- Free-flowing ammonia vapor tends to stay together in a shape of its own because, in dense amounts, it creates a cooler than ambient environment. Ammonia travels downwind in a v-pattern and eventually dissipates upward into the atmosphere.
- Water absorbs ammonia to form ammonium hydroxide and has a high pH (alkaline). Contain pooled amounts in a safe location so that the ammonia solution can evaporate or otherwise be mitigated.
- Stay out of a cloud of ammonia contained inside a room: It may be flammable and will be very cold.
- Ammonia reacts violently with: Chlorine, acids, Brass, copper, silver, and zinc corrode rapidly when mixed with ammonia in the presence of moisture.
- Allow ammonia vapors to escape to atmosphere unless the release is causing a serious threat to life safety. Dry-windy weather dissipates ammonia the fastest. Humid and foggy weather results in poor dissipation. Inversion pressures (smoggy day) slow dissipation. Rain dissipates ammonia releases (contain the runoff until the pH is in the 7 to 9 range). Ammonia will follow the wind direction and track along low valleys until it dissipates.
- Large volumes of water dilute ammonia, but form highly corrosive ammonia hydroxide solution. Avoid using water unless absolutely necessary to protect life (evacuation or rescue). NEVER put water on ammonia liquid or an aerosol stream or aerosol dense gas cloud. Use a dilution rate of 10 to 1 water to ammonia (2 to 1 for maximum dilution of ammonia to water). Spray water at rates of at least 100 gallons per minute with two hose streams located at each flank (narrow fog stream) over the top of invisible vapor located just after the visible cloud. Consider using portable exhaust fans to divert or diffuse vapor instead of water. Tank of ammonia, unless exposed to extreme heat (warmer than water from hose stream).
- Best overall method of handling a release is to control ventilation and reduce pressure by releasing to atmosphere (from containment within a building or under a containment tarp). Allow ammonia to dissipate to atmosphere if people downwind are adequately protected or evacuated.
- Ammonia is easy to contain by: Tarping the component that is releasing ammonia is effective, especially for outside releases. Closing doors or blocking openings to a building with a tarp.
- If caught in an ammonia release, escape laterally and move upwind. When the release direction is difficult to assess, move inside to shelter in place or towards someone that has proper PPE so that they can help you to safety.
- If an ammonia cloud is spreading towards your home or business and you cannot escape upwind safely, stay indoors (shelter in place); seal the doorways and windows, shut off heating and ventilation systems, and wait until the cloud passes.
*This list should be viewed as informational and points to remember. This list is not intended to provide the solution to every ammonia release or incident. Wind speed, humidity, rain, and other weather related factors play a role and each case should be evaluated individually.
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Established in 1987, the Ammonia Safety & Training Institute (ASTI) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making ammonia (NH3) the safest managed hazardous material in the world. Bringing together leaders from industry and public safety organizations with hundreds of years of combined experience, ASTI provides safety management support through effective use of Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery (PMPRR) training. All courses meet OSHA standards.