Spill Management

Ammonia spills can become increasingly dangerous if they are not contained promptly. Table 14.3 summarizes the actions to be taken if a spill has occurred.

Table 14.2. Ammonia emergency triage guide.

Severity Findings and disposition Findings

Table 14.2. Ammonia emergency triage guide.

Severity Findings and disposition Findings

Mild

Symptoms

Mild catarrhal symptoms Stinging in eyes and mouth Pain on swallowing Tightness of the throat

Vital signs

Stable and normal

Signs

Good color Swelling of eyelids Reddening of lips, mouth tongue Odor of ammonia Minimal throat edema Normal chest sounds

Disposition

Can usually be sent home with minimal treatment

Moderate

Symptoms

Burning of eyes, mouth throat Tightness of chest Hoarseness Difficulty swallowing

Vital signs

Abnormal or normal

Signs

Cough, productive of tenacious, blood-stained sputum Conjunctiva and eyelids swollen Tearing mucous membrane with edema and patches of denuded tissue Rales and rhonchi on chest examination

Disposition

Admission, treatment and further tests

Severe

Symptoms

Decreased level of consciousness and extreme pain

Vital signs

Unstable and abnormal

Pulmonary edema Severe respiratory distress Corneal and skin burns

Disposition

Admission, intensive care; cardiopulmonary support

Source: Data from Brautbar et al. (7) and Lessenger (8).

Source: Data from Brautbar et al. (7) and Lessenger (8).

Table 14.3. Response to a anhydrous ammonia spill.

Notify trained response personnel immediately. Untrained persons or those without proper personal protective equipment must not enter areas with high concentrations of ammonia or visible vapor clouds.

Evacuate people for at least 50 feet in all directions and have them stay upwind from the ammonia release. If evacuation is impossible, people should be sheltered in a building with the doors and windows shut and air conditioners turned off.

Stop or control the source of exposure. If the exposure is from a leaking cylinder, take the cylinder outdoors or to an open area until it has completely drained and the contents have evaporated.

Ventilate potentially explosive atmospheres by opening windows and doors.

Keep combustibles such as wood, paper, and oil away from the leak.

Remove all sources of heat and ignition.

Refer to the manufacturer's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for more information.

Source: Data from McCunney (9).

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