Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2009 15:36:33 -0500
Reply-To: Ernie Lippert <ernielippert**At_Symbol_Here**TOAST.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Ernie Lippert <ernielippert**At_Symbol_Here**TOAST.NET>
Subject: HF
The attached information includes some general information on the use and
handling of HF. This is a material whose potential to cause serious problems
must not be underestimated.


Ernie Lippert



Hydrofluoric acid

In case of skin contact or suspected skin contact, flush the area with water
for several minutes, carefully dry by blotting and cover the area with 2.5%
Calcium gluconate cream (available from laboratory safety supply houses). If
pain does not develop within 8 to 24 hours, the area may be cleaned. If pain
does occur, seek medical attention.


Users of HF must wash gloves with water before removing them and then wash
their hands and other possibly exposed areas.


Hydrofluoric acid (<50%) is insidious in the sense that skin contact usually
does not produce any sensation such as warmth, stinging, etc. (except
perhaps in the case of chapped hands or the presence of micro-cuts). After 8
to 24 hours, the area becomes quite painful and may redden or blister. Seek
immediate medical attention. The treatment is injection of calcium gluconate
solution at the base of the blisters or contact area. This treatment is
reputed to be painful, but probably less so than the burn itself.


Great care must be exercised when handling hydrofluoric acid or cleaning up
any associated spill. HF can cause severe burns that may not be immediately
apparent. Contact with this acid can lead to bone damage and other toxic
effects including death. Any analyst responsible for handling HF must be
specifically trained on appropriate handling and usage guidelines for HF
prior to being assigned responsibilities involving its use. As always, read
the MSDS information.


Handling hydrofluoric acid requires extreme care. Your local hospital must
be equipped to treat HF exposure. Work with them to establish a protocol.
Make certain that they do not confuse hydrofluoric acid with hydrochloric


2.5% Calcium gluconate cream must be available in the laboratory for
immediate First Aid in case of skin contact.



Several years ago, we received, by common carrier, a shipment of
hydrofluoric acid in 4 500 ml plastic bottles in a well-constructed
cardboard box. A chemist picked up the box and carried it to the lab. She
noticed that the bottom of the box was wet with liquid that had transferred
to her lab coat and jeans. She immediately went to the women's room,
disrobed and washed the affected areas. She applied 2.5% Calcium gluconate
cream. She was taken to the emergency room at the local hospital. I don't
recall if she had calcium gluconate injections - perhaps one or two but I am
not certain. Recovery was uneventful with no lasting damage.


Investigation revealed that the box containing the hydrofluoric acid bottles
had a puncture hole. This hole was apparently produced by a nail that
pierced the cardboard box and one bottle about 1 cm above the liquid line.
This apparently happened during the common carrier transport. When the
chemist picked up the box, she tipped it toward herself and allowed the
hydrofluoric acid to leak through the puncture hole.


We surmised that this puncture occurred during transport. The common carrier
was contacted. It was established that no hydrofluoric acid contamination
was present in the truck and that the driver was not at risk.



You never know what may happen. Safety professionals and everyone else must
maintain vigilance. Safety is everyone's responsibility.


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