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Thread: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

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    Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I thought I was taking every precaution when adding acid to my pool.

    Safety Googles
    Charcoal Respirator
    Nitrile Gloves
    Hose to wash off acid splash
    Bucket to contain acid if leaked

    Last night, at about 9pm, I opened the 14.5% acid in a bucket. It had the seal on the opening. The seal didn't want to come off. I had to lean over the acid so I could get some leverage. I got the seal off, and within 15 seconds my eyes were burning. I didn't smell anything, because I had a charcoal respirator. I thought it would be something temporary, and I added the acid to the pool. Then I realized the stinging wasn't getting any better. I looked online, and various agencies said to flush for 15 minutes, which I did. The stinging persisted. My eyes are bloodshot and stinging this morning.

    Now I am off to see an ophthalmologist.

    Lessons:

    Make sure there is some wind behind you, or use a fan.

    Use a tool, such as pliers to get the seal off, rather than leaning over it.

    I can't even imagine what would happen if this splashed in your eyes, or you got a lung full of it. Make sure you have the safety equipment. There is no turning back once this acid gets to your body.

    I am going to get a full face respirator. Regular safety googles aren't enough. Going without isn't worth it.
    Michael

    20,000 gallon in-ground gunite/plaster pool (1992), attached spa with spillway, Pentair Superflo 1.5 HP pump, Smith booster pump for pool sweep, Pentair 2000 DE filter, Sta Rite Max-E-Therm 400 heater, Silencer Blower 2 HP for spa, Polaris 280 pool sweep.

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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    Oh Michael!! PLEASE tell us when you get back how your are.

    I HATE the MA. I try to make sure the wind is blowing away from me when I have to add it.

    You know what??? I am adding a full face respirator to my shopping list! Scary stuff!

    HUGS and hopes all is well.

    Kim
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    How big of a bucket? Were you inside or out?

    I use 4L (~1 gallon) jugs with small twist off caps and I don't take any precautions other than to *slowly* pour it into the return while holding my breath.
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I hate that stuff. Normally I pay the extra for dry acid just so I dont have to deal with MA but MA works so much better and faster. I agree, make sure there is a nice stiff breeze Away from you! I dont wear a respirator or goggles but I do have acid resistant long gloves that go up to my elbows! I do wear safety glasses just to shield from a possible splash but should probably get some proper goggles.
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    This is why I use pucks in the skimmer or just pay for the dry acid to lower ph. It works for my pool.
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I'm so sorry to hear about that, especially since you were using safety goggles. You can also use half-strength Muriatic Acid which fumes substantially less. The trick is to get it for half the price of full-strength since some places try and sell it for the same price in a different section of the store. Safety goggles are still important even for half-strength since it's not just about fumes but about splashing.
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    I'm so sorry to hear about that, especially since you were using safety goggles. You can also use half-strength Muriatic Acid which fumes substantially less. The trick is to get it for half the price of full-strength since some places try and sell it for the same price in a different section of the store. Safety goggles are still important even for half-strength since it's not just about fumes but about splashing.
    He said it was the 14.5% stuff. Dangerous stuff either way. Have to be super careful with that stuff.


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    Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I live in a fairly dry climate so fuming is not as bad. I know when the humidity is high because as soon as I crack the bottle I can see water vapors emanating from the bottle as the atmospheric humidity hits the concentrated acid.

    But one thing you must remember is to NEVER let water get into the acid. This is why I suggest NOT spraying areas or bottles down with water or placing the jug in the pool. If the jug were to slip from your hand and fall in the water, the resulting confined water-acid mixture could boil. A single drop of water into concentrated HCl will instantly vaporize into a mixture of water and acid vapor due to the very high heat of hydration associated with HCl. The resulting acid/water vapor fumes can be very corrosive.

    Did you happen to get any water droplets into the bottle?


    Matt
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    Just a note about respirators. You are supposed to be medically cleared/approved to use one by a MD, and fit tested with the same mask you intend on using. Not doing this could potentially lead to serious problems just FYI.

    I am very sorry to hear of this Micheal, and perhaps you are on the extreme sensitivity end of exposure, so you may need the extra protection. If you do, I highly suggest getting cleared, and approved for the mask you'll be using.

