Are You Aware of the Dangers of Hydrogen Cyanide?

by | Aug 18, 2020 | Latest News

Whilst Hydrogen Cyanide is reported to smell like almonds, it can be fatal not only when swallowed, but, even when it merely comes into contact with the skin. We explore the dangers of Hydrogen Cyanide and what you need to do to get protected.

  1. Properties – Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) is a highly volatile and fast-acting lethal blood agent. It’s normally colourless but smells/tastes sweet like bitter almonds.
  2. Dangers – It’s extremely toxic, even at low doses (4.5ppm – 0.00045% volume). HCN poses an explosive risk at 5.6% vol. (but you’d be dead before the explosion).
  3. Exposure Limits – HCN has a STEL (15 min average) of 4.5ppm and a TWA (8 hours) of 0.9ppm.
  4. Where is it found? – HCN is produced as a by-product rather than used as a primary chemical. It is commonly found and used in the chemical industry. It is less dense than air, so will collect at top of poorly ventilated spaces.
  5. Symptoms – HCN inhibits the body’s ability to use oxygen and therefore symptoms can occur within 15 minutes. At low concentrations, you could begin to feel dizziness, nausea, begin vomiting, suffer from headaches, and even be faced with an increase in heart rate. A severe exposure is highly dangerous, resulting in permanent damage to the body’s organs or death. Death can occur in as little as 10 minutes. Victims that suffer exposure to HCN essentially suffocate to death.
  6. What to do in the event of exposure? Move away from the hazardous area to a new location with lots of fresh air. If the skin has come into contact with HCN, wash with lots of soap and water. If eyes are burning (remove contacts) and rinse with clean water for at least 10 minutes.
  7. What actions should be taken to stay safe? For continuous detection around the clock, a fixed gas detection system should be installed. For personal monitoring, the Gas-Pro from Crowcon provides a multi-gas configuration including a sensor for Hydrogen Cyanide.

Gas-Pro hydrogen cyanideGas-Pro

The Gas-Pro is a multi-gas detector that features a new gas sensor for hydrogen cyanide (0–30 ppm with a resolution of 0.1 ppm). Using the Gas-Pro for HCN, you will benefit from the TWA Resume function. This retains TWA logs even when the Gas-Pro is switched off (e.g. during breaks or meals). The benefit of the Resume Function ensures that workers are never over-exposed to harmful gas. Housed in a rugged IP65 & IP67 casing, it’s capable of withstanding harsh industrial environments and everyday use.

Crowcon Connect – The Gas-Pro utilises Crowcon Connect which is a secure, cost-effective and easy to deploy fleet management system that gives the visibility and insights you need from your gas detectors to ensure compliance, improve efficiency and raise safety levels.


For further details, contact a1-cbiss