ACGIH
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, which develops and publishes recommended occupational exposure limits for hundreds of chemical substances and physical agents.

Acid
Any chemical with a low pH that in water solution can burn the skin or eyes. Acids turn litmus paper red and have pH values of 0 to 6.

Action level
Term used by OSHA and NIOSH to express the level of toxicant which requires medical surveillance, usually one half of the PEL.

Activated charcoal
Charcoal is an amorphous form of carbon formed by burning wood, nutshells, animal bones, and other carbonaceous materials. Charcoal becomes activated by heating it with steam to 800-900oC. During this treatment, a porous, submicroscopic internal structure is formed which gives it an extensive internal surface area. Activated charcoal is commonly used as a gas or vapor adsorbent in air-purifying respirators and as a solid sorbent in air-sampling.

Acute Effect
Adverse effect on a human or animal which has severe symptoms developing rapidly and coming quickly to a crisis. Also see ’chronic effect.’

Adsorption
The condensation of gases, liquids, or dissolved substances on the surfaces of solids.

AIHA
American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Air
The mixture of gases that surrounds the earth; its major components are as follows: 78.08% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.03% carbon dioxide, and 0.93% argon. Water vapor (humidity) varies.

Air-line respirator
A respirator that is connected to a compressed breathing air source by a hose of small inside diameter. The air is delivered continuously or intermittently in a sufficient volume to meet the wearer’s breathing requirements.

Air-purifying respirator
A respirator that uses chemicals to remove specific gases and vapors form the air or that uses a mechanical filter to remove particulate matter. An air-purifying respirator must only be used when there is sufficient oxygen to sustain life and the air contaminant level is below the concentration limits of the device.

Alkali
Any chemical with a high pH that in water solution is irritating or caustic to the skin. Strong alkalies in solution are corrosive to the skin and mucous membranes. Example: sodium hydroxide, referred to as caustic soda or lye. Alkalis turn litmus paper blue and have pH values from 8 to 14. Another term for alkali is base.

Allergy
An abnormal response of a hypersensitive person to chemical and physical stimuli. Allergic manifestations of major importance occur in about 10 percent of the population.

ANSI
The American National Standards Institute is a voluntary membership organization (run with private funding) that develops consensus standards nationally for a wide variety of devices and procedures.

Asphyxiant
A vapor or gas which can cause unconsciousness or death by suffocation (lack of oxygen). Asphyxiation is one of the principal potential hazards of working in confined spaces.

ASTM
American Society for Testing and Materials.

Atmosphere-supplying respirator
A respirator that provides breathing air from a source independent of the surrounding atmosphere. There are two types: air-line and self-contained breathing apparatus.

Atmospheric pressure
The pressure exerted in all directions by the atmosphere. At sea level, mean atmospheric pressure is 29.92 inches Hg, 14.7 psi, or 407 inches w.g.