Last Revised: April 11, 2022
The requirements in Penn's Chemical Hygiene Plan SOP: Corrosives and SOP: Acutely Toxic Chemicals apply to all work involving hydrofluoric acid. The Fact Sheet below gives hazard information and precautions for working with this chemical; however, this information is provided as a supplement to the SOPs, which must first be read and understood by anyone planning to work with this chemical.
Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is a strongly corrosive chemical. 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.
A Hydrofluoric Acid Exposure Response Kit must be available near the point of use in every lab that stores or handles this acid. See Emergency Equipment below for ordering information.
A Hazard Control Plan is highly recommended for procedures involving hydrofluoric acid (HF), and one may be required by EHRS under certain circumstances.
Contact EHRS for assistance with your hazard assessment.
All work with HF requires the approval of the P.I. The P.I. must ensure that the person or team who will be working with the chemical writes a task-specific Hazard Control Plan (HCP) if required by EHRS or the P.I.'s hazard assessment. The HCP must be sent to EHRS for review. EHRS will upload the HCP to the “documents” section of the lab’s BioRAFT page.
The P.I. must also ensure that the person or team who will be working with the chemical understands the hazards and has received adequate training and supervision for the procedure.
Any procedures involving the heating of HF must be reviewed by EHRS. This may not be done in a standard laboratory fume hood without express approval.
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, N Dex 8005 8 mil nitrile gloves, cotton lab coat, apron, and safety glasses. When strong concentrations, large quantities or splashes are possible workers must also wear a face shield, Best Ultraflex Neoprene glove (or an equivalent chemical protective glove selected using the manufacturer's data) and chemically protective arm sleeves.
Due to the risk of splashes and equipment failures, do not use a syringe and needle to perform transfers of hydrofluoric acid solutions in volumes of greater than 5 mL. When performing small-volume liquid transfers of chemicals with health hazards, it is not appropriate to use a luer-slip syringe type, because the needle can easily detach from the syringe barrel resulting in chemical splash and exposure. Luer-lock or integrated-needle syringes must be used with these chemicals if a chemical exposure due to splash presents a significant health risk.
The fume hood where HF is used and the cabinet where HF is stored must both be labeled to indicate that work with HF is done in that area. All lab occupants should be made aware that HF is being used while work is in progress. No other procedures should be done in the fume hood until all HF work is complete, the waste has been collected, and equipment and materials have been cleaned, properly discarded, or removed from the area.
Verify that your laboratory has an eye wash and that it properly functions. Identify the location of an emergency shower either inside your lab or close by in the hallway or equipment corridor. Check the inspection date on the shower tag and confirm that it was inspected within the last year. Contact EHRS if shower inspections are not current.
A Hydrofluoric Acid Exposure Response Kit must be available near the point of use in every lab that stores or handles this acid. The HF First Aid Kit contains calcium gluconate gel, disposable jump suit (to wear if clothing is contaminated), chemical resistant gloves to use in assisting someone who has been exposed to HF, and emergency medical treatment instructions. Hydrofluoric Acid Exposure Response Kits are available for purchase from Fisher Scientific using this webform on the EHRS website.
All exposures or suspected to hydrofluoric acid require immediate first aid response and prompt medical treatment.
Penn's HF Exposure Response Kits (see above) contain first aid instructions for HF skin and eye exposures. The HF first aid instructions can also be found here: First Aid Treatment Instructions for Hydrofluoric Acid Exposure
Penn's HF Exposure Response Kit (see above) also contains a copy of Emergency Medical Treatment instructions from the National Library of Medicine. A copy of the instructions should be given to emergency medical responders. The HF emergency medical treatment instructions can also be found here: Medical Response instructions for Hydrofluoric Acid Exposure (Provide a copy to medical responders)
General emergency response information can be found at Emergency Info
Special FIRST AID instructions for HF exposure to skin or eyes
Quickly remove all contaminated clothing while using the safety shower or other available source of water.
- Immediately flood the affected body area in cold water for at least 5 minutes.
- Apply calcium gluconate to the affected areas.
- Call 511 for emergency transport to the hospital (University City campus) or 911 (New Bolton Center or other location).
General procedures for chemicals spill response can be found in Section X: Chemical Spills in this CHP.
Do not hesitate to call EHRS for assistance with spill cleanup for hydrofluoric acid.
24 hours: 215-898-4453