HCL also known as Hydrochloric Acid is a popular chemical that has application across different industries. It is used in the production of chloride, dyes, and fertilizers. It is also used for electroplating and finds application in the textile and photography industry. 

HCL is a combination of Hydrogen and chlorine element as it is made from dissolving Hydrogen chloride in water. It is colorless but has a sharp and pungent odor. Hydrochloric Acid is a corrosive chemical which poses acute danger to human health. As such, it is important to be aware of necessary safety precautions that must be in place while handling the chemical. This post informs you about the health hazards associated with exposure to HCL and the necessary precautions.

HCL Effects On The Skin

Exposure of hydrochloric acid to the skin will result in erythema and skin irritation. It causes pain on the skin and also might result in dermatitis and ulceration of the skin. If it is a high concentration of HCL, it would result in serious burns and damage to the skin membranes. 

At high concentration, continued exposure to HCL will cause hypotension. This is as a result of internal bleeding that may have happened in the gastrointestinal tract. Hydrochloric Acid has not been classified as a carcinogenic substance. However, some research carried out on the effect of the chemical on rats have proved that they can be carcinogenic.

Precautions

You must be very careful while handling HCL. Preventing exposure to the skin must be a conscious and deliberate attempt. To avoid your skin to danger while handling HCL, you must make use of protective clothing. Impervious jackets will keep your body protected in case of spillage of chemicals.

Likewise, it is advisable to make use of gloves to protect the hand area. You should also make use of boots to keep your feets safe in case of chemical spillage. Wash your hand immediately after handling the chemical. In case of exposure to the chemical, wash your body thoroughly to avoid burn and inflammation.

Effects Upon Inhalation

Hydrochloric Acid has a sharp and pungent odor. As such, it can be an irritant to the nasal cavity. The chemical can find its way to the throat through inhalation and that can cause pains, cough, and inflammation in the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms or reactions such as sneezing, coughing, chest pain, laryngitis, and a feeling of suffocation might persist in this situation.

When the high concentration of Hydrochloric Acid is inhaled, it can result in a serious burn in the nose and throat. It can also cause constriction of Larynx and bronchi, nasal septal perforation, seedling of the throat, and suffocation. Pulmonary oedema and pneumonitis might also be noticed. This might not be effective for every individual as bodies might respond differently at different times.

Precautions

You must also take a proactive approach to keep your nose and nasal cavity safe from exposure to Hydrochloric acid. To do this, it is advisable to make use of respiratory or any well-contained breathing apparatus. You must ensure to avoid bringing chemicals to your nose for any reason. Do not open any container with label Hydrogen chloride or hydrochloric acid without having a respiratory mask.

Effects on Eyes

Hydrochloric Acid has an acute effect on the eyes as well. When exposed to the eye either deliberately or by spillage, it can result in eye irritation. It may also cause conjunctivitis, ulceration, and cornea damage. Exposure to high concentration of HCL may result in glaucoma, cornea necrosis, cataracts, or even blindness.

Precautions

To keep your eyes safe while handling HCL, you must make use of eye protection. It is advisable to use eye goggles which are secure enough to protect your eye. Likewise, you must avoid touching the eye area for any reason while handling the chemical. Do not pour water into the chemical to avoid splashing and endangering your face.

Effects Upon Ingestion

HCL is corrosive and dangerous upon ingestion. It is very poisonous, especially at higher concentration. If ingested, it will only cause injury to the lips but will also result in mucosa irritation, throat burn, esophagus injury, and stomach pain. Symptoms of ingestion of the chemical are not limited to nausea, vomiting, dysphagia, chills, and fever.

Ingestion of Hydrochloric Acid can also result in perforation of the gastrointestinal tract. It may cause internal bleeding which may consequently result in hypotension. The chemical is so poisonous at high concentration and might lead to death if ingested indiscriminately.

Precautions

You must be extra careful while handling Hydrochloric Acid. Avoid eating in the area where the chemical is being used or processed. Do not drink or smoke in such areas. Containers and other objects used while handling the chemical should be separated from household items like plates, cups, spoons, and forks. 

Effects of HCL Leakage 

Hydrochloric acid leakages can endanger the environment. If the chemical is not properly stored, it might leak and be exposed to the environment. Such an exposure can put people at risk of inhaling or ingesting the chemical. 

Flushing HCL down the drain can also endanger the environment. It can go down to the water body which might result in poisoning of aquatic bodies. It may also find its way to other water sources and cause poisoning of people. 

Storage Suggestions

HCL should be stored in line with the necessary safety precautions required to keep the user and the environment safe. The chemical must be kept in a tightly sealed container to avoid escaping into the atmosphere. It must also be kept in a dry place void of moisture. The chemical must be stored at room temperature as exposure to heat can cause rupture and explosion.