    I've been exposed to the full strength vapors many times, and never experienced the eye irritation you mention. Wearing PPE is always advisable when handling any Chemicals, I'll agree, but this is is exceedingly rare I think. Yes the vapors are strong, so you should always be cautious of them. You can avoid this by not pouring the Acid into a bucket as well. Simply sit the jug in the pool over a return, and submerge it to where the open top is near the water surface. Then tip the jug very slowly, and pour it very slowly into the pool. This will virtually eliminate any chance of vapor exposure.

    A couple of points to clarify. Use caution when adding acid in any way. The forum has suggested using the jug dip method since its inception, and to my knowledge, there hasn't been a problem with it before. Any method of addition poses potential hazards, and many prefer this method to avoid the fumes. Personally, I do not, but take proper precautions to measure my additions, and make certain I avoid fume exposure as much as possible. Whatever you decide, wear proper, and properly fitting PPE (Perosnal Protective Equipment) when handling ANY potentially harmful Chemical at home or at the workplace.
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    I live in a fairly dry climate so fuming is not as bad. I know when the humidity is high because as soon as I crack the bottle I can see water vapors emanating from the bottle as the atmospheric humidity hits the concentrated acid.

    But one thing you must remember is to NEVER let water get into the acid. This is why I suggest NOT spraying areas or bottles down with water or placing the jug in the pool. If the jug were to slip from your hand and fall in the water, the resulting confined water-acid mixture could boil. A single drop of water into concentrated HCl will instantly vaporize into a mixture of water and acid vapor due to the very high heat of hydration associated with HCl. The resulting acid/water vapor fumes can be very corrosive.

    Did you happen to get any water droplets into the bottle?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I do not think the OP indicated this, but I would say if you did let the jug slip from your hand and into the pool, simply walk away.
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick_B View Post
    I do not think the OP indicated this, but I would say if you did let the jug slip from your hand and into the pool, simply walk away.
    And go buy a bunch of borax.


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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    A very important topic indeed. I do hope that you are OK. Sorry this happened!
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I appreciate all the well wishes and tips. I just got back from the doctor. He said the acid vapors damaged the outer layer of cells of my eyes, but they should heal in about week. His words were, "You dodged a bullet."

    Just for clarification, I put the acid jug in an empty bucket just to protect the pool deck should some acid get out of the jug. I didn't mix the acid with water in the bucket. I brought the bucket over the pool water, and lifted the acid out, and poured it in front of a return at a short distance to the water to prevent splashing. The rest of the operation was uneventful.

    I did this at night with no wind, so apparently, the acid vapors went straight up into my eyes. Even with wind, there can be vortexes, swirl, or change of direction, so it is no guarantee.

    I told my doctor that if this is what happens just from vapors, I wouldn't want to even think of what would happen if the acid splashed in my eyes (I had goggles on for that reason). He said he had a patient that that happened to, and his eyes were so damaged, they had to sew both eyelids shut. Through one eyelid, they put a telescope style lens that he can see through just well enough to get around. He can't see at all out of the other eye.

    Everyone can decide for themselves how safe they want to be, but if one exposure to acid can permanently blind me, I am not touching this stuff again without a full face respirator. The 3M 6000 series ones are under $200 including 6003 organic/acid cartridges. Cheap insurance in my book. I need to be able to see.
    Michael

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    Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    That's the full face respirator and cartridges I use at work sometimes. We use heated pure hcl vapor in one process, and pure chlorine in liquid and vapor form in another process. If you have any work to do on those lines, that's when you grab the full face. The hcl is bad, but the chlorine if infinitely worse.

    A guy on my shift got 20% sodium hydroxide sprayed in his eyes with enough force to blow his safety glasses off about three years ago. It has a ph of 14, and can be even more damaging than acid because bases actually penetrate the eye vs just damaging the surface. Luckily he was taken to an eye wash station immediately, then taken to the infirmary where a foreman put in a set of Morgan lenses. They are like a hard contact with an irrigation line attached that you run a saline IV through. He made a full recovery after a few weeks, and the doctor said he could very possibly be blind now if not for the Morgan lenses.


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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    Quote Originally Posted by n240sxguy View Post
    That's the full face respirator and cartridges I use at work sometimes. We use heated pure hcl vapor in one process, and pure chlorine in liquid and vapor form in another process. If you have any work to do on those lines, that's when you grab the full face. The hcl is bad, but the chlorine if infinitely worse.

