Professionals in the industrial field of work come across strong and hazardous chemicals. One of the strongest inorganic acids used for industrial purposes is hydrofluoric acid, making hydrofluoride acid safety extremely important in industrial workplaces. Listed below are features of the unique burn caused by hydrofluoric acid and hydrofluoride acid safety precautions one can take to avoid such a burn.
Dangers of Hydrofluoric Acid
- As the acid itself is highly corrosive and poisonous, the burns associated with hydrofluoric acid are incredibly painful.
- If breathed or swallowed, the acid causes immense damage to the mucous membranes.
- Hydrofluoric acid penetrates the skin deeply, causing a delay in burn symptoms.
- After the acid comes in contact with skin, the appearance of a burn is almost non-existent for several hours.
- Anyone who touches a hydrofluoric acid burn may sustain secondary burns.
- Once onset, fluid leaks from the burn and skin falls off in layers.
- Exposure to hydrofluoric acid can cause systemic toxicity from fluoride poisoning.
- Because of the rapidity with which the acid is absorbed by the body, it can cause extensive damage and even death.
The list above exhibits the risks association with this dangerous chemical and the need for hydrofluoride acid safety. The following hydrofluoride acid safety tips are intended to prevent the harmful consequences associated with exposure to this chemical. The hydrofluoride acid safety tips below are meant as a guideline and should not be a substitute for handling the chemical as carefully as possible.
- Use only in an adequately ventilated area in order to minimize inhalation of the acid’s vapor.
- Wear chemical splash goggles with a face shield. Because of the highly corrosive nature of hydrofluoric acid, safety glasses with side shields do not offer enough protection when dealing with concentrated hydrofluoric acid.
- Always wear body protection. Never wear shorts or open-toed shoes when handling this chemical. Cover all areas where skin can be exposed to the chemical and wear work boots as the acid can leak through shoes and socks.
- Use gloves that are a medium or heavyweight. Preferably the gloves should be made of viton, nitrile, or natural rubber, with a second pair worn underneath to protect against leaks. you can check out our power washer safety tips page to find different types of protection that can be used.
- Have an eye wash station and shower close by. Regularly test this station occasionally to make sure it is operational.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke where hydrofluoric acid is handled as the chemical is also extremely dangerous if ingested or inhaled.
- Always keep calcium gluconate gel in areas where hydrofluoric acid is handled. Calcium gluconate gel is an antidote for hydrofluoric acid skin exposure and can limit damaging affects of the acid.
- Always wash hands after handling the acid.
Even when using these hydrofluoride acid safety tips, accidents can happen. In case of eye exposure, be sure to immediately irrigate eyes with water for at least fifteen minutes. If hydrofluoric acid is accidentally ingested, drink large amounts of water and contact medical help. Do no induce vomiting, but instead try to dilute the solution. In the case if inhalation, immediately move to fresh air as quickly as possible to avoid any injury. Lastly, if an individual’s skin is exposed to the chemical, promptly rinse the skin with water. Limit the washing to five minutes and have calcium gluconate gel ready for application. The gel needs to be applied quickly to limit the migration of the fluoride ion. Calcium gluconate gel is an antidote for hydrofluoric acid skin exposure and should be kept close by in case of emergency. If the gel is not readily available and skin has been exposed, extend the rinsing to fifteen minutes. In all cases of hydrofluoric acid exposure, seek immediate medical care.