Review of Submarine Escape Action Levels for Selected Chemicals
View larger
  • Status: Final Book
  • Downloads: 456
Purchase Options
Purchase Options MyNAP members save 10% online. Login or Register



On-board fires can occur on submarines after events such as collision or explosion. These fires expose crew members to toxic concentrations of combustion products such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen sulfide. Exposure to these substances at high concentrations may cause toxic effects to the respiratory and central nervous system; leading possible to death. T protect crew members on disabled submarines, scientists at the U.S. Navy Health Research Center's Toxicology Detachment have proposed two exposure levels, called submarine escape action level (SEAL) 1 and SEAL 2, for each substance. SEAL 1 is the maximum concentration of a gas in a disabled submarine below which healthy submariners can be exposed for up to 10 days without encountering irreversible health effects while SEAL 2 the maximum concentration of a gas in below which healthy submariners can be exposed for up to 24 hours without experiencing irreversible health effects. SEAL 1 and SEAL 2 will not impair the functions of the respiratory system and central nervous system to the extent of impairing the ability of crew members in a disabled submarine to escape, be rescued, or perform specific tasks.

Hoping to better protect the safety of submariners, the chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery requested that the National Research Council (NRC) review the available toxicologic and epidemiologic data on eight gases that are likely to be produced in a disabled submarine and to evaluate independently the scientific validity of the Navy's proposed SEALs for those gases. The NRC assigned the task to the Committee on Toxicology's (COT's) Subcommittee on Submarine Escape Action Levels. The specific task of the subcommittee was to review the toxicologic, epidemiologic, and related data on ammonia, carbon monoxide, chlorine, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide in order to validate the Navy's proposed SEALs. The subcommittee also considered the implications of exposures at hyperbaric conditions and potential interactions between the eight gases.

Review of Submarine Escape Action Levels for Selected Chemicals presents the subcommittee's findings after evaluation human data from experimental, occupational, and epidemiologic studies; data from accident reports; and experimental-animal data. The evaluations focused primarily on high-concentration inhalation exposure studies. The subcommittee's recommended SEALs are based solely on scientific data relevant to health effects. The report includes the recommendations for each gas as determined by the subcommittee as well as the Navy's original instructions for these substances.


  • Environment and Environmental Studies — Pollutants and Toxics
  • Environment and Environmental Studies — Environmental Health and Safety

Publication Info

310 pages | 6x9
ISBN: 978-0-309-08294-5

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-xx
Summary 1-6
1 Introduction 7-21
2 Ammonia 22-68
3 Carbon Monoxide 69-96
4 Chlorine 97-131
5 Hydrogen Chloride 132-152
6 Hydrogen Cyanide 153-177
7 Hydrogen Sulfide 178-218
8 Nitrogen Dioxide 219-247
9 Sulfur Dioxide 248-287
10 Conclusions and Recommendations 288-290
Related Resources
Research Tools

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. Review of Submarine Escape Action Levels for Selected Chemicals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002.

Import this citation to:

Copyright Information

The National Academies Press (NAP) has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's Rightslink service to offer you a variety of options for reusing NAP content. Through Rightslink, you may request permission to reprint NAP content in another publication, course pack, secure website, or other media. Rightslink allows you to instantly obtain permission, pay related fees, and print a license directly from the NAP website. The complete terms and conditions of your reuse license can be found in the license agreement that will be made available to you during the online order process. To request permission through Rightslink you are required to create an account by filling out a simple online form. The following list describes license reuses offered by the National Academies Press (NAP) through Rightslink:

  • Republish text, tables, figures, or images in print
  • Post on a secure Intranet/Extranet website
  • Use in a PowerPoint Presentation
  • Distribute via CD-ROM
  • Photocopy

Click here to obtain permission for the above reuses. If you have questions or comments concerning the Rightslink service, please contact:

Rightslink Customer Care
Tel (toll free): 877/622-5543
Tel: 978/777-9929

To request permission to distribute a PDF, please contact our Customer Service Department at 800-624-6242 for pricing.

To request permission to translate a book published by the National Academies Press or its imprint, the Joseph Henry Press, please click here to view more information.

Related Books more

More by the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology more