Cincinnati Catastrophic Injury Lawyer review: Hydrochloric Acid Exposure Leads to Workplace Injuries

Hydrochloric acid is a common industrial acid formed when hydrogen chloride dissolves in water. Both hydrogen chloride and hydrochloric acid are corrosive and may cause burns, vision loss, respiratory conditions and other injuries with inhalation or skin contact.

Hydrochloric acid is used in the production of a number of products including tin and steel, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, plastics and rubber, batteries, textiles and cleaning products. Injuries involving workplace exposure are quite common, even if they are preventable with proper safety standards.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio Toxic Tort Attorney, representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims. 

Industrial Uses for Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric acid is commonly used in the following applications:

  • Production of batteries
  • Photoflash bulbs production
  • Producing fireworks
  • Steel pickling—rust removal
  • Oil well acidizing
  • Electroplating
  • Cleaning boilers
  • Manufacturing of fertilizers
  • Manufacturing of dyes
  • Producing film
  • Textile production
  • Rubber industry applications
  • Producing PVC
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Producing water treatment chemicals
  • Leather tanning and processing
  • Salt purification
  • Household cleaners
  • Building construction
  • Producing gelatin products

Health Hazards of Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric acid is very corrosive on contact. If skin is exposed and direct contact is made with the liquid form of the acid, it can cause severe damage to the skin, digestive system and eyes.

Sores may develop in the respiratory tract with inhalation, and may cause a fluid build-up in the lungs. Patients who breathe in high concentrations may develop permanent lung injury.

Limited exposure is not likely to cause delayed or long term health effects. However, acute inhalation exposure may cause coughing, hoarseness, inflammation and ulceration of the respiratory tract, chest pain, and pulmonary edema. Acute oral exposure may corrode mucous membranes, the esophagus and stomach.

Chronic occupational exposure to hydrochloric acid has been reported to cause gastritis, chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, and photosensitization in workers.  Prolonged exposure to low concentrations may cause the discoloration and erosion of teeth.

Symptoms of Hydrochloric Acid Exposure

Any worker exposed to toxins like hydrochloric acid should seek medical attention. Depending on the severity of exposure, a patient may need prolonged treatment. The poisoning treatment depends upon levels of the chemical exposed to, and the type of exposure—liquid contact, ingesting or inhalation.

Swallowing poison can have severe effects on different parts of the body. Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, and stomach are likely. Perforations in the esophagus and stomach may result and surgery may be necessary. Cancer of the esophagus is a potential risk in workers after ingesting hydrochloric acid. Skin or eye contact may lead to blisters, burns, and vision loss.

Symptoms from ingesting or inhaling hydrochloric acid can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Inflammation of throat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Throat pain
  • Vomiting
  • Bluish color to lips
  • Chest tightness
  • Choking
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Fatigue

Hydrochloric Acid Exposure Prevention

Employers have a responsibility to protect workers and warn them of the health hazards associated with toxins like hydrochloric acid. At every step of the way, hydrochloric acid should be used with care. The acid itself is corrosive, and concentrated forms which release a mist are very dangerous.

Contact with the skin, eyes, or internal organs can cause irreversible damage. Therefore, it is essential for companies to provide personal protective equipment to workers. It is recommended that workers wear the following when using hydrochloric acid of any concentration:

  • Vapor respirator
  • Rubber gloves
  • Boots
  • Full suit
  • Face shield

It is highly recommended to have access to an eye-flush station in case of hydrochloric acid exposure. Employers should review all Hydrochloric Acid MSDS information during workplace training. Workers should follow the label directions and safety instructions closely.

Other toxic chemicals commonly used in heavy industries include:

Safety is of utmost importance when handling dangerous chemicals at the workplace. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates hydrochloric acid as a toxic substance. If any employer fails to protect their workers and an injury results, the company may be negligent and liable for the damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured after workplace exposure to Hydrochloric Acid and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.