Sulfuric Acid and Fuming Sulfuric Acid
Sulfuric acid is a corrosive toxic chemical that causes direct effects ranging from irritation to burns on the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. Massachusetts businesses consumed almost 45 million pounds of sulfuric acid, the world's most widely used chemical, in the production of chemicals, electricity, food products, paper products, electronics, textiles, leather goods, and electroplated parts. Fuming sulfuric acid is used to transport high concentrations of acid.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies occupational exposure to strong, inorganic mists containing sulfuric acid as a known human carcinogen (Group 1). Limited evidence suggests that sulfuric acid causes lung cancer in refinery workers.
Reflecting its versatility and wide use, 166 Massachusetts businesses used 45 million pounds of sulfuric acid in 1996 in at least 15 different applications. Environmental releases and transfers of sulfuric acid in Massachusetts dropped by 12% between 1990 and 1996.