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ORS - Emergency Response


CALCIUM GLUCONATE GEL AS AN ANTIDOTE TO HYDROFLUORIC ACID BURNS ON SKIN

  1. Calcium Gluconate 2.5% Topical Gel can be purchased from:
    • Pharmascience Inc., 175 Rano St., Buffalo, NY 14207-2176, phone 1-800-207-4477. The cost for a 25 g tube is $27.55 but a minimum order of 6 tubes is required. A reduced price of $22.05 per tube is attached to purchases of 12 or more tubes. Pharmascience will add a 5% shipping and handling fee.
    • Cameron Medical, 9430 Burtis Street, South Gate, CA, 90280, phone 1-800-777-3723, e-mail cameronmedical@worldnet.att.net, Item #751500. The price is currently $32.82 for a 25 g tube. The purchase of six or more tubes reduces the price to $30.75. This does not include the cost for delivery.
    • Attard's Minerals, 5081 Field Street, San Diego, CA, 92110. Order attard@attminerals.com or phone 1-619-275-2016. A 30-gram tube is $28 and a 60-gram tube is $46. There is no minimum to buy. Orders of 6 or more get a 10% discount. Orders have a $5 flat rate S&H charge.

    ORS does not endorse any specific calcium gluconate supplier. The vendors listed above are simply companies known to offer the gel. This gel is available without a prescription (although please be aware that it is not approved by the FDA). Prices are current for December 2000. FYI, ORS stocks two tubes on each campus: one in the first aid pack and one in the wasteroom. The philosophy behind the stock distribution is to have the gel immediately available in any location where HF may be handled. Some lab workers keep gel supplies ready-to-grab on the air foils (sills) of the fume hoods where they will be working with this highly corrosive agent.

  2. If the commercial gel product is not available, an emergency in-house version can be prepared for treatment of hydrofluoric acid burns on skin. This homemade gel is composed of 3.5 grams of calcium gluconate powder mixed into 5 ounces of water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y Jelly or Surgilube. Pre-made stock should be kept on-hand whenever HF is to be used. There is little time for deliberation and searching for the tubes. HF users may want to run practice drills for possible HF incidents to guarantee that they can follow appropriate procedures quickly and automatically.

  3. A local pharmacy may also be available to prepare antidote gel. The pharmacist may choose to substitute magnesium for calcium.

NOTE: The major action of either of these two gels, commercial or homemade, is to provide excess (or substitute) calcium stores so that bone tissue does not act as the calcium supply. The calcium from the gel will function as a fluoride scavenger to generate calcium fluoride, a product that may be excreted from the body. Removal of calcium from blood and tissue by fluoride ion attack results in a serious, frequently life-threatening condition known as hypocalcemia.

All HF burns require a medical evaluation, whether treated with gel or not.


REFERENCES

Segal, Eileen B, "First Aid for a Unique Acid: HF," Chemical Health and Safety, September/October 1998, Vol. 5, No. 5, p. 25.

Bronstein, A. C. and Currance, P. L. "Emergency Care for Hazardous Materials Exposures." Mosby Company, 1988.

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