Tips for anhydrous ammonia safety
Basic First Aid for Anhydrous Ammonia Exposure
The first-response treatment for anhydrous ammonia exposure is to flush the exposed area (skin, nose, throat, eyes, and so on) with clean water for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Flush the exposed area immediately to decrease injury caused by the anhydrous ammonia coming in contact with skin or clothes. Although clean water is the ideal resource for flushing exposed areas of the body, if you do not have water available, other nontoxic liquids, such as cold coffee or orange juice, can be used.
- Remove contaminated clothing unless the clothing is frozen to the victim's skin.
- Seek medical attention immediately and inform medical staff of the exposure to anhydrous ammonia so that they will not treat the wounds with oils or ointments that can intensify the damage.
If you find a person who is in a continuous stream of anhydrous ammonia, contact your local emergency service responders or 911. Inform the emergency medical responders about the type of incident so they can bring the proper equipment to the scene. A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and protective clothing are necessary to remove a person from a continuous stream. Rescue workers will contact a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) disposal team if HAZMAT services are needed at the scene.
Note that these guidelines are not comprehensive, and all individuals working with anhydrous ammonia should receive training in the proper response to exposure emergencies.
Storage and Transportation
Anhydrous ammonia is a strong alkali that, when dissolved in water, readily reacts with copper, zinc, brass, and other alloys. Therefore, the only types of containers, fittings, and piping that should come in contact with anhydrous ammonia should be nongalvanized steel or iron. Do not store other materials, such as propane or liquefied petroleum gas, in a tank that has been used to store anhydrous ammonia.
When filling your anhydrous ammonia tank, do not fill it more than 85% full, and always disconnect the fill hose before moving the tank. Remember to bleed pressurized anhydrous ammonia from the hose before connecting or disconnecting the hose.
When transporting anhydrous ammonia, be sure to adhere to the following precautions and safety rules:
- Running Gear: Regularly inspect the wagon’s frame tongue, reach poles, anchor devices, wheel bearings, knuckles, ball joints, and pins for structural damage and wear and make necessary repairs and adjustments.
- Tires: Check tires for proper inflation, bald spots, and signs of wear and ensure that lug nuts are tight.
- Hoses and Valves: Inspect and replace hoses and valves as needed.
- The hydrostatic relief valve should be replaced every five years.
- The transfer hose should be replaced five years from the date of manufacture.
- Lubrication: Annually lubricate the wagon’s knuckle, wheels, tongues, and so on.
- Towing Vehicle: To increase the driver’s ability to control the towing vehicle, ensure that the towing vehicle weighs at least as much as the tank.
- A tractor can tow two tanks, but a truck can tow only one tank at a time.
- Speed Limit: When towing an anhydrous ammonia tank, observe a speed limit of 25 mph.
- Hitch Pin: Use a hitch pin with a safety chain when towing a tank wagon.
- Warning Lights: Ensure that the tank is equipped with a seven-terminal breakaway connector plug to properly operate turn signals, flashing warning lights, and a red brake light.
- Safety Signage: If operating on a highway, outfit the tank with all required safety markings, including a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) sign. (Click here for more information about SMV signs and increasing the visibility of your agricultural equipment.)
- The words Anhydrous Ammonia must appear on both sides of the tank and on the rear of the tank in letters 4 in. high. The words should be in contrast to the tank so that they can be read easily.
- Inhalation Hazard must appear on both sides of the tank in letters 3 in. high.
- A Department of Transportation (DOT) placard number 1005 for nonflammable gas should be placed on the front, back, and sides of the tank. click image to zoom
Additional Safety Recommendations
- Paint the tank with reflective white paint to decrease excessive pressure buildup that can occur when the tank is heated from direct sunlight.
- Do not use dented or damaged tanks until they have been checked by an authorized inspector and necessary repairs are completed.
- Allow only certified welders to perform welding on the tank.
- Regulations and codes regarding towing of anhydrous ammonia and signage may vary, so be familiar with and obey the regulations in your state