High Concentration Hydrogen Peroxide (H 2 0 2 ) Exposure Limits

Regulations/ Guidelines for Hydrogen Peroxide

The hazards associated with exposure to hydrogen peroxide vapor are well known. The occupational exposure limits for this compound is consistent among the more widely used governmental and professional organizations:

Wheras Peracetic acid occupational exposure limits are still being developed, and the OELs for EtO changed in the 1980s, the hazards of hydrogen peroxide are well known and the current PELs are based on research from the 1950s.

OSHA General Duty Clause 
The OSHA general duty clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, requires that each employer furnish to each of its employees a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

8 Hour Time Weighted Averages (TWA)
    OSHA Permissible Exposure Level: 1.0 ppm   
    ACGIH Threshold Limit Value: 1.0 ppm
    NIOSH Recommended Exposure Level: 1.0 ppm

    DFG MAK (Germany): 0.5 ppm
    United Kingdom: 1.0 ppm

Short Term Exposure Limits (15 minute TWA)
    Washington & Hawaii States: 3 ppm
    United Kingdom: 2 ppm
        NW territories: 2 ppm
        Saskatchewan: 2 ppm
        Yukon: 2 ppm
    Finland: 3 ppm
    Switzerland: 2 ppm

ACGIH Excursion Limit

Excursion LImit Recommendation: "Excursions in worker exposure levels may exceed 3 times the TLV-TWA for no more than a total of 30 minutes during a work day, and under no circumstances should they exceed 5 times the TLV-TWA, provided that the TLV-TWA is not exceeded".

Therefore, applying this recommendation to hydrogen peroxide (TWA-TLV = 1ppm), workers may be exposed to no more than 3 ppm for no more than 30 minutes a day and a ceiling level of 5 ppm.

Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health
NIOSH: 75 ppm

Emergency Response Planning Guidelines (ERPG)
ERPG(1) 10 ppm (mild, transient effects) for up to 1 hr exposure

ERPG(2) 50 ppm (without serious effects) for up to 1 hr exposure

ERPG(3) 100 ppm (not life threatening) up to 1 hr exposure

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Hazard Communication Standard

OSHA HazCom standard applies to almost all workplaces where hydrogen peroxide is used. The philosophy behind the HazCom standard is that if workers are informed about the hazards of the chemicals they are working with, then the workplace will be safer.

Legal Background

1970 Occupational Health & Safety Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and empowered OSHA to create and enforce workplace safety standards.

29 CFR 1910.1200 Hazard Communication Standard

  • Requires chemical manufacturers or importers to classify the hazards of chemicals which they produce or import

  • Employers must provide information to their employees about the hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed, by means of a hazard communication program, labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, and information and training. [b(1)]

Standard Includes the following requirements:

Assess hazards

Labels and markings

  • Include Product identifier, hazard statements, pictogram, precautionary statements, name & address of manufacturer or responsible party. [f(1)]

  • The chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals leaving the workplace is labeled, tagged, or marked.[f(1)]

  • Labels not required for portable containers for immediate use [f(8)]

  • Labels shall be in English and optionally also in other languages if spoken by workers

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

  • Maintain for all chemicals in the workplace and accessible to workers [g(8)]

  • Sections include: Identification, Hazard Identification, Composition, First Aid Measures, Fire fighting Measures, Accidental Release Measures, Handling & Storage, Exposure Controls & Personal Protection, Physical & Chemical Properties, Stability and Reactivity, Toxicology, Ecological Information, Disposal, Transportation, Regulations, Other Information including date of last revision. [g(2)]

  • Suppliers will provide with first shipment and shipments after SDS revision [g(6)]


  • Employers shall provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new chemical hazard the employees have not previously been trained about is introduced into their work area. [h(1)]

  • Training shall include: [h(3)]

    • If multiple employers, then must ensure that all employees potentially exposed to chemicals are trained [(2)

    • Requirements of this standard

    • Operations using hazardous chemicals,

    • Location of written plan, SDSs and chemical list

    • Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area (such as monitoring conducted by the employer, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released, etc.);

    • The physical, health, simple asphyxiation, combustible dust, and pyrophoric gas hazards, as well as hazards not otherwise classified, of the chemicals in the work area

    • The measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment to be used; and,

    • Details of the hazard communication program developed by the employer, including an explanation of the labels received on shipped containers and the workplace labeling system used by their employer; the safety data sheet, including the order of information and how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information.

Written plan [e(1)

  • List of chemicals on sit

  • The methods the employer will use to inform employees of the hazards of non-routine task

  • Chemical Inventor

  • Trade secrets – information can be kept as trade secrets so long as safety information is not withheld and composition is made available in case of emergency. [i]


Standard pictograms indicating chemical hazards have been developed under the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS);2 some of which are shown below. OSHA has adopted the GHS and updated the Hazard Communication Standard in 2012. 

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