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Alternative NamesFluorhydric acid
Definition Return to top
Hydrofluoric acid is a very strong inorganic acid. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing, breathing in, or touching hydrofluoric acid.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Poisonous Ingredient Return to top
Where Found Return to top
This acid is most commonly used for industrial purposes. It is used in:
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.
Symptoms Return to top
From breathing in (inhaling) the acid:
From touching the acid:
Home Care Return to top
Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.
If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.
Immediately take the person to the hospital.
Before Calling Emergency Return to top
Determine the following information:
Poison Control Return to top
If you suspect possible poisoning, seek emergency medical care immediately.
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room Return to top
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Swallowing this acid can cause a severe drop in blood pressure. If the person breathed in fumes from the acid, the health care provider may hear signs of fluid in the lungs when listening to the chest with a stethoscope.
Specific treatment depends on how the poisoning occurred. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.
If the person swallowed the poison, treatment may include:
If the person touched the poison, treatment may include:
If the person breathed in the poison, treatment may include:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Hydroflouric acid is especially dangerous. The most common accidents occur with hydroflouric acid causing severe burns on the skins and hands. The burns may be extremely painful. Patients will have a lot of scarring and some loss of function of the area involved.
Persons who swallow hydroflouric acid can have a lot of damage to the inside organs, which can lead to a painful death.
References Return to top
Chemical Emergencies: Case Definition: Hydrofluoric Acid. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2005.
Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2006.Update Date: 2/3/2009 Updated by: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Samaritan Regional Health System, Ashland, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.