Date: 2001 - 2002
What information do you have on cleaning up hydrochloric acid
You may find specific information by doing a search of the terms such as
Exactly what you want to do depends on the conditions of the particular
event. For example, what you may do for cleaning up a leaking 55 gal. drum
in a warehouse will differ from what you would do for a spill of 50 ml. on a
lab bench top. In either case the following principles apply:
1. Protect personnel from injury. This may mean evacuation, or calling a
team from the fire or police department.
2. Have a plan in place for cleanup prior to the event, and have personnel
trained to execute the plan. This may mean all personnel, or individual
personnel trained to handle a spill -- it
all depends on the circumstances.
3. Be sure that the equipment and materials for cleanup are stored and
available. In some instances this may mean SCUBA gear, for example, since
HCl vapor is extremely irritating when
In general, three principles apply to all spills:
1. Handling reagents in a hood, or having Vermiculite readily available are
examples of CONFINEMENT.
2. DILUTION. Always stay "upwind" of the spill and pour or spray water on
the spill to reduce the potential danger of skin contact or inhalation. Of
course this does not mean dumping 5 gal of water on a lab spill of 100 ml.
Reasonable action must always be kept in mind.
3. NEUTRALIZATION. Sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate are the common
materials used to neutralize acid spills. These may come in commercially
available "spill kits" for acid spills. Buying such a kit is probably the
best way to
go. They are not very expensive, they have all the materials you need in one
unit, and they have instructions for their proper use.
Baking soda is very effective in neutralizing the acid. Make sure all acid
is neutralized by adding baking soda to an area in question if there is no
more fizzing than it has been neutralized. After that you can either hose
it away or clean it up like you would spilled salt.
It is generally a good idea to have on-hand a MSDS (Material Safety Data
Sheet) for each chemical/product/substance that you may have occasion to
work with. If the material is at your place of work, you may be required to
have the MSDS as available as the material it references, to satisfy your
Right-To-Know the nature of the hazards to which you may be exposed . A MSDS
will give information pertaining to the composition, associated hazards,
safe use and handling of the material, including the information you request.
I have consulted a MSDS to assemble this information. You did not say how big a
spill. Keep in mind that the EPA Reportable Quantity (RQ) is 5,000 lbs.
(2237 kg.) which is approximately 1,300 gallons.
Always avoid breathing the vapors of HCl. Use only in a well ventilated
area, or with adequate local ventilation/exhaust. Avoid contact with living
For small spills, cover the contaminated surface with sodium bicarbonate,
soda ash or lime. Mix and add water if necessary to form a slurry. Scoop up
slurry and wash site with sodium bicarbonate solution.
For large spills, evacuate persons from area that are not equipped with
proper protective equipment (refer to your MSDS). Stay upwind of any spill.
Stop leak at source. Dike to prevent spreading. Pump to non-metallic
In all cases, clean-up and disposal is to be done in conformance with local,
State and federal laws and ordinances.
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Update: June 2012