8.9 Corrosives8.9 Corrosives
OSHA defines a corrosive as “a chemical that causes visible destruction of, or irreversible alterations in living tissue by chemical action at the site of contact.” Under the DOT hazard class system, corrosives are listed as hazard class 8.
Corrosive chemicals can be further subdivided as acids and bases. Corrosives can be in the liquid, solid, or gaseous state. Corrosive chemicals can have a severe effect on eyes, skin, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract if an exposure occurs. Corrosive solids and their dusts can react with moisture on the skin or in the respiratory tract and result in an exposure.
Whenever working with concentrated corrosive solutions, splash goggles should be worn instead of safety glasses. Splash goggles used in conjunction with a face shield provides better protection.
Corrosive chemicals should be handled in a fume hood to avoid breathing corrosive vapors and gases.
When mixing concentrated acids with water, always add acid slowly to the water (specifically, add the more concentrated acid to the dilute acid). Never add water to acid, this can result in a boiling effect and cause acid to splatter. Do not pour the acid directly into the water; it should be poured in a manner that allows it to run down the sides of the container. Never store corrosive chemicals above eye level and always use a protective bottle carrier when transporting corrosive chemicals.
Some chemicals can react with acids and liberate toxic and/or flammable vapors. When working with corrosive materials, ensure spill cleanup material is available for neutralization, such as Calcium carbonate for acids and Citric acid for bases.
Wherever acids and bases are used, an eyewash and emergency shower must be available. If any corrosive chemical gets splashed in the eyes, immediately go to an eyewash station and flush your eyes for at least 15 minutes. The importance of flushing for at least 15 minutes cannot be overstated! Once the eyewash has been activated, use your fingers to hold your eyelids open and roll your eyeballs in the stream of water so the entire eye can be flushed. After flushing for at least 15 minutes, seek medical attention immediately and complete an Injury/Illness Report.
For small splashes of corrosives to the skin, remove any contaminated gloves, lab coats, etc., and wash the affected area with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Seek medical attention afterward, especially if symptoms persist.For large splashes of corrosives to the body, it is important to get to an emergency shower and start flushing for at least 15 minutes. Once under the shower, and after the shower has been activated, it is equally important to remove any contaminated clothing. Failure to remove contaminated clothing can result in the chemical being held against the skin and causing further chemical exposure and damage. After flushing for a minimum of 15 minutes, seek medical attention immediately and complete an Injury/Illness Report.
- Hydrofluoric Acid Designated Area Sign (docx)
- Hydrofluoric Acid Prior Approval Form
- OSHA Definition of Health Hazard
- Prudent Practices in the Laboratory
- EHS Online Training Programs
- Hydrofluoric Acid Information from Honeywell
- Hydrofluoric Acid First Aid Sign (docx)
Please note: some chemicals, such as Hydrofluoric acid, require the use of a special antidote (such as Calcium gluconate gel) and special emergency procedures. Read the SDSs for any chemical(s) you work with to determine if a special antidote is needed if a chemical exposure occurs.
8.9.1 Hydrofluoric Acid8.9.1 Hydrofluoric Acid
Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) is one of the most hazardous chemicals at used Cornell. Small exposures to HF can be fatal if not treated properly. The critical minutes immediately after an exposure can have a great effect on the chances of a victim’s survival.
HF is a gas that is dissolved in water to form Hydrofluoric acid. The concentration can vary from very low such as in store bought products up to the most concentrated 70% form (anhydrous), with the most common lab use around 48%. The liquid is colorless, non-flammable and has a pungent odor. The OSHA permissible exposure limit is 3 ppm, but concentrations should be kept as low as possible. HF is actually a weak acid by definition and not as corrosive as strong acids such as Hydrochloric (HCl), however, corrosivity is the least hazardous aspect of HF. The toxicity of HF is the main concern.
HF is absorbed through the skin quickly and is a severe systemic toxin. The fluoride ion binds calcium in the blood, bones and other organs and causes damage to tissues that is very painful and can be lethal. At the emergency room, the victim is often given calcium injections, but pain medication is not generally given since the pain subsiding is the only indication that the calcium injections are working.
