Agent Name

Phosphine

CAS Number

7803-51-2

Formula

H3-P

Major Category

Toxic Gases & Vapors

Synonyms

Hydrogen phosphide; Phosphorated hydrogen; Phosphorus hydride; Phosphorus trihydride; [NIOSH]

Category

Hydrides

Description

Colorless gas with a fish- or garlic-like odor. [pesticide] [Note: Shipped as a liquefied compressed gas. Pure compound is odorless.] [NIOSH] Vapor density = 1.17 (heavier than air); [Burke, p. 102]

Sources/Uses

Phosphine is used as a fumigant and as a dopant in microelectronics manufacturing. [ACGIH] Phosphine is produced by reacting water or acid with metallic phosphides. It may be formed during the production of acetylene gas. "Phosphine is used in the semiconductor industry to introduce phosphorus into silicon crystals as an intentional impurity. It also is used as a fumigant and a polymerization initiator." [ATSDR Medical Management] "If phosphoric acid is used as a catalyst, phosphine can be formed in the strongly reducing atmosphere of the hot emissions. In air, phosphine rapidly oxidizes to phosphorus oxide." [IARC 2012: Iron and steel founding]

Comments

Phosphine is toxic to the brain, kidneys, heart, and liver with an end point of cardiovascular collapse. [ATSDR Medical Management] Some investigators have reported pulmonary edema and changes in the kidneys and brain of experimental animals poisoned with phosphine. [ACGIH] Phosphine may be released when the following chemicals are spilled in water: calcium phosphide, aluminum phosphide, sodium phosphide, magnesium aluminum phosphide, magnesium phosphide, potassium phosphide, and strontium phosphide. [ERG 2012] Possible frostbite from contact with liquid; [NIOSH] Phosphides (aluminum, magnesium, and zinc) are used as fumigants and rodenticides. They are major causes of accidental and suicidal poisoning in India and other developing countries. The lowest lethal oral doses reported in adults are 500 mg for aluminum phosphide and 4 g for zinc phosphide. Phosphide causes vomiting, diarrhea, and shock after ingestion. Later symptoms are ARDS, acute renal failure, hepatitis, convulsions, and coma. Methemoglobinemia has been reported. [Olson, p. 331-2]

Reference Link

ATSDR Medical Management - Phosphine

Exposure Assessment
Skin Designation (ACGIH)

Insufficient data

TIH

Yes

TLV (ACGIH)

0.3 ppm

STEL (ACGIH)

1 ppm

PEL (OSHA)

0.3 ppm

MAK

0.1 ppm

IDLH (NIOSH)

50 ppm

Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs

Symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, tightness of the chest, cough, headache, and dizziness have been reported in workers exposed intermittently to concentrations up to 35 ppm [Jones et al. 1964]. It has been stated that 290 to 430 ppm is dangerous to life after 1 hour, and 100 to 200 ppm is the maximum amount for 0.5 to 1 hour [Henderson and Haggard 1943].

Odor Threshold Low

0.01 ppm

Odor Threshold High

5 ppm

Lethal Concentration

LC50 (rat) = 11 ppm/4H

Explanatory Notes

Recognition odor threshold from AIHA (mean = 0.14 ppm); Can ignite spontaneously in cold air; [CHEMINFO] See "2017 Notice of Intended Changes." [TLVs and BEIs]

Reference Link

ICSC: Phosphine

Flammability (NFPA)

4: Burns readily

Adverse Effects
Toxic Pneumonitis

Yes

Neurotoxin

Other CNS Neurotoxin

Hepatotoxin

Hepatotoxin, Secondary

Nephrotoxin

Yes

Methemoglobinemia

Methemoglobinemia, Secondary

Links to Other NLM Databases
Health Studies

Human Health Effects from Hazardous Substances Data Bank:

Toxicity Information

Search TOXNET

Chemical Information

Search ChemIDplus

Biomedical References

Search PubMed

Related Information in HazMap
Diseases

Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent:

Processes

Industrial Processes with risk of exposure: