First Aid For Aluminum Brightener Burns
Almost all Aluminum Brightener contain a percentage of Hydrofluoric Acid. (CAS 7664-39-3). This acid is ranked as the compounds most hazardous to human health in any highly concentrated form. The danger of an Aluminum Brightener burn if not rinsed or flushed is that it can rapidly penetrate the layers of skin, making flushing with water alone ineffective in the case of any unwarranted delay. ALWAYS drop what you are doing & FLUSH any Aluminum Brightener that comes in contact with the skin & discard contaminated clothing.
Most effective Aluminum brighteners will contain somewhere around 10% Hydrofluoric Acid . If the exposure is minimal and the application of large volumes of water is immediate, the victim maybe placed under observation to see if burns do develop. Unless the flushing has been immediate following a any serious exposure, the emergency room should always be the next option. It is even a good idea to have the local Poison Control Center informed by phone in order for them to offer their expertise to the treating physician. In all cases, be sure the appropriate MSDS accompanies the victim to the hospital.
The fluoride ions in the Hydrofluoric Acid are the culprits in Aluminum brightener burns. They are hungry for electrons and try to bind with calcium in the body. As the body becomes deprived of calcium, nerve damage follows and cell membranes are destroyed. The time factor involved will be proportional to the strength of the acid. Burns can in some cases be delayed for several hours. The pain will be described as deep burning or throbbing, often with very little noticeable skin damage. Again, we are describing contact here with STRAIGHT Aluminum Brightener, not the product after dilution.
The standard First Aid for any acid burn is to immediately flush with large amounts of water. The minimum recommended duration is five minutes. All clothing should then be removed while in the shower. If a 2.5% calcium gluconate gel is available or .13% benzalkonium chloride is available, rinsing may be kept to five minutes as indicated by the victim’s response. In the absence of these solutions, flushing should continue until medical help is available. If the gels do not relieve the pain, injections of 5% calcium gluconate by a physician may be needed. The 2.5% Calcium Gluconate solution is the preferred method of treatment. The product can be mixed by any local pharmacist.
Safety sessions should be conducted regularly for any persons exposed to Aluminum Brightener containing Hydrofluoric Acid. These sessions should cover safe handling, protective gear, ventilation, drum movement, spills and emergency response to burns. Appropriate supplies should be on hand and local hospitals should be involved in networking before the fact, with proper protocols and procedures being established in detail.
Aluminum Brightener is used around the United States with remarkably few cases of serious burns. Its safe use is predicated on common sense, safety training and preparation. These will insure many years of accident free use.