The Chemical Safety Board says hydrofluoric acid hurts workers

On Behalf of | May 24, 2019 | Workplace Accidents |

In February of 2015, a catastrophic explosion rocked the Torrance Exxon Mobil Corporation refinery. The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has since investigated several similar explosions across the United States. One of the most recent ones occurred just over a year ago in Wisconsin. On April 23, the CSB requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study hydrofluoric acid more closely.

Hydrofluoric acid, which is sometimes also referred to as hydrogen fluoride, can exist in two forms. It can either be a fuming liquid or a colorless gas. It can be easily dissolved in water.

The CSB argues that it has the potential to maim or kill when it’s highly concentrated at 30 parts per million. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that a worker’s exposure to hydrogen fluoride can leave them with visual impairments, skin damage and lung disease.

CSB investigators have concluded that these recent explosions have likely released significant amounts of hydrofluoric acid into the environment. Residents in these communities have expressed concerns over how their risk of exposure is being monitored. They also sought out more information about the danger it poses for them.

In their letter to the EPA, CSB’s director noted that they’re hopeful that the federal agency will begin studying the dangers posed by hydrofluoric acid once again. They noted that little research into the matter has been done since 1993.

While the EPA had concluded that hydrogen fluoride posed a danger to the public back in 1993, they didn’t recommend taking any steps to manage it. At the time, EPA administrators concluded that there was already an infrastructure in place to minimize any risk of exposure.

CSB administrators have suggested that they doubt that this infrastructure is effective. Four workers were seriously injured during the Torrance explosion in 2015. Another 36 were hurt in the Wisconsin refinery explosion just last year. It’s unclear when the EPA is expected to issue a response to the CBS’s request for further investigation into the effects of hydrofluoric acid.

Each year, countless California workers are injured on the job. Some are hurt due to poorly maintained facilities or because they’re given inadequate safety equipment to perform their roles. Other workers become sick or are injured on the job because of environmental hazards such as exposure to tasteless or non-odorous gases, chemicals or mold. A workplace accidents attorney can help you.

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