Alternative First Aid Procedure for Eye Contamination by HF
(ON Semiconductor, Phoenix)
Exposure of HF fluid or vapors can cause severe injury to the eyes. It is paramount that immediate treatment be administered. For many years, the gold standard of first aid treatment for HF splashes to the eyes has been a pre-mixed solution distributed by the Calgonate Corporation (a single source supplier of the solution). Approximately two years ago, the company stopped supplying the solution due to problems certifying their primary supplier. Customers were told to retain the current stock, regardless of the expiry date on the bottles – the premise being sterility is maintained as long as the bottles remain sealed. Some customer’s supplies are more than two years expired, which presents a concern to medical professionals regarding the use of expired topical medications. (The Calgonate gel – for skin contamination, was not impacted by their supplier issue.) HF liquid exposure to the eyes has a poor prognosis, but exposure to the HF vapors is better. Corneal opacification secondary to vapor exposure usually clears without residual effects, following immediate treatment. Despite the prognosis being less than desirable, treatment should begin immediately. Neither Zephiran or the gel form of calcium gluconate can be used in the eyes; it is designed for topical skin use only. This presents an opportunity for medical professionals who are concerned about using expired Calgonate Eyewash. An alternate treatment (with a prescribed formula and a step/action table) for acute eye exposure to HF, has been developed by medical professionals outside of the semiconductor industry. Items necessary to formulate the irrigation solution, are readily available. Occupational physicians are willing to prescribe the ampules of injectable calcium gluconate to be stocked on-site, for occupational health nurses to mix the solution at the time of need. The application of this treatment is most appropriate for Occupational Health use within the semiconductor industry, and is an acceptable work around to the supplier shortage.