Hydrofluoric Acid Exposure to Eyes

What Happened?

While preparing a sample contained in a solution with hydrofluoric acid for loading into an optical emission spectrometer, a researcher possibly exposes her eyes to hydrofluoric acid. The researcher opened the sample tube and felt a splash of the hydrofluoric acid solution hit her eye. She immediately rinsed her eyes with water from the sink but did not use the eyewash station. The researcher then sought medical attention at the emergency room, where her eyes were rinsed with a saline solution containing calcium gluconate. At the time of the accident the researcher was not wearing eye protection.

What Was The Cause?

The cause of this accident is not quite clear; the researcher could have been distracted, inattentive or tired. However, eye protection would have prevented the exposure.

What Corrective Actions Were Taken?

  • PPE training
  • The lab was provided with a calcium gluconate eye rinse solution
  • Review SOP for procedures involving hydrofluoric acid
  • Review emergency procedures and locate eyewash stations and emergency showers in the lab

How Can Incidents Like This Be Prevented?

  • Wear appropriate PPE when working with hydrofluoric acid including tightly fitting safety goggles and face shield; arm length natural rubber or heavy duty nitrile secondary gloves are highly recommended



When hydrofluoric acid splashes into your eyes:

  1. Immediately flush eyes at the nearest eyewash station for at least 30 minutes
  2. Rinse with calcium gluconate
  3. Place an ice pack on eyes until receiving medical attention
  4. Report the incident to your supervisor


Hydrofluoric acid 

Very hazardous to skin (corrosive, irritant, permeates, causes burns), eyes (corrosive), irritant when inhaled or ingested