    A guy on my shift got 20% sodium hydroxide sprayed in his eyes with enough force to blow his safety glasses off about three years ago. It has a ph of 14, and can be even more damaging than acid because bases actually penetrate the eye vs just damaging the surface. Luckily he was taken to an eye wash station immediately, then taken to the infirmary where a foreman put in a set of Morgan lenses. They are like a hard contact with an irrigation line attached that you run a saline IV through. He made a full recovery after a few weeks, and the doctor said he could very possibly be blind now if not for the Morgan lenses.


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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I'm on the ERT at my plant. My main role is the fire truck. Also hazmat technician certified. We do rescue, first aid, and fire training over the summer months. Fun stuff.


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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I wonder if in this case having the charcoal respirator made this situation worse in that you didn't smell the acid wafting towards your face. I know that if I'm positioned wrong and I smell it, I pull away quickly. Of course, that's no guarantee because the fumes could go more towards the eyes, but the nose is pretty close. I've often thought about how much more dangerous this acid would be if it wasn't so noxious/irritating to the nose.

    This would also mean that someone without a sense of smell would be at particularly high risk and need full face protection for their eyes as well as respiratory because they'd have no warning before damage was done.

    Well, we have a conundrum here because I don't know if everyone using acid is going to use a full face mask, but to be responsible we should note about the danger to the eyes. It's particularly scary how this was the half-strength acid that presumably fumes a lot less than full-strength. It's too bad that there isn't some sort of bottle top that was safer like a tube you could stick into the water, uncap or squeeze, then pour a measured amount from the bottle. I know that there are jigger measurements for pouring drinks so wonder if something like that would work, but underwater.

    Ben Powell at The PoolForum in this post notes that "Pouring acid from one container to another will release a LOT of noxious fumes!"
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    Note that Ben said if there was any splatter (and I would assume this goes for any sign of eye burning), to immediately jump into the pool away from where you added acid and open your eyes to flush them while swimming away from the acid.

    I have been involved in threads here at TFP where people say they measure their MA. That makes me crazy. I always strongly caution them against doing this. I hope they all read this thread.

    Thank goodness you will be okay.

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    Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I would like to add my two cent opinion if I may and others can certainly disagree - I think the combination of the charcoal respirator and goggles were a bad idea and contributed to the problem. Here's my theory -

    1. As chem geek stated, the charcoal respirator reduced the ability of the OP to smell the fumes. Typically speaking, odor thresholds on a lot of dangerous chemicals are extremely low (the nose can detect part per billion changes in some instances). Therefore the human reflex response to pull away from a noxious odor, as well as blink and protect your eyes (they are all linked), was severely degraded.

    2. Possibly, and I don't know the type used, but possibly the goggle type allowed for the collection and retention of acid/water vapor fumes. There are all different kinds of goggles for eye protection and the choice depends a lot on the chemical you are working with and the environment in which you are working. Therefore, if the wrong eye protection was chosen, the fumes could easily accumulate and cause the eye irritation reported.

    I'm not just pulling this out of thin air. I worked in and around some of the most dangerous chemicals in a R&D laboratory environment for the better part of 10 years. I have had extensive OSHA-based chemical hygiene & safety training. The proper choice of PPEs is very variable and depends on the working environment and chemicals involved. In this case, I truly think the OP would have been much better off WITHOUT the respirator as the human recoil reflex is very protective by nature (in some cases, a 250ms nervous transmission and blink response paired with ppb odor threshold detection is quite effective). Modern PPEs can eliminate that natural response mechanisms humans have but only do so because we often ask humans to work in confined and unnatural environments when handling chemicals. Being poolside in the outdoor air does not meet a lot of criteria that would necessitate the use of advanced PPEs. Being able to smell acid vapors at very low odor thresholds, no matter how offensive it is, and being able to recoil from them is one of the best protective measures we have.

    Again, just my 2 cent opinion.

    [EDIT]

    I'd also like to add that I am not blaming the OP. I am sad that you got hurt and I hope you recover with no lingering effects.

    My concern is mainly that we need to be careful and not rush to any rash conclusions here. Choosing the correct PPEs to wear is not simplistic and requires, in some cases, training for proper use. I worry that too many folks will read a thread like this, go out and buy all sorts of PPEs that are not suited for the tasks at hand and then put themselves at even greater risk of injury.

    [END EDIT]


    Matt
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    Re: Adding Acid - DON'T DO WHAT I DID! - Now I Am Off to the Doctor

    I also learned a lesson the hard way. I had a drop splatter in my eye and ended up in the ER. Thanks God no permanent damage.
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