Hydrofluoric acid, or HF acid, is an extremely corrosive chemical capable of causing fatal or permanently disabling injuries. While most people never come into contact with hydrofluoric acid, certain types of workers are at risk of exposure, such as oil, automotive, or sanitation workers. If a person breathes in, swallows, or touches hydrofluoric acid, the result can be a severe burn injury that threatens the worker’s life. If you or one of your family members was exposed to hydrofluoric acid in the workplace, the attorneys of the Reiff Law Firm can fight for justice from those responsible.
At the Reiff Law Firm, we are award-winning personal injury and wrongful death attorneys with more than 34 years of experience representing workers and their families throughout the Philadelphia region. With an outstanding track record of awards and case outcomes, we are aggressive litigators who dedicate ourselves fully to your acid exposure lawsuit. We will tirelessly seek compensation your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and other damages. For a free legal consultation with our Philadelphia HF acid injury lawyers, contact the Reiff Law Firm online, or call us today at (215) 246-9000. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you and your loved ones.
What is Hydrofluoric (HF) Acid and What is it Used For?
Hydrofluoric acid (HF acid) is a solution of water containing dissolved hydrogen fluoride. In terms of its physical characteristics, HF acid is clear and colorless, with a strong, acrid odor.
Hydrofluoric acid has many uses, primarily in industrial applications. For example, HF acid is commonly used in oil refining and industrial glass etching. However, lower concentrations of HF acid may also be found in home cleaning products. Most injuries caused by hydrofluoric acid involve workers who are exposed on the job.
HF acid is extremely dangerous to human health, meaning it must be prepared, stored, shipped, labeled, disposed of, and handled using the utmost degree of care. Hydrofluoric acid is recognized as a “highly hazardous chemical” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with similar designations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Who is at Risk for Hydrofluoric Acid Exposure?
Several common household products contain hydrofluoric acid, including various toilet bowl cleaners, tile cleaner products, and chemicals used to clean swimming pools. However, HF acid exposure injuries usually affect chemical workers who come into contact with stronger, industrial-grade products.
Unfortunately, hydrofluoric acid exposure has caused the death or serious injury of numerous workers, including a group of 13 employees who were hospitalized with HF acid injuries when a 2009 accident at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery (formerly owned by Sunoco) caused approximately 22 pounds of hydrofluoric acid to leak. The refinery, which is located in South Philadelphia, was also the site of several fires during June 2019. Another serious incident involving hydrofluoric acid occurred in Pennsylvania in 2009 when a tanker truck transporting HF acid overturned in Wind Gap, Northampton County, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. OSHA has also reported dozens of incidents involving hydrofluoric acid dating back at least as far as 1991, including the following:
- May 2000 – A chemical technician who “was mixing an automobile cleaning solution” died after inhaling HF acid vapors.
- Jun 2005 – A chemical technician “sustained chemical burns to her calves” while “working at a facility at which chemicals were repackaged.”
- January 2012 – A vehicle washer “received burns to the hands and arms while working with hydrofluoric acid,” resulting in hospitalization.
- April 2014 – A maintenance technician was “admitted [to the hospital] and treated for systemic chemical poisoning” after “acid sprayed under his face shield.”
Hydrofluoric Acid Burns and Lung Injuries
Hydrofluoric acid is often described as a “weak” acid due to its chemical structure. However, this term is misleading when it comes to the effects of hydrofluoric acid on the human body.
When a person is exposed to even a small amount of hydrofluoric acid – whether through inhalation, ingestion, or direct skin contact – the outcome can be fatal. HF acid can eat through clothing, skin, fat, muscle, and even bone, rapidly destroying tissue and causing devastating burns. Depending on the severity of the accident, effects of hydrofluoric acid exposure may include:
- Cardiac arrest (sudden loss of normal heart function)
- Chemical burns
- Decalcification of bone and acute hypocalcemia (abnormally low blood calcium levels)
- Loss of a limb, fingers, or toes
- Respiratory problems
- Throat irritation
- Tissue death
- Vision loss, in cases where the eyes are exposed
- Wrongful death
Philadelphia Injury Lawyers for Workers Exposed to HF Acid
HF acid exposure injuries can be permanently disfiguring or even fatal. If you, your spouse, or a family member was exposed to hydrofluoric acid at work, the injury lawyers of the Reiff Law Firm can determine who may be liable and pursue compensation aggressively. We are here to help you file a lawsuit against any person or company whose negligence contributed to your injuries. To discuss your family’s legal options confidentially in free consultation with an HF acid burn lawyer in Philadelphia, contact us online today, or call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000.