At normal room temperature, hydrogen chloride is a non-flammable gas that is mostly colorless but has a slight yellow tinge and a strong, pungent odor. However, when it’s exposed to air, condensation with the moisture in the air cause the gas to form a dense white vapor that is extremely corrosive. Hydrogen Chloride can cause serious injuries, if you’ve been exposed and suffered injuries, contact the Hill Law Firm to discuss your legal options.
Commercially available hydrogen chloride can come in two forms; as an anhydrous gas or a water-based solution, such as hydrochloric acid, which contains 36 to 38 percent hydrogen chloride in water. Hydrogen chloride is most commonly used for cleaning or electroplating metals and cleaning and disinfecting swimming pools, but it is also used in leather tanning, the production of plastics and polymers, fertilizers and dyes, as well as oil well extraction.
Because of its corrosive properties, hydrogen chloride is extremely hazardous through almost any contact with live tissue. That means the potential for serious injury is always present, and proper handling is always required. High-level exposure to the eyes can result in damage to the cornea, cataracts, and glaucoma. Even exposure to heavily diluted solutions can result in lesions. Hydrogen chloride can also cause skin and mucous membranes to burn to the point of serious scarring.
Breathing in hydrogen chloride gas is also extremely hazardous, causing major irritation to mucous membranes, especially those in the upper respiratory tract. Moderate exposures can result in shortness of breath, cause the skin to turn blue, and cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs. Exposure can also lead to reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, which is a type of asthma that is caused by the inhalation of corrosive chemicals.
In some extreme cases, exposures can often lead to swelling in the throat and upper respiratory system and may cause the throat to spasm and could lead to suffocation. If highly concentrated hydrogen chloride gas gets into the lungs, it can mix with the water there to produce hydrochloric acid, which can result in pulmonary edema and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), both of which can lead to death.
Exposure levels for hydrogen chloride gas in the workplace are heavily regulated by OSHA, and all employers are required to provide proper labeling and safety information, as well as proper training for all workers who handle the chemical. All workers who handle hydrogen chloride should be equipped with proper gloves and goggles made of materials approved for such work. If there is a potential to be exposed to more than 2 ppm of hydrogen chloride, the worker should also be equipped with a NIOSH-approved full-face respirator with a gas cartridge approved for hydrogen chloride.
Exposure to hydrogen chloride is extremely hazardous to health, and the health effects can last a lifetime. Accidents do happen, but often, accidents are the result of a failure on the part of an employer to protect its workers. If you are exposed to hydrogen chloride and suffer hydrogen chloride injuries, get medical attention immediately. Then, be sure to contact the experienced San Antonio injury attorneys of Hill Law Firm. They are experienced in taking on some of the largest companies in the world and can protect your rights.