Hydrochloric acid safety precautions

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Hydrochloric acid safety precautions
Hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Hydrochloric acid -- or HCl -- is an acid that is highly corrosive when concentrated. Always handle it with care to prevent harm or injury. You need to take specific safety precautions when handling, transporting and storing HCl and get medical help immediately if accidental contact occurs.

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Handling

Wear a chemical-resistant apron, chemical-resistant gloves and chemical splash goggles at all times when handling HCl to protect your eyes and skin. Concentrated hydrochloric acid is toxic if inhaled, so avoid breathing it in and always handle it while under a fume hood.

Transporting

Use unbreakable bottle carriers or PVC-coated bottles when transporting HCl. Check for cracks on the acid bottle before picking it up or touching it. Look for spilt acid on the handle or on the table before touching the bottle. Small amounts of HCl can be flushed down the sink with large quantities of water.

Storage

Acids should be stored in a dedicated wood cabinet. Wood cabinets are better than metal cabinets for storing acids because metal corrodes easily from hydrochloric acid fumes. Always keep a colour-coded acid bottle cap on your bottle so that you know which bottle contains HCl.

In an Emergency

If you are exposed to a harmful acid such as HCl, immediately seek medical attention. If acid splashes on your skin, rinse it with water for 15 to 20 minutes. If acid gets into your eyes, immediately flush your eyes with water for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes. If acid soaks your clothing, immediately remove the clothing before it gets to the skin.

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