Inorganic Acids-May 2012

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

May 2012

IN THIS ISSUE: Inorganic Acids

Inorganic acids present safety hazards due to their immediate, corrosive effects. These acids are used in the chemical industry as catalysts in chemical reactions and in general industry in metal and woodworking, textile, dye-stuff, petroleum and photography. They are used as cleaning agents before welding, plating or painting, and in electroplating.

In small concentrations, acids can irritate the respiratory tract and mucous membranes, eyes, and skin. In high concentrations, inorganic acids will destroy body tissue and cause chemical burns. Accidental ingestion of concentrated inorganic acids results in severe irritation of the throat and stomach, and destruction of the tissue of internal organs. Inorganic acids, such as Nitric, Sulfuric, and Hydrochloric, are non-carbon-containing compounds of hydrogen and one or more element that produce hydrogen ions when dissolved in water or other solvents.

Controlling Exposure to Inorganic Acids

The best protection against exposure to inorganic acids is to avoid direct contact. If a less toxic chemical cannot be substituted, then follow appropriate control measures.

  • Enclose Chemical Processes. Liquids should be pumped through sealed systems to prevent contact. Decanting should be done by siphons, drum or carboy tilting cradles, or transfer pumps.
  • Ventilate. Exhaust ventilation is needed wherever mists may be present, such as from electroplating or a heated tank, and the use of respiratory protection may be needed or available for use in a spill or emergency.
  • Store and Label. Inorganic acids should be stored in designated areas, away from incompatible chemicals.
  • Use Personal Protective Equipment. Persons exposed to inorganic acids should wear acid-resistant personal protective equipment, including hand and arm protection, eye and face protection and aprons, overalls or coats, and acid resistant boots.
  • Provide Training. Employees should be taught to handle and store inorganic acids properly, and well as how to respond to releases and other emergencies safely.

Working with all acids in general industry can be dangerous. With thorough analysis of hazards, detailed procedures, emergency planning, and training, hazards can be effectively controlled.  For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or (303) 219-6973 or visit us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate andcontrol hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety andhealth. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

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