Hydrofluoric Acid Burn from Trifluoracetic Acid

A laboratory worker picked up a container of trifluoroacetic acid with her ungloved hand to move it. She did not notice that there was a small amount of residue on the glass. Several hours later, she experienced pain in the palm of her hand and the inside aspect of her thumb. The result was a serious burn that required skin grafting. She was not aware that this type of burn could result from handling trifluoracetic acid.
Trifluoracetic acid can form hydrofluoric acid upon contact with moisture. Hydrofluoric acid can cause deep burns that may not be painful for hours.
  • Know the hazards of the chemicals involved before handling them.

  • Always assume containers are contaminated and wear appropriate gloves when handling chemical containers.

  • Keep a hydrofluoric acid burn kit in the laboratory when working with hydrofluoric acid or trifluoracetic acid.

Fatal Unintentional Occupational Poisonings by Hydrofluroic Acid in the US, American Journal of Industrial Medicine 40: 215-220 (2001)

Monash University, Hazard Alert:  Recent Hydrofluoric Acid Fatality in Perth