Introduction to Hydrogen Fluoride (HF)
Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) is a colorless gas with a strong, irritating odor. Hydrogen Fluoride is the principal industrial source of fluorine and is primarily used as an industrial raw material. It is used to make refrigerants, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, high-octane gasoline, plastics, and fluorescent light bulbs. Unlike the other hydrogen halides, Hydrogen Fluoride is lighter than air and diffuses relatively quickly through porous substances.
Upon contact with moisture and tissue, Hydrogen Fluoride immediately converts to the highly corrosive and toxic hydrofluoric acid. However, it is still very toxic in its gaseous state. Personnel working with Hydrogen Fluoride can be exposed in numerous ways, primarily through gas container leaks. This release could occur at an industrial site or even at a retail location. It is essential for facilities that work with this toxic gas to monitor for hazardous levels at all times.
When present in high concentrations, Hydrogen Fluoride may produce these symptoms:
- Eye, nose, respiratory irritation
- Visual defects, blindness
- Lung disease
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pulmonary edema (excess fluid in lung tissue)
When researching HF gas detection solutions, facility managers should be aware of the following HF exposure limits:
|3 ppm TWA||OSHA PEL (General Industry)|
|3 ppm TWA||OSHA PEL (Construction Industry)|
|3 ppm TWA||OSHA PEL (Maritime)|
|3 ppm ceiling||ACGIH TLV|
|3 ppm TWA, 6 ppm ceiling||NIOSH REL|
|30 ppm||NIOSH IDLH|