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Handling Anhydrous Ammonia Safely


  • Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is an important source of nitrogen fertilizer for crops.
  • If improperly handled, NH3 can be very dangerous, with catastrophic consequences to both plants and workers; it can kill, maim, or blind in mere seconds.
  • Common injuries from NH3 exposure are severe burns to eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.


  • Always wear protective clothing (e.g., lightweight rubber suit or at least long-sleeved shirt and overalls) and personal protective equipment (e.g., non-vented goggles, thermal-lined rubber gloves, face shield or approved respirator).
  • Keep NH3 tanks out of direct sunlight so the pressure-relief valve doesn't have to vent.
  • Make sure the NH3 tanks aren't filled beyond their recommended capacity.
  • Take special care in handling the hose-end valve so it doesn't open accidentally.
  • Do not move the hose by the valve handle.
  • Be sure to bleed the hose coupling before disconnecting it.
  • Be especially careful when cleaning plugged knives, since NH3 could build up behind the plug.
  • If exposed to NH3, immediately wash with water for 15 minutes then seek emergency medical attention.
  • Before taking an NH3 tank to the field, inspect to ensure the following:
    1. hoses in good condition,
    2. fittings clean and rust-free,
    3. low-pressure tubes are not leaking,
    4. no knives plugged,
    5. tank secured by a locking hitch pin.
    6. pressure-relief valve operates correctly,
    7. tank has 5 gallons of fresh water, and all couplers are functioning correctly.
  • If there's accident with anhydrous, remember that the antidote is water, water, and more water.


Last updated: 18-May-2006 11:08 AM