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Formic Acid

(CAS#: 64-18-6)

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Formic acid (CAS #64-18-6) is a colorless liquid that is used in the manufacturing of fumigants, animal feed additives, and commercial paint strippers. The largest single use of formic acid is as a silage additive in Europe, but this market hardly exists in the United States. Formic acid is used in textile dyeing and finishing, leather tanning, nickel plating baths, electroplating, coagulating rubber latex, regenerating old rubber, and dehairing and plumping hides. It is used to make metal salts, including nickel, cadmium, and potassium formates. It is used as a solvent for perfumes, and in the manufacturing of lacquers, glass, vinyl resin plasticizers, and formate esters for flavor and fragrance. It is used in the synthesis of aspartame.

Chemical properties

Formic acid has a pungent, penetrating odor. It is miscible with alcohol ether, glycerol, ethyl acetate, methanol, and water. It is very soluble in acetone. It is incompatible or reactive with strong oxidizers, strong caustics, and concentrated sulfuric acid. It is corrosive to metals. It is a strong reducing agent, and may act both as an acid and as an aldehyde because the carboxyl is bound to a hydrogen rather than an alkyl group. Synonyms for formic acid are hydrogencarboxylic acid, and methanoic acid.


Health effects

Exposure to formic acid targets the respiratory system, skin, kidneys, liver, and eyes. Ingesting formic acid can cause severe poisoning and death, with symptoms of salivation, bloody vomiting, burning sensation in the mouth, diarrhea, pain, and shock. Exposure can cause asphyxial death because of glottic edema, circulatory collapse, or renal failure. Exposure can cause severe primary damage to skin, mucosal surface, and eye, including permanent scarring of the cornea. Chronic absorption has been reported to cause albuminuria and hematuria. Exposure can cause lacrimation, increased nasal discharge, cough, throat discomfort, erythema, skin burns, dermatitis, and blistering. Prolonged exposure can cause depressive effects to the central nervous system, such as visual and mental disturbances. Formic acid is produced by bees, wasps, and ants, which can cause acute irritation.

>Exposure Values

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The only U.S. manufacturer of formic acid is Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Pampa, TX.

Chinese supplier as following:

Feicheng Acid Chemicals Co.,Ltd

Shandong Baoyuan Chemical Co.,Ltd

Formic acid Application:

  1. Pharmaceutical industry:Caffeine,Enzinnes,Aminopyrine,VitaminB1,etc.
  2. Pesticide industry: Triazolone, Disinfest,etc.
  3. Chemical industry: Methane amide, DMF, Ageresister,etc.
  4. Leather industry: Tanning, etc.
  5. Textile industry: Natural Rubber
  6. Rubber industry: Coagulation, etc.
  7. Steal industry: Aid cleaing of steel production, etc.
  8. Paper industry: Pulp manufacturing, etc.
  9. Food industry: Disinfectant, etc.
  10. Poultry industry: Silage,etc.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets permissible exposure limits, time-weighted average, for formic acid of 5 ppm (9 mg/m 3 ). Formic acid is regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the Clean Water Act; and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. It is designated as a hazardous substance under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

Under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, releases of more than one pound of formic acid into the air, water, or land must be reported annually and entered into the national Toxic Release Inventory (TRI).

National Overview of 1998 Toxics Release Inventory

In 1998, 316 facilities released 12,107,535 pounds of formic acid. Of those releases, 958,610 pounds were air emissions; 95,937 pounds were surface water discharges; 10,858,924 pounds were released by underground injection; 69,546 pounds were released to land; and 124,518 pounds were transferred off-site for disposal. Total emissions for 1998 represented a decrease from 1997 emissions, which totaled 12,899,550 pounds; from 1996 emissions, which totaled 13,306,363 pounds; and a decrease from 1995 emissions, which totaled 12,130,126 pounds.

In 1998, 209,503,662 pounds of formic acid waste were managed; 808,843 pounds were recycled on-site; 14 pounds were recycled off-site; 5,818,086 pounds were used for energy recovery on-site; 3,748,327 pounds were used for energy recovery off-site; 180,700,666 pounds were treated on-site; 6,155,782 pounds were treated off-site; and 12,271,944 pounds were released on-and off-site.

The 10 states in which the largest amounts of formic acid were released in 1998 were: TX (4,783,759 pounds); FL (3,806,205 pounds); LA (2,384,612 pounds); CA (440,695 pounds); NC (86,622 pounds); TN (66,180 pounds); UT (65,632 pounds); VA (63,083 pounds); IL (59,650 pounds); and AL (42,616 pounds).

The 10 facilities releasing the largest amounts of formic acid in 1998 were: Solutia Inc., Gonzalez, FL (3,806,200 pounds); Du Pont Victoria Plant, Victoria, TX (2,565,000 pounds); Monsanto - Luling, Luling, LA (2,109,605 pounds); Novus Intl. Inc., Alvin, TX (2,100,000 pounds); Filtrol Corp., Los Angeles, CA (440,000 pounds); Cytec Inds. Inc. Fortier Plant, Westwego, LA (270,000 pounds); Arteva Specialties S.A.R.L., Wilmington, NC (82,800 pounds); Ticona Polymers Inc., Bishop, TX (81,122 pounds); Tennessee Eastman Div., Kingsport, TN (65,920 pounds); and Safety Kleen (Lone & Grassy ) Inc. GMF, Grantsville, UT (65,627 pounds).