Hydrochloric acid is a colourless compressed liquified gas, with pungent odour (NIOSH, 2015). It is used to regulate water pH in pools. This is only one of many applications the acid can be used for. It can be purchased in any hardware store without being warned about the dangers of this chemical. The acid is very corrosive and if the acid itself or its mist comes into contact with your eyes, skin or internal organs, it may cause irreversible damage that in some cases may even be fatal (VelocityEHS, 2017).
Often those owning a pool are unaware of the health hazards involving chemicals. There have been a number of incidents, where new pool owners were not informed of the correct use of certain chemicals and crucial steps and advice in the process of maintaining swimming pool conditions were simply withheld by retailers (Evo Heat, 2014).
A number of potential situations in which accidents may happen are when:
• Preparing and transferring hydrochloric acid to a smaller bucket to transfer it from its storage location to the pool – fumes and splashes.
• Accidentally mixing chlorine and hydrochloric acid (because you were not informed of adequate mixing techniques and procedures) – toxic fumes.
• Inadequate mixing of chemicals – fire and explosion.
It is therefore extremely important to wear adequate PPE, such as gloves and protective clothing at a minimum, when handling this chemical. Hydrochloric acid should further be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from sources of moisture and other incompatible materials (VelocityEHS, 2017).
If, despite following adequate safety precautions, the acid does splash onto your skin or gets into the eyes, it is important to immediately rinse the affected area with water for 15-20minutes and if severe, seek medical attention; remove contaminated clothing, before if comes in contact with your skin and causes burns (Acid Solutions, 2017).
These are just a few examples of safety precautions when using acid; labels and other instructions, such as those contained in Safety Data Sheets (available online or from the supplier) should always be considered.
Written by Jelena Price
Acid Solutions. (2017). Hydrochloric Acid. Retrieved from http://www.acidsolutions.com.au/
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2015). Hydrogen Chloride. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0163.html
VelocityEHS. (2017). Hydrochloric Acid Hazards & Safety Tips. Retrieved from https://www.msdsonline.com/blog/health-safety/2014/09/10/hydrochloric-acid-hazards-safety-tips