Exposure of only 2% of your body to concentrated HF can lead to death. It is lethal at concentrations of only 50 ppm in air. Fluoride ions bind rapidly to electrolyte ions in your tissues (e.g., Ca2+), causing severe electrolyte imbalance. Death can occur in as little as 30 minutes. Death is usually from massive organ failure (heart failure, etc.). If you do not die quickly you will develop severe burns, excruciating pain, and possibly severe bone damage. The idea that HF primarily affects your bones is a common misunderstanding. Bone problems only develop if you survive.
Ellis Hospital Emergency Room
Phone 243-4121 — the lab phone requires a 3 before the number.
Go out the north (Nott St.) gate.
Turn right onto Nott St.
At the 5-way intersection with the lights, with Ellis Hospital right in front of you, bear left to the north side of Ellis Hospital.
Look for the sign Emergency Entrance.
HF can be used safely. It is used safely in large quantities for industrial applications and in commercial labs. HF requires a healthy respect, good lab practices, and appropriate safety precautions.
Burke, W.J., Hoegg, U.R., and Phillips, R.E., 1973, Systemic fluoride poisoning resulting from a fluoride skin burn: Journal of Occupational Medcine, v. 15, p.e 39-41.
Greco, R.J., Hartford, C.E., Haith, L.R., and Patton, M.L., 1988, Hydrofluoric acid-induced hypocalcemia: Journal of Trauma-Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, v. 28, p. 1593-1596.
Muilett, T., Zoeller, T., Bingham, H., Pepine, C.J., Prida, X.E., Castenholz, R., and Kirby, R., 1987, Fatal hydrofluoric acid cutaneous exposure with refractory ventricular fibrillation: Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, v. 8, p. 216-219.
Muriale, L., Lee, E., Genovese, J., and Trend, S., 1996, Fatality due to acute fluoride poisoning following dermal contact with hydrofluoric acid in a palynology laboratory. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, v. 40, p. 705-710.
Trevino, M.A., Hermann, G.H., and Sprout, W.L., 1983, Treatment of severe hydrofluoric acid exposure. Journal of Occupational Medicine, v. 25, p. 861-863.