Huntington Beach, California, August 14, 2023
Phosphine is described by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as a colorless, flammable and explosive gas at room temperature that smells like garlic or decaying fish. Small amounts occur naturally in the environment and it is also made for use in a number of industries.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) warns that exposure to phosphine can be fatal. Inhalation is the most likely occupational exposure route for phosphine. Early symptoms of acute phosphine intoxication include pain in the diaphragm, nausea, vomiting, excitement and a phosphorus smell on the breath. Higher levels can cause weakness, bronchitis, pulmonary edema, shortness of breath, convulsions and death.
Some effects, such as pulmonary edema, convulsions and liver injury, may appear or continue to be present days after exposure. Long-term exposure to very low levels of phosphine can result in anemia, bronchitis, gastrointestinal effects, and visual, speech and motor problems.
Phosphine is used in the semiconductor and plastics industries, in the production of a flame retardant, and as a pesticide in stored grain according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). NIOSH also reports it is used as a pesticide in stored tobacco. Examples of workers at risk of being exposed to phosphine according to NIOSH include:
- Factory workers that make electronics
- Workers in plants that make rat poison
- Pest control workers who use it for the control of rats
“To protect workers from exposure to phosphine, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) and NIOSH has a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL),” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager at LA Testing’s Huntington Beach facility. “To help companies comply with these health and safety regulations, LA Testing offers gas meters that detect phosphine and other chemicals. Our industrial hygiene and environmental laboratories also provide testing services and sampling supplies to detect a wide range of industrial chemicals.”
LA Testing recently sponsored an educational video about phosphine and potential occupational exposure risks that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/y5PVw03Oj7Q
To learn more about this or other industrial hygiene, environmental, health and safety testing resources, please visit www.LATesting.com, email info@LATesting.com or call (800) 755-1794.
About LA Testing
LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for environmental, indoor air quality and material testing for mercury, asbestos, mold, bacteria, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC Elite, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro and San Diego.