Phosgene is a highly toxic, irritating and corrosive gas. Inhalation can cause fatal respiratory damage. Phosgene reacts violently and decomposes to toxic compounds on contact with moisture, including chlorine, carbon monoxide and carbon tetrachloride.
Skin Contact: If liquid phosgene (below 8.2ºC) contacts the skin or clothing, an inhalation exposure should be suspected. Hazards due to skin contact with the gas are unknown. Phosgene does, however, react slowly with moisture to form hydrochloric acid, which can be irritating. Flush with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention as necessary. Take first aid for inhalation exposures as well.
Eye Contact: Phosgene reacts slowly with the moisture in the eye to form hydrochloric acid, which can cause severe irritation and burns. Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with water for at least 15 minutes. Seek medical attention immediately.
Inhalation: Phosgene can cause severe irritation to the respiratory tract, resulting in burning throat, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, shortness of breath and headache. Severe respiratory distress may not develop for 4 to 72 hours after exposure, at which point pulmonary edema (fluid in lungs) progressing to pneumonia and cardiac faultier may occur.
Move to fresh air and seek medical attention immediately.
Ingestion: Not a likely route of exposure since phosgene is a gas at room temperature.
Wear chemical splash goggles and impermeable gloves. Containers of phosgene solutions should be stored in secondary containers.
Never work alone with phosgene. Another person must be in view at all times and must be equipped and trained to rescue. If phosgene is released, immediately leave the area until the severity of the release is determined. Keep away from water. Cylinder temperature should never exceed 51ºC (125ºF). Before opening or entry into equipment that has contained phosgene, purge with a dry inert gas such as nitrogen.
Store and use in a ventilated gas cabinet or fume hood with no water. Use corrosion-resistant structural materials and lighting and ventilation systems. Keep cylinder and regulator free from hydrocarbons such as oil or grease. Avoid storage of cylinders for more than six months. Follow all applicable recommendations for storage and handling of compressed gases.
Phosgene cylinders should be returned to the compressed gas distributor when emptied or no longer used.