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Hexafluorine vs. standard decontamination to reduce systemic toxicity after dermal exposure to hydrofluoric acid.

INTRODUCTION: Dermal exposure to hydrofluoric acid (HF) may cause severe burns and systemic toxicity. Hexafluorine (Prevor, France) is a product marketed as an emergency decontamination fluid for HF skin and eye exposures. Documentation concerning Hexafluorine is scanty, and a recent study indicates that its ability to reduce HF burns is at most equal to that of water.

OBJECTIVE: The present study was conducted to evaluate Hexafluorine's capacity to reduce HF-induced systemic toxicity.

METHODS: Sprague Dawley rats were anesthetized, catheterized in the left femoral artery, and shaved on their back. A filter paper (3.5 x 6 cm) was soaked in 50% HF and applied on the back of each rat for 3 min. Thirty seconds after removal of the paper, a 3-min rinsing with either 500 mL Hexafluorine (group H), 500 mL water (group W), or 500 mL water followed by a single application of 2.5% calcium gluconate gel (group Ca) was carried out. Blood samples were analyzed for ionized calcium and potassium (before injury and 1, 2, 3, and 4 h after) and also for ionized fluoride (1, 2, and 4 h after injury).

RESULTS: The animals developed hypocalcemia, hyperkalemia, and hyperfluoridemia after the HF exposure. The only significant difference observed among the groups was in serum potassium at 1 h between group Ca and group W. However, there was a constant trend toward milder hypocalcemia and less pronounced hyperkalemia in group Ca compared to the other groups. There were no differences in the electrolyte disturbances between the Hexafluorine-treated animals and those treated with water only. Five of 39 animals died before completion of the experiment as a result of the HF exposure, one from group Ca and two from each of the other two groups.

CONCLUSION: In this experimental study, decontamination with Hexafluorine was not more effective than water rinsing in reducing electrolyte disturbances caused by dermal exposure to hydrofluoric acid.

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