(800) 726-4187
January 15, 2014
How bad are hazardous bases for your eyes? (WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO)

Municipalities constantly deal with acids and bases.  Many have no choice, but to store and maintain hazardous acids and bases on site.  A common injury associated with hazardous chemicals is when they come in contact with an operator’s eyes.  Operators all know that eye washing is essential to reduce the damage caused by hazardous chemicals, but many operators do not realize that the type of hazardous chemical plays a significant role in how bad the eye is damaged.  I was speaking with a water chemist at a state AWWA water conference recently and he described the difference in the severity of injury that occurs when an acid and base contact the eyes.

Pig eyes in strong base solution (left) and in strong acid solution (right).

Strong bases cause MUCH worse long term damage to the eye than strong acids.  Why?  In short it is the chemistry of how acids and bases react with proteins on the outer layer of the eye.  Acids tend to burn the eye creating a hard coating of burned carbon.  Bases tend to dissolve the proteins and can continue to destroy tissue until the hydroxides are quenched.  There is a great safety lecture video title “Exploding Eye” that shows the harmful effects acids and bases have on the eyes and the differences caused by each.  WARNING: The video is graphic and demonstrates the effects of acids and bases by using pigs eyes.

Over the years we have been contacted by municipalities that have suffered from liquid caustic (sodium hydroxide) burns.  One of the main reasons a municipality will evaluate CAL~FLO over liquid caustic or sodium hydroxide is operator safety.  CAL~FLO is a nonhazardous skin irritant and liquid caustic is hazardous and extremely dangerous.   It is our desire that the operator is exposed to neither chemical.  That is why automatic flush cycles are built into our system.  If the operator does work on one of our pumps and something splatters out of the hydro-tube, it is only water.  We provide operators with a nonhazardous chemical that is fed through an operator friendly and safe dosing system.

Good work habits reduce the risk of exposure to any hazardous or nonhazardous chemical. Good work practices include:

  • Wearing proper protective clothing and eye protection to reduce or eliminate the risk of exposure
  • Immediately using the closest eyewash station or shower to remove any chemical from contacted area
  • Removing clothing that has come in contact with the chemical

If your eyes come in contact with CAL~FLO slurry you should flush your eyes with water continuously for the first 15 minutes and seek additional medical attention if any irritation persists.


We would enjoy questions and feed back on this and other case study topics.   Please submit comments through our website or LinkedIn company page.

Author: Dallas Burnett



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Burnett, Inc.     7095 Highway 11      Campobello, SC 29322      1-800-726-4187      (864) 592-1658 tel      (864) 592-1690 fax