Environmental Health and Safety for Academic Affairs
 

Policies

HF Use Policy 

HEALTH HAZARDS

Hydrofluoric acid is a strongly corrosive chemical. It is one of the strongest inorganic acids in common use. HF readily penetrates the skin and mucous membranes, and can cause deep tissue destruction. Severity and timing of effects depends on the concentration, duration of exposure, and penetrability of the exposed tissue. Symptoms may start immediately or pain may be delayed. Life threatening systemic toxicity may follow dermal exposure with minimal external tissue damage. A seemingly minimal exposure can lead to severe medical consequences including death.

Extreme care must be taken to avoid conditions that would lead to spills or splashes of hydrofluoric acid. All work must be conducted in a fume hood. Workers must wear, at a minimum, 8 mil nitrile gloves, cotton lab coat, apron and safety glasses. When working with strong concentrations, large quantities or splashes are possible workers must also wear a face shield, neoprene gloves (or an equivalent chemical protective glove selected using the manufacturer's data) and chemically protective arm sleeves. All exposures to hydrofluoric acid require immediate first aid response and prompt medical treatment.

Only use plastic beakers; hydrofluoric acid etches glass.

Hydrofluoric acid has a number of chemical, physical, and toxicological properties, which make handling this material especially hazardous. Its solution or its vapors can cause severe burns to tissue and cause serious toxic systemic effects.

Skin, eye, or lung exposure to concentrated (>50%) hydrofluoric acid solutions will cause immediate, severe, penetrating burns. Exposure to less concentrated solutions may have serious health effects, but the appearance of symptoms can be delayed for up to 24 hours. If you are exposed to hydrofluoric acid seek medical attention immediately, even if you do not feel pain.

At the concentrations used in the laboratory you may initially feel no pain after contamination. However, the acid will silently “dig” its way to the bone. When the fluoride ions reach the bone the excruciating pain begins and it is TOO LATE to reverse the considerable tissue damage. At some point, if left untreated, serious injury or death will result.

Washing the affected area with copious amounts of water is not sufficient to prevent damage. The acid will continue to damage your body until you receive medical attention specific to HF burns (including deep injections to neutralize the penetrated acid).

An emergency kit for HF exposures should be located on the wall immediately after you enter the lab area. A detailed emergency response procedure is also posted on that wall next to the emergency kit.

HF Skin Exposure

  1. Put gloves on before you assist the exposed lab worker. Wear  neoprene gloves (8 mil). Take the exposed individual to an emergency shower or other water source and flush the contaminated skin with large amounts of cool running water for at least 15 minutes. The exposed individual should remove any potentially contaminated clothing, shoes and jewelry while flushing with water.
  2. While exposed individual is being rinsed with water, someone should call for emergency transport. Call Campus Safety at X5566 and tell the dispatcher the following:
    • There is a person that has been exposed the Hydrofluoric Acid.
    • Location of the exposed individual.
    • Send an officer and ambulance.
    • Ask Campus Safety dispatcher to notify the emergency room that an individual with HF burns is on the way.
  3. After flushing with water, dry the exposed area(s) and apply calcium gluconate gel.
    • A tube of calcium gluconate gel is located inside the HF exposure kit.
    • Note the time when the calcium gluconate gel was first applied to the exposed area(s). Reapply every 20 minutes. Provide this information to the EMSteam.
    • In order to prevent cross contamination, the victim should self-apply the calcium gluconate gel. If the exposed individual is unable to self apply, anyone present can apply the gel after putting on the neoprene gloves (8 mil). Do not use latex gloves; they are not effective against HF.
  4. Have the exposed individual wear the disposable coveralls.
  5. The exposed individual must be escorted to the hospital byEMS .
  6. A copy of the MSDS and Health Hazard information must also be taken to the hospital.
  7. Do not attempt to clean up the spilled HF. Wait for Facilities Services assistance.

HF Exposure to the Eyes

  1. Decontaminate in the eye was for at least 15 minutes holding both eye lids open for irrigation.
  2. While exposed individual is being rinsed with water, someone should call for emergency transport. Call Campus Safety at X5566 and tell the dispatcher the following:
    • There is a person that has been exposed the Hydrofluoric Acid.
    • Location of the exposed individual.
    • Send an officer and ambulance.
    • Ask Campus Safety dispatcher to notify Saratoga Hospital ER that an individual with HF burns is on the way.
  3. Self-administer calcium gluconate gel to any exposed areas of the FACE. If the exposed individual is unable to self apply, anyone present can apply the gel after putting on the neoprene gloves (8 mil). Do not use latex gloves; they are not effective against HF.
  4. The exposed individual must be escorted to the hospital by the EMS .
  5. A copy of the MSDS and Health Hazard information from the first aid kit must also be taken to the hospital.
  6. Do not attempt to clean up the spilled HF. Wait for Facilities Services assistance.

HF Inhalation

  1. Remove the exposed person to fresh air – only if it is safe to do so.
  2. Call Public Safety at X5566 and tell the dispatcher the following:
    • There is a person that has been exposed the Hydrofluoric Acid.
    • Location of the exposed individual.
    • Send an officer and ambulance.
    • Ask Campus Safety dispatcher to notify Saratoga Hospital ER that an individual with HF exposure is on the way.
  3. The exposed individual must be escorted to the hospital by the EMS .
  4. A copy of the MSDS and Health Hazard information from the first aid kit must also be taken to the hospital.
  5. Do not attempt to clean up any spilled HF. Wait for Facilities Services assistance. 

This section is still under construction, please check back for more information.

 

 

 

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