What is Hydrofluoric Acid?

What is Hydrofluoric Acid?

Hydrofluoric acid (HF), which termed as ‘The Bone Seeker’, has been used in glass etching, rust removal, petroleum refining, tanning and dyeing since mass production in 1931. It has become an indispensable raw material for the semiconductor industry and an important catalyst in the petrochemical process. Depending on its concentration, exposure to HF can cause death.

Where hydrogen fluoride is found and how it is used

  • Hydrogen fluoride is used to make refrigerants, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, high-octane gasoline, aluminum, plastics, electrical components, and fluorescent light bulbs. Sixty percent of the hydrogen fluoride used in manufacturing is for processes to make refrigerants.
  • Hydrogen fluoride is also used for etching glass and metal.

How you could be exposed to hydrogen fluoride

  • In a natural disaster, you could be exposed to high levels of hydrogen fluoride when storage facilities or containers are damaged and the chemical is released. This release could occur at an industrial site or even a retail location.
  • You could be exposed to hydrogen fluoride if it is used as a chemical terrorism agent.
  • If you work in an occupation that uses hydrogen fluoride, you may be exposed to this chemical in the workplace.
  • You may be exposed to hydrogen fluoride as part of a hobby.

How hydrogen fluoride works

  • Hydrogen fluoride goes easily and quickly through the skin and into the tissues in the body. There it damages the cells and causes them to not work properly.
  • The seriousness of poisoning caused by hydrogen fluoride depends on the amount, route, and length of time of exposure, as well as the age and preexisting medical condition of the person exposed.
  • Breathing hydrogen fluoride can damage lung tissue and cause swelling and fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
  • Skin contact with hydrogen fluoride may cause severe burns that develop after several hours and form skin ulcers.

What Harm Does Hydrofluoric Acid Cause to the Human Body?

HF is a weak acid but highly toxic and corrosive. The harm to the human body can be divided into the skin, respiratory tract, eye, and digestive tract. The main cause that contributes to a life-threatening situation is still skin exposure. There might be no obvious symptoms at the beginning, but if it is not treated in time, the black necrosis of the affected part must be amputated or even cause death

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