Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is a clear, colorless corrosive liquid that is extremely hazardous. DO NOT confuse hydrofluoric acid with hydrochloric acid (HCl). The toxicity of HF and HCl are very different.
Hydrofluoric acid is readily absorbed through skin and damages tissues by 2 mechanisms (the double whammy):
- Corrosive burn from free hydrogen (H+) ions and
- Chemical burn from free fluoride ( F- ) ions
So not only does the chemical damage tissue due to its corrosivity, the fluoride ions form insoluble salts with calcium and magnesium found in the body. The fluoride ion does not belong in your body and can cause serious tissue/bone damage or even death.
All users of HF MUST go through classroom training before using the chemical (no online training available). No exceptions. During the classroom training, we will discuss:
- Properties of hydrofluoric acid
- Regulatory exposure Limits
- Routes of exposure and health effects
- Protecting yourself
- Handling and storage
- Spills and accidents
- Waste disposal