Uses of Sulfamic Acid as an Industrial Cleaning Agent and Its Health Hazards
Sulfamic acid is an intermediate compound between sulfuric acid and sulfamide and is mostly used as a cleaning agent in various industries. Sulfamic acid is a stable white crystalline non-volatile chemical that can cause serious health issues to humans when consumed directly.
Sulfamic acid, also called as sulfamidic acid, amidosulfuric acid, and aminosulfonic acid, is a stable, white crystalline, non-volatile, and odorless chemical that is an intermediate compound between sulfuric acid and sulfamide or urea. This acid is highly soluble in water, non-toxic, and doesn’t produce obnoxious fumes since it’s chemically stable. Moreover, sulfamic acid consists of corrosion inhibitors that makes it an ideal chemical for cleaning and protecting metals and equipment. Additionally, market analysts at Research Dive predict that the global sulfamic acid market is expected to register a revenue of $1,372.80 million and grow at a 15.0% CAGR during the 2022-2031 forecast period.
Industrial Applications of Sulfamic Acid
Sulfamic acid is mainly used as a predecessor to sweet-tasting compounds like acesulfame potassium. Moreover, it’s also used extensively as an acidic cleaning agent for metals and ceramics. The acid is ideal for removing rust, limescale, and is a safe alternative to the cheaper hydrochloric acid. It is because it has intrinsic safety properties that don’t produce toxic chlorine gas when mixed with bleach and other hypochlorite-based products, unlike most acids.
Here are some industries that majorly use sulfamic acid:
- Dyes and Pigments Industry
The manufacturing process of dye products and pigments includes strong diazotization reactions that uses nitrides. Sulfamic acid is used to remove these excess nitrides from dyed stuff as well as process water of effluents.
- Paper and Pulp Industry
To avoid pulp degradation due to temperature during the chlorination and hydrochloride stage, sulfamic acid is used that also allows the bleaching of paper at lower pH and higher temperature levels. This not only enables paper to bleach properly and evenly, but also prevents loss of strength.
- Plastic Industry
Sulfamic acid acts as a curing agent in the manufacturing of plastic and since it’s an inorganic acid, it works faster than other acids.
- Medical Industry
Sulfamic acid is widely used in designing multiple therapeutic agents like antibiotics, HIV reverse transcriptase inhibitors, anti-cancer drugs, weight-loss drugs, and anti-epileptic drugs.
Sulfamic acid is also used as a descaling agent for cleaning industrial equipment like condensers, boilers, pipelines, etc. Moreover, it also helps in stabilizing the chlorine level in swimming pools and cooling towers. Besides, it’s also used in the sulphation and sulphamation processes of organic compounds to making detergents.
Is Sulfamic Acid Hazardous for Consumption?
Despite having a wide range of industrial applications, sulfamic acid is hazardous and can cause serious health issues when consumed accidentally or comes in contact.
Here’s a list of some possible health risks:
- Sulfamic acid can cause chemical burns when it comes in contact with skin since it’s extremely corrosive in nature.
- It can also burn cornea and result in blindness when contacted with eyes.
- When sulfamic acid is burned, it produces toxic vapors that can burn our lungs and nose if inhaled deeply.
- Inhalation exposure of this acid to high levels can also cause sore throat, tightness in chest, coughing, and perforation of the nasal septum.
- It can also cause pulmonary edema, i.e., buildup of fluid in lungs, that could possibly result in death.
Disposing Off Sulfamic Acid Safely
Sulfamic acid is a powerful chemical that is highly suitable for metal cleaning and descaling applications because it can soften hard deposits without producing much odors. However, one must be cautious while dealing with sulfamic acid to avoid any kind of mishaps.
Since sulfamic acid is extensively used in several industries, it gets difficult and worrisome for the workers to dispose off excess acid. And so, one should always remember to first neutralize the acid by mixing dilute sodium hydroxide solution. In case you don’t have hydroxide solution, you can also add 1L of water and then flush the diluted sulfamic acid.
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