Due to the serious hazard of working with HF, the following requirements and guidelines are provided:
- All users of HF must receive EHS Hydrofluoric Acid Safety training as well as training by their supervisor. The EHS Hydrofluoric Acid Safety training is available online.
- A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) must be written for the process in which HF is used. This SOP should be posted or readily available near the designated area where HF use will occur.
- HF should only be used in a designated fume hood and the fume hood should be identified by posting a HF Designated Area Sign (docx).
- First Aid - A HF first aid kit must be available that includes 2.5% calcium gluconate gel. The Calcium gluconate gel can be obtained at the Cornell Health dispensary with a department charge number and should be replaced with new stock annually. The Hydrofluoric Acid First Aid Sign (docx) should be posted in a prominent place where the Calcium gluconate gel is located.
- Spill Kits - An HF spill kit must be available with calcium compounds such as Calcium carbonate, Calcium sulfate or Calcium hydroxide. Sodium bicarbonate should never be used since it does not bind the fluoride ion and can generate toxic aerosols.
Prior approval - Before anyone uses HF they must have prior approval from the Principal investigator. The names of lab personnel should be added to an HF Prior Approval form showing that they have are familiar with the following:
- Has read the SDS for HF
- Has read the HF Use SOP developed by the lab
- Has read the Hydrofluoric acid section in this Lab Safety Manual
- Is aware of the designated area for HF use
- Knows the first aid procedure in case of an HF exposure
- Knows what to do incase of an HF spill
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – The following PPE is required for HF use:
- Rubber or plastic apron
- Plastic arm coverings
- Incidental use - double glove with heavy nitrile exam gloves and re-glove if any exposure to the gloves
- Extended use – heavy neoprene or butyl over nitrile or silver shield gloves
- Splash goggles in conjunction with a fume hood sash
- Closed toed shoes
- Long pants and a long sleeve shirt with a reasonably high neck (no low cut)
The following are safe practice guidelines when working with HF:
- Never work alone with HF but have a buddy system.
- Use a plastic tray while working with HF for containment in case of a spill.
- Keep containers of HF closed. HF can etch the glass sash and make it hard to see through (if the hood sash becomes fogged and hard to see though due to etching, then please contact EHS at 607-255-8200 about installing a polycarbonate sash)
- Safety Data Sheet (SDS) – A SDS for HF must be available.
- All containers of HF must be clearly labeled. Secondary labels for all non-original containers can be printed from Chemwatch.
- The stock HF should be stored in plastic secondary containment and the cabinet should be labeled. HF should be stored in lower cabinets near the floor.
- Wash gloves off with water before removing them.
Additional information on the safe use and handling of Hydrofluoric acid (HF) can be found on the Honeywell website - the world's largest producer of Hydrofluoric Acid. This website contains useful information on HF such as:
- Safety Data Sheets
- Technical Data Sheets
- Recommended Medical Treatment for HF exposure
- HF Properties charts
- Online Training
8.9.2 Perchloric Acid8.9.2 Perchloric Acid
Perchloric acid is a strong oxidizing acid that can react violently with organic materials. Perchloric acid can also explode if concentrated above 72%. For any work involving heated Perchloric acid (such as in Perchloric acid digestions), the work must be conducted in a special Perchloric acid fume hood with a wash down function. If heated Perchloric acid is used in a standard fume hood, the hot Perchloric acid vapors can react with the metal in the hood ductwork to form shock sensitive metallic perchlorates. When working with Perchloric acid, be sure to remove all organic materials, such as solvents, from the immediate work area. Due to the potential danger of Perchloric acid, if possible, try to use alternate techniques that do not involve the use of Perchloric acid. If you must use Perchloric acid in your experiments, only purchase the smallest size container necessary.
Because Perchloric acid is so reactive, it is important to keep it stored separate from other chemicals, particularly organic solvents, organic acids, and reducing agents. All containers of Perchloric acid should be inspected regularly for container integrity and the acid should be checked for discoloration. Discolored Perchloric acid should be discarded as hazardous waste. Perchloric acid should be used and stored away from combustible materials, and away from wooden furniture. Like all acids, but particularly with Perchloric acid, secondary containment should be used for storage.