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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
LABORATORY CHEMICAL SAFETY SUMMARY: HYDROGEN FLUORIDE AND HYDROFLUORIC ACID
Hydrogen fluoride and hydrofluoric acid
Colorless, clear, fuming liquid
Anhydrous HF: bp 20 °C, mp -83 °C
Miscible with water
Acrid, irritating odor
Anhydrous HF: 775 mmHg at 20 °C
Hydrofluoric acid: 14 mmHg at 20 °C
LCLO inhal (humans)
50 ppm (0.5 h)
3 ppm (as fluoride)
3 ppm (2.6 mg/m3; ceiling as fluoride)
Extremely corrosive liquid and vapor that can cause severe injury via skin and eye contact, inhalation, or ingestion.
Anhydrous hydrogen fluoride and hydrofluoric acid are extremely corrosive to all tissues of the body. Skin contact results in painful deep-seated burns that are slow to heal. Burns from dilute (<50%) HF solutions do not usually become apparent until several hours after exposure; more concentrated solutions and anhydrous HF cause immediate painful burns and tissue destruction. HF burns pose unique dangers distinct from other acids such as HCl and H2SO4: undissociated HF readily penetrates the skin, damaging underlying tissue; fluoride ion can then cause destruction of soft tissues and decalcification of the bones. Hydrofluoric acid and HF vapor can cause severe burns to the eyes, which may lead to permanent damage and blindness. At 10 to 15 ppm, HF vapor is irritating to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Exposure to higher concentrations can result in serious damage to the lungs, and fatal pulmonary edema may develop after a delay of several hours. Brief exposure (5 min) to 50 to 250 ppm may be fatal to humans. Ingestion of HF can produce severe injury to the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract and may be fatal.
HF has not been reported to be a human carcinogen. No acceptable animal test reports are available to define the developmental or reproductive toxicity of this substance.