[Occupationally induced hydrofluoric acid burns: an analysis of 9 patients from the aspect of occupational health]

O Yamamoto, H Yasuda, K Izu, D Nishio, M Asahi
Journal of UOEH 2000 June 1, 22 (2): 167-75
We report here 9 patients suffering from hydrofluoric acid burn who visited our clinic from July, 1979 to February, 2000. These 9 cases occupied 25% of all chemical burn cases experienced in our clinic. All the patients were men ranging in age from 20 to 53 (mean age 35 years; average 36.8 years). At the time of accidental exposures, 6 patients had been engaged in washing or cleaning work, and 2 had been changing the parts of instruments containing hydrofluoric acid. Eight patients received burns on the hands and/or fingers. During the work, 2 patients had used vinyl chloride or rubber gloves, but three patients employed no protection for the hands. After the symptoms began to develop, it was found that the glove of one patient had a pin hole. Coupled with the occasions described in previous reports, the causal factors of hydrofluoric acid burn could be divided as follows: 1) negligence or carelessness of workers, in particular skilled persons, in handling hydrofluoric acid, 2) ignorance of the dangerousness of hydrofluoric acid, 3) the presence of pin hole (s) in protection gloves, and 4) unexpected accident. Hydrofluoric acid is one of the most corrosive inorganic acids, and can produce progressive and serious tissue necrosis with severe pain. To prevent burns due to this chemical, enlightenment and reeducation of the workers regarding the hazard of hydrofluoric acid are necessary.

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