SAFETY--Storage, transportation, handling, and disposal of Hydrochloric Acid

In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 405                            November 22, 1993


Subject:   SAFETY--Storage, transportation, handling, and disposal
           of Hydrochloric Acid

The purpose of this safety memorandum is to provide technical
guidance in the handling, storage, transportation, and disposal
of the chemical hydrochloric acid (HCL) as provided by applicable
Federal and State regulations.


Hydrochloric acid is a colorless liquid with a sharp and
extremely irritating odor.  Upon exposure to air, there is an
immediate release of toxic hydrogen chloride gas.  As a strong
corrosive acid, hydrochloric acid reacts with many metals
producing flammable hydrogen gas that can become an explosion


Acute Effects

   A.  Ingestion - Mucosal as well as severe esophageal corrosive
       injury.  Chemical burns of the mouth, pharynx and stomach
       can develop.  Injury may be severe and cause death.

       First Aid - Do not induce vomiting.  Dilute the acid
       immediately by drinking large quantities of water or milk.
       If vomiting persists, administer fluids repeatedly.
       Ingested acid must be diluted approximately 100 fold to
       render harmless to tissues.  Get medical attention
       immediately.  If vomiting occurs, keep head below hips to
       prevent aspiration.

   B.  Inhalation - Severe pulmonary edema and pneumonitis can
       result from inhalation of hydrogen chloride (hydrochloric
       acid) gas.  Pre-existing lung disease may be aggravated
       by exposure.  Ulcerations of nose, throat and larynx.

       First Aid - Remove from exposure area to fresh air
       immediately.  If breathing has stopped, give artificial
       respiration.  Administer oxygen, if available.  Keep
       affected person warm and at rest.  Get medical attention

   C.  Dermal - Ulcerations of skin.  Hydrochloric acid will
       probably not be absorbed through skin.

       First Aid - Remove contaminated clothing and shoes
       immediately.  Wash affected area with soap or mild
       detergent and large amounts of water until no evidence of
       the chemical remains.  Get medical attention immediately
       if chemical burn occurs.

   D.  Eyes - Hydrochloric acid induces chemical burns on contact
       with human eyes that can lead to irreversible corneal

       First Aid - Wash eyes immediately with large amounts of
       water, occasionally lifting upper and lower lids, until
       no evidence of the chemical remains (at least 15-20 mins.).
       Get medical attention immediately.

Chronic Effects

   A.  Carcinogenicity - none reported.

   B.  Mutagenicity - none reported.

   C.  Toxicity - Prolonged or repeated exposure may result in
       respiratory impairment and bronchitis.  Mucosal membranes
       severely damaged following repeated exposures.


Hydrochloric acid is a strong corrosive and care should be taken
to prevent contact with metals, amines, and alkalis which could
cause the release of flammable hydrogen gas and toxic or corrosive


The airborne permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hydrogen chloride
(hydrochloric acid) is 5 ppm in a 8 hour work day.  A concentration
of 100 ppm is considered to be immediately dangerous to life or
health (IDLH).


Because of the potential to release toxic vapors, hydrochloric acid
should never be opened, mixed, or transferred to other containers at
any time while inside a vehicle or in any other small enclosure without
a mechanism to vent all fumes to the outside.  A Materials Safety Data
Sheet (MSDS) should be in the possession of the user at all times and
made available to those working with this chemical.  The MSDS for
hydrochloric acid is to be in the laboratory and field files containing
all pertinent MSDS.  The MSDS files should be clearly labeled and
readily accessible to all personnel.


Hydrochloric acid should never be transported in other than a plastic
coated glass container, accurately labeled, and properly stored within
the vehicle to prevent shifting, spillage, or breakage.  Containers
of hydrochloric acid carried in vehicles in warm climates should be
placed in coolers to protect them from excessive heat.  Although
hydrochloric acid has a boiling point of 110 degrees C (230 degrees F)
it should be transported at room temperature to minimize a buildup of
gas pressure in the container.

Contingency Spills and Response

During operational use, transportation, and wherever an accidental
spill is likely to occur, each laboratory and field unit should have,
as part of their required emergency equipment, sufficient absorbent
materials, such as sodium bicarbonate, soda ash or lime, to handle
small spills.  Shovel chemical waste into a container and properly
label as "used hydrochloric acid."  Wash residue from spill are with
copious amounts of water.  Do not allow run-off to contaminate water
supplies or nearby creeks or rivers.  Do not attempt cleanup unless
wearing skin, eye, and respiratory protection.  Since hydrochloric
acid has a pH less than 1, discarded material is a hazardous waste
(Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazardous Waste No. D002,
40 CFR 261.22) including empty hydrochloric acid containers.  Waste
material should be stored in a safe area and clearly marked for special
disposal by a recycling contractor.  Record how much of the chemical
was spilled and the method of clean up and proper disposal, as required
by hazardous waste regulations.


Because hydrochloric acid is a strong corrosive, an acid-resistant
apron, gloves, and face shield or protective eyewear should be worn
at all times while pouring, mixing, or transferring this chemical.
Handling of hydrochloric acid must be in a well-ventilated area or
under a fume hood for approved acids.  Because of its nature to
induce severe chemical burns, an eyewash station and quick drench
shower should be made available within the work area.


Hydrochloric acid should be kept in a tightly closed container and
stored in chemical area that is compatible with other chemicals.
Store in a secure, well-ventilated area, that is well marked, and
away from the general work population.  Do not store near oxidizing


Spilled or used hydrochloric acid is considered a hazardous waste
and must be handled accordingly.  It must be properly labeled and
disposed of by a hazardous waste contractor.  Storage should be in
an assigned area that is away from general worker population, and
well-marked, well ventilated and not subject to heat cycles.  Records
must be maintained on the amounts of waste hydrochloric acid, the
storage time, and the contractor involved in hazardous waste recycling.

Used hydrochloric acid is considered a hazardous waste because of its
corrosive properties.  By diluting hydrochloric acid to 5 percent
volume to volume or less, and neutralizing it with NAHCO3 to a neutral
pH, the solution is no longer corrosive and can, in some jurisdictions,
be disposed of down the drain.  Before this is practiced as a means of
disposal, permission must be obtained from the local waste water treat-
ment facility and be in compliance with local and State environmental

                                     William B. Mann IV
                                     Assistant Chief Hydrologist
                                        for Operations


1.   Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1970 - Public Law
     91-596, Section 19.

2.   Executive Order 12196, Occupational Safety and Health Programs
     for Federal Employees.

                            REFERENCE REGULATIONS

1.   29 CFR 1910.1000 (OSHA) Toxic and Hazardous Substances.

2.   29 CFR 1910.1450 (OSHA) Occupational exposure to hazardous
     chemicals in laboratories.

3.   29 CFR 1910.1200 (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard

4.   40 CFR 260-272 (EPA) Resources Conservation and Recovery
     Act (RCRA) Regulations.

5.   40 CFR 355, 370 and 372.  (EPA) Comprehensive Environmental
     Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Superfund
     Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) Regulations.

6.   40 CFR 710 (EPA) Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

7.   49 CFR 172.101 (DOT) Table of Hazardous Materials and Special

This memorandum does not supersede any previous WRD Memorandum.

Distribution:  A,B,S,FO,PO

Key Words:  Chemical, Hazardous Materials, Safety Guidelines