Jeff, Harry, et al,
I am a physician and a medical toxicologist and one of my particular interests is HF.
You want to go down to the auto parts store, you can buy 6-13% HF as a cleaning agent for "chrome wheels" or as a rust remover. There's a phosphoric acid product also avaiable.
I had a patient one bought one of these "rust/stain removers" and used it for 8 hours to clean windows in her house (no accounting for tastes - surprised the glass wasn't etched), didn't wear any gloves, and went to bed. Woke up in the middle of the night with really, really bad pain inher dominant hand. Dilute HF may not cause pain for several hours after exposure, but it is all out of proportion to the obvious clinical appearance.
Didn't want to wake up her primary care physician, so toughed it out until office hours. Told him she had used a usual windown cleaner. He treated her as an allergic reaction.
By the time we figured out it was HF, she lost her thumb and the first 2 fingers of her dominant hand.
Now, could probably be prevented. Stuff I can't discuss on this listserve, but we did do some good research on calcium gluconate at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Dru Center where I trained.
So my recommendation would be that whatever concentration HF you work with, having calcium gluconate gel available as a first aid measure would be a very good idea. Many employers provide 3 tubes: 1 in the worker's pocket, 1 in his/her locker in the changing room, and 1 in he medicine cabinet at home. To be used by inunction as soon as pain is perceived and then immediate going to whatever healthcare facility the employer uses, hopefully with prior instruction that HF is not "just another acid -- it can not only burn you, it can KILL you. I don't ever want to get another call about "our patient just died, can you tell us why?". (HF mistaken as being HCl.)
AlanH. Hall, M.D.
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