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Details of Hydrofluoric Acid

        Hydrogen fluoride goes by many different names. Some of the names include fluoric acid, hydrofluoric acid, and hydrofluoride and fluorine monohydride. Regardless of the name, the formula is HF and it is the principle source of fluorine in industrial use. In gaseous form, it is lighter than air but when mixed with water becomes extremely corrosive.

        If you have a minor exposure to the vapor of hydrogen fluoride and can't tell it from the smell, you aren't in very much danger. Those that come into physical contact with the clothing or skin contaminated with the substance have a potential for harm. It penetrates the skin and goes into the deep tissue where the effects don't show up immediately.

        You receive burns from the hydrofluoric acid once the hydrogen fluoride dissolves in water. Even though you might only have a small area affected, it isn't indicative of the damage it causes to the body. No one can predict the amount of systemic damage caused by the size of the burn.

        Hydrogen fluoride is actually a colorless gas. It ceases to exist when mixed with water when it becomes hydrofluoric acid. There are many industries which use hydrogen fluoride. It is part of the production of herbicides, pharmaceuticals, high-octane gasoline, aluminum, fluorescent light bulbs, refrigerants like Freon and plastics, particularly Teflon. However, its primary use is for refrigerants. You also use it for etching glass and metal. It does have a strong odor when there is a heavy concentration of the gas in the air, so there is adequate warning if there is potential toxicity to humans.

Side Effects
        Inhaling concentrated quantities of hydrogen fluoride causes throat irritation and irritation of the lungs and nasal passages. Since children have larger lung surface area compared to their body mass, they might receive a more toxic dose. When esophageal irritation occurs in children, they have a smaller diameter airway opening to cause even more distress. If contact is through the skin via the water solution of hydrofluoric acid, it causes systemic toxicity and local destruction of the cells. The gas is also irritating to the skin and eyes. Any hydrofluoric acid ingested has the potential to be fatal. Children are more susceptible because of their smaller body mass.