What is hydrogen fluoride?
Hydrogen fluoride, also known as hydrofluoric acid or HF, is a colorless, corrosive gas made up of a hydrogen atom and a fluorine atom. It is produced by reacting a naturally occurring mineral, fluorspar, with sulphuric acid.
Where is it found?
Hydrogen fluoride is a raw material that is commonly used in the manufacture of commercial and industrial products, including detergents, electronics, refrigerants, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, gasoline, plastics, stainless steel kitchen products, aluminum, and incandescent light bulbs.
Due to its strong corrosive qualities, a diluted form of hydrofluoric acid is used in some commercial automotive cleaners, and rust and stain removers. In laboratories and industrial environments, it can be used for etching glass and enamel, removing rust, cleaning brass and crystal, and in extraction and purification processes. Hydrogen fluoride is also used in chemical and petroleum refineries, as well as power plants.
What are the dangers?
When using commercially available products that contain hydrofluoric acid, extreme care should be taken. Since hydrogen fluoride moves easily and quickly through the skin and into the tissues of the body, skin contact or inhalation of this super toxic gas can cause moderate to severe health effects. However, symptoms depend on exposure levels, lengths and routes.
Hydrogen fluoride, even at low levels, can irritate the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract. Breathing in the gas at high levels can cause severe electrolyte issues, and death from an irregular heartbeat or from fluid buildup in the lungs. Small splashes on the skin can be fatal. Skin contact may cause severe pain and result in a rash or deep, slow-healing burns.
Long-term health effects of acute exposure may include chronic lung disease, skin scarring, permanent visual defects, narrowing of the esophagus, and bone loss.
Otis Instruments’ solution
The presence of hydrogen fluoride in commercial and industrial applications represents a critical control point for the health and safety of personnel and the environment. Therefore, the monitoring of this substance at hazardous locations is essential.
Otis Instruments offers an array of wired and WireFree robust and configurable gas detection instruments capable of detecting super toxic gases. Utilizing an electrochemical sensor, our 6000, 6900 and 6940 series products can quickly and accurately detect hydrogen fluoride within diverse industries and applications.
For more information on detecting super toxic gases, like hydrogen fluoride, with our products, contact our team today.