Sunday 25 December 2016

Hydrogen chloride/ hydrochloric acid: health effects, incident management and toxicology

Hydrogen chloride/ hydrochloric acid is a commonly used in laboratories. The U.K. government has recently updated safety information relating to use of the chemical.

Key points from the review are:

  • hydrogen chloride is a colourless or slightly yellow gas
  • hydrogen chloride gas dissolves readily in water to give hydrochloric acid
  • it has many industrial uses, is found in consumer products and may be used in swimming pools to alter the pH
  • low levels of naturally occurring hydrogen chloride may occur in the air, however most is removed by the rain; it is also produced by some human activities
  • hydrogen chloride is highly irritating and corrosive breathing hydrogen chloride for a short period of time can cause irritation to the nose and throat, causing coughing and shortness of breath
  • higher concentrations can also cause headache, fever wheeze, a rapid heart rate and confusion; in serious cases the airways and lungs may be damaged
  • hydrogen chloride gas can form hydrochloric acid on the skin which is highly irritating and corrosive
  • hydrochloric acid solutions are highly corrosive and can cause skin burns on contact; they may also damage the eyes
  • drinking hydrochloric acid will burn the mouth, throat and stomach
Further information can be found here.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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