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Korean Journal of Preventive Medicine 1993;26(4): 587-598.
A study on occupational hydrofluoric acid burns in a hydrofluoric acid manufacturing factory.
Hyun Sul Lim, Hae Kwan Cheong, Ji Young Kim
Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Dongguk University, Korea.
Hydrofluoric acid is one of the strongest irritating, corrosive and poisonous inorganic chemicals. Hydrofluoric acid burns are occurring with ever-increasing frequency due to the wide use of this acid in industries. Hydrofluoric acid burns are characterized by severe progressive tissue destruction and excruciating pain due to the unique properties of the freely dissolvable fluoride ion. The authors reviewed medical records of 32 cases(36 spells) of hydrofluoric acid burns which occurred in a hydrofluoric acid manufacturing factory from Sep. 1, 1990 to June 30, 1993. The results are as follows; 1. Eleven measurements of air concentrations of hydrofluoric acid by detection tube method from 1990 to 1992 were all below TLV(Department of Labor, R. O. K). 2. There were 19 cases(22 spells) of hydrofluoric acid burns which occurred during the study period among regular employees. The overall incidence density of hydrofluoric acid was 17.8 cases(20.6 spells) per 100 person-year. Incidence density was 19.0 cases(22.0 spells) per 100 person-year among male workers and there were no female cases. Incidence density was 32.9 cases(38.3 spells) per 100 person-year among production workers and 1.9 cases(1.9 spells) per 100 person-years among management workers with the difference being statistically significant(P<0.01). 3. Of 32 cases(36 spells) of hydrofluoric acid burns among workers who were regularly employed or temporarily employed, 26 spells(81.2%) were between age 20 to 39. In 15 spells(41.7%) burns occurred between 12 : 00 and 17 : 59 with 16 spells(44.3%) having arrived at hospital within 2 hours after the accident. 4. Of 36 spells, the main cause of hydrofluoric acid burns were by splashes(8 spells, 22.2 %). The most frequent site of burns were fingers and pain was the most frequent symptom. Thirty spells(83.3%) of the hydrofluoric acid burns were treated with local injection of antidote(calcium gluconate). Complete recovery without scarring were observed in most of the cases(34 out of 36 cases, 94.4%). The study results suggest that to prevent hydrofluoric acid burns, environmental control and the wearing of hydrofluoric acid resistant protective clothes and gloves are important. It is also stressed that establishment of an emergency management and a transfer system for hydrofluoric acid burn victims is necessary.
Key words: hydrofluoric acid or hydrogen fluoride; hydrofluoric acid burn; chemical burn
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