Check your hydrogen fluoride cylinders

Matheson issued a technical alert last month recommending that its customers check their hydrogen fluoride cylinders to make sure they got what they expected. It seems there may have been some ordering confusion involving cylinders that have 100 psig or 0.6 psig. As Matheson notes in the alert:

the delivery train requirements would be quite different as between the two variations of HF. The use of an incompatible delivery train can, in turn, lead to over-pressurizing the delivery train and/or exposure to HF liquid or vapor.

The cylinder confusion has led to at least one HF exposure incident, according to a source who was not authorized to speak for their institution. A researcher was unknowingly using a high-pressure tank with a set-up designed for low pressures. The person was working in a hood and wearing gloves and a lab coat when a tubing connection burst, and HF got to the researcher’s skin through a gap between the gloves and coat sleeve. The emergency response was “perfect” and the researcher is fine.

Matheson’s technical alert gives new unique item numbers for its various HF products. On a separate-but-related note, Matheson also recommends that HF in cylinders not be stored for longer than two years, because HF can react slowly with the iron in steel cylinders.

Coincidentally, HF made it onto prime time television last week courtesy of the series House. ChemBark critiques the episode at HF Stupidity on House, M.D. and has a video showing the relevant parts of the show, if you don’t want to watch the whole thing (“Nobody’s Fault”). I particularly liked the sideways bunsen burner flame.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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