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The Effects of Muriatic Acid

By Colette Larson ; Updated July 27, 2017

Muriatic acid, more commonly referred to as hydrochloric acid, is a poisonous and highly corrosive hydrogen chloride solution that is widely used in industrial settings, e.g., producing chlorides, dyes and fertilizers, electroplating, metal cleaning, and the textile, rubber and photographic industries. Colorless to slightly yellow in appearance, muriatic acid can be identified by its irritating and pungent odor. Harmful effects are experienced through several routes of exposure to muriatic acid, including inhalation, ingestion, and skin or eye contact. Ingesting or inhaling muriatic acid may be fatal.

Ingestion

Acute oral exposure to muriatic acid via ingestion causes severe burns of the mouth, mucous membranes, esophagus, and stomach. Symptoms that may be experienced range from mouth, throat, chest and abdominal pain to breathing difficulties due to swelling of the throat, drooling, fever, vomiting blood and rapid drop in blood pressure. If the person who ingested a muriatic acid solution is conscious, provide large amounts of milk or water to dilute the solution. Do not induce vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention.

Inhalation

Short term inhalation exposure to muriatic acid causes eye, nasal, and respiratory tract irritation and inflammation, as well as pulmonary edema. Brief exposure may be lethal. Symptoms exhibited after muriatic acid exposure include a bluish tinge to lips and fingernails, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, coughing, choking, vertigo, rapid pulse, low blood pressure and weakness. Move a person affected by inhalation of muriatic acid to fresh air at once. Keep them warm and perform CPR if breathing stops. Seek immediate medical attention.

Eye and Skin Exposure

Muriatic acid skin and eye contact produces severe burns, ulceration, and scarring. The severity of the burns depends directly on the strength of the solution. Severe burns may progress to ulcerations that lead to scarring. Long-term skin contact causes dermatitis. Contact with eyes may cause reduced vision, cataracts or blindness. Flush affected skin areas or eyes with water for a minimum of 15 minutes. Do not rub or wash skin. If clothing has been penetrated, remove it prior to flushing the skin with water. Seek immediate medical attention.

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