First Aid Measures For Contact With Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric acid is a corrosive chemical which can harm you by inhalation (breathing its vapors), by ingestion (swallowing it), or by contact with the skin or eyes. Hydrochloric acid is a colorless or yellow liquid which has a sharp, pungent odor and gives off fumes.

A spill should be responded to by trained personnel following containment and clean up procedures. The primary goal is to protect people, then clear the area, and contain the spill. The proper personal protective equipment should be used and access to the area should be denied. All employees should have regular training in spill control as well as first aid measures to be taken in case of injury. 

Inhalation – Breathing

Prolonged exposure to the mist or vapor from concentrated solutions can cause ulcers and burns in the nose and throat. Breathing these fumes can cause coughing, choking and respiratory difficulty. Severe exposure for just a few minutes may result in a life threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and lead to respiratory collapse and death. These severe symptoms may not appear for several hours after exposure.

Swallowing – Ingestion

If swallowed, it can cause corrosive burns to mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach. It causes swallowing difficulty, intense thirst, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, collapse and death. If a small amount of acid enters the lung during ingestion or aspiration during vomiting, it can cause serious lung damage leading to death.


It irritates the eyes causes burns of the surface of the eye which may result in blindness. Very low concentrations of hydrochloric acid vapors or mist can be immediately irritating, causing redness of the eyes.


Hydrochloric Acid can cause severe irritation and burning of the skin which may result in blistering and permanent scars. Prolonged and repeated exposure to dilute solutions often causes irritation, redness, pain, drying and cracking of the skin.

First Aid Measures

Inhalation – Breathing 

If vapors, mists or sprays have been inhaled, remove the victim to fresh air.

Get medical help IMMEDIATELY! Symptoms of respiratory distress may not appear for up to 48 hours after exposure.

Do not give artificial respiration unless you are sure breathing has stopped.

Start CPR if there is no pulse or breathing but use a pocket mask with a one way valve or proper respiratory device, such as an Ambu bag.

DO NOT use mouth to mouth resuscitation if the victim swallowed or inhaled the acid.

Keep victim warm and quiet.

Swallowing- Ingestion

Call Poison Control and 911 immediately.


Get IMMEDIATE medical help.

The victim should rinse mouth well with large amounts of water and should try to drink at least 1 glass of water to dilute the swallowed acid.

If vomiting occurs, have the victim lean forward with head down to avoid breathing in or choking on vomited material.

If the victim is unconscious, can’t swallow, or is having seizures do not try to give any liquid or induce vomiting.

Eye Exposure

Immediately flush eyes with copious amounts of water.

Hold eyelids open to ensure complete irrigation of the eyes and eyelids.

Do not use any eye drops


An eye wash station should always be nearby wherever this chemical is used.

Skin Contact

Immediately flush exposed areas with large amounts of water and then, if a large area of the body is contaminated or the clothing has been saturated, immediately use a safety shower.

Remove contaminated clothing while in shower.

Flush exposed areas thoroughly with large amounts of water.

Wash contact areas with soap and water.

Keep affected areas of body cool


Clothing should be well washed before re-use

Contaminated shoes should be disposed of.

Planning and regular training for all employees on handling a chemical spill and first aid in case of exposure will improve the response in an emergency.