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Calcium Gluconate Topical Gel, also known as H-F (Hydrofluoric Acid) Antidote Gel, is used in the treatment of skin burns caused by Hydrofluoric Acid.
All HF burns require a full medical evaluation, whether treated with gel or not.
Calcium Gluconate Gel works by combining with Hydrofluoric Acid to neutralize the powerful fluoride ion. The immediate application of this antidote gel to the burn site reduces burn damage to bone and deep tissue.
The major action of Calcium Gluconate Gel, is to provide excess or substitute calcium stores by combining with HF to generate insoluble calcium fluoride, thus preventing the extraction of calcium from bones and tissues from the resulting burns. Removal of calcium from blood and tissue by fluoride ion attack results in a serious, frequently life-threatening condition known as hypocalcemia.
Keep Calcium Gluconate Gel nearby whenever you’re working with Hydrofluoric Acid. Either vinyl or nitrile medical gloves should be worn when applying Calcium Gluconate Gel.
First Aid Treatment of Hydrofluoric Acid Burns
It has been conclusively shown that flushing the affected area with water for one minute and then massaging HF antidote gel into the wound until there is a cessation of pain is the most effective first aid treatment available. HF antidote gel contains calcium gluconate which combines with HF to form insoluble Calcium Fluoride, thus preventing the extraction of Calcium from the body tissue and bones. HF antidote gel is available in 500g tub, and since the effects of the dilute acid may not be apparent for some hours, we recommend that any person in contact with HF should carry , or have access to a tube of HF antidote gel at all times; ideally with one tube at the workplace, one on the person and one at home. For safety’s sake, we believe that HF antidote gel should be issued to all employees who may come into contact with HF.
An alternative first aid procedure: Hydrofluoric acid is a highly corrosive and toxic acid , even in a dilute form. It can severely damage the skin and eyes causing severe burns which are extremely painful. Additionally, the vapor from anhydrous HF or its concentrated solutions can cause damage to skin, eyes, and the respiratory system. HF differs from other strong acids in that it not only causes surface burns but rapidly penetrates the skin, even in dilute solution, and causes destruction of underlying tissue and even bone by the extraction of calcium. For this reason, washing the burn with water is not sufficient. a neutralizing agent which will also penetrate the skin is required. The effect of HF, i.e., onset of pain, particularly in dilute solutions, may not be felt for up to 24 hours. It is important, therefore, that persons using HF have immediate access to an effective antidote even when they are away from their work place in order that first aid treatment can be commenced immediately while the patient seeks medical advice.
Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) is an extremely corrosive acid used for many purposes including mineral digestion, surface cleaning, etching, and biological staining. HF’s unique properties make it significantly more hazardous than many of the other acids used. Skin Exposure HF readily penetrates human skin, allowing it to destroy soft tissues and decalcify bone. Chemical burns from HF are typically very painful and slow to heal. Skin exposure to high concentrated HF (approximately 50% or greater) immediately results in serious and painful destruction of tissue. Not only can skin contact cause burns, but systemic fluoride poisoning may also result.
One of HF’s most insidious properties is that skin contact at lower concentrations may not produce pain or burning sensations until hours after the exposure. Because of the ability of HF to produce delayed serious tissue damage without necessarily producing pain, all skin, eye, or tissue contact with HF should receive immediate first aid and medical evaluation even if the injury appears minor or no pain is felt.
Hydrofluoric acid is corrosive. It can cause severe burns to the skin and eyes. If it comes into contact with skin, you may not feel pain at once. Hydrofluoric acid is also highly irritating to the respiratory system and very toxic if swallowed.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) apply.A COSHH assessment should be completed. Consider the use of safer alternatives. If there are no suitable alternatives, the assessment should detail appropriate precautions to be taken when using hydrofluoric acid,which include using a safe system of work.Employers should ensure that employees are given adequate information and training on the hazards to health posed by hydrofluoric acid, and the precautions to take to avoid them.
Urgent action is required. Obtain immediate medical attention.
When giving first aid, protect yourself and the casualty from further exposure.
Casualties should be sent to hospital as soon as possible (see opposite). In all cases, the hospital should be informed of the cause of injury.
First aid training
It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure there is an adequate number of employees on site, trained in appropriate first aid procedures. Additional training in first aid procedures to be used for casualties with hydrofluoric acid poisoning is recommended.This can be undertaken as an extension to basic training in first aid at work or as a separate course,and does not need the approval of HSE.The standard certificate may be endorsed to verify that special hazard training has been received.