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Dangers/Toxicity of inhaling muriatic acid fumes

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A discussion started in 2005 but continuing through 2018

January 15, 2014

Q. Hi,
I am 8 weeks' pregnant and, while cleaning washroom, I accidentally had an exposure of the mixture of chlorine and muriatic acid. I was already an asthmatic and, after the exposure of the above-mentioned acids, I started coughing and felt congestion and pain in my chest, my heart rate increased and I felt nausea. I used inhaler and a cough syrup and felt a little better but even after 12 hours I wasn't feeling ok. I feel pain in chest.What should I Do? Can the exposure of these two acids for 4 to 5 minutes cause harm 2 my lungs or respiratory tract? Or the fetus in my womb? I will be thankful for your response.

Saira Ijaz
- Lahore, Pakistan

February 26, 2014

!! My brother in-law's sister was hospitalized for having difficulty breathing and weakened for more than 3 months; the doctors did not find any reason of illness. When they transferred her to another hospital to ask for second opinion they found out that her lungs had been damaged by inhaling the fumes from muriatic acid while cleaning the bathroom with the door closed. Sadly it was too late when they diagnosed the problem; she already had a multiple organ failure and died in the fourth month. So I suggest anyone who uses muriatic acid should take precautions and know the proper handling of this deadly chemical.

rey bantiguen
- pangasinan, philippines

February 2014

So sorry for your family's loss, Rey.

Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 17, 2014

Q. Okay so I was cleaning our bathroom yesterday and thought that I'd add muriatic acid and it was my first time using it so I didn;'t know how strong it would be. When I poured a good amount in the bowl and I suddenly inhaled it, it was really strong but I ran out as soon as possible. I think I did cough but no phlegm was involved, and my throat is dry and my nose is a little numb(?) But I'm still a little worried. Should I consult a doctor or?

Mary Nguyen
- Baguio City Benguet Philippines

August 30, 2014

A. In regards to mixing chlorine and muriatic acid, you are actually creating "Mustard Gas", yes the same as used in combat.

Just saying, this is not good for your respiratory tract or your future health.

pete maziarz
chief engineer and CPO - camarillo California

Sulfur mustard

August 2014

Hi. To nitpick a little it's not actually mustard gas, but it is a toxic chlorine gas.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 9, 2014

Q. I was wondering how serious this can be: I was working in a unit where my lead guy did not know and we were not told about respirator in this unit. But after the fact I inhaled some acid; it burned my eyes, nose & back of my throat immediately coming in contact with it. I was coughing so bad that I thought I was going to puke; then not much longer after that my heart rate increased thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest, then came chest pains and felt like I had peel or something in the back of my throat that just wouldn't come up. Still having chest pains here and there. Is this serious -- do I need to be checked out? Told my supervisor what happened but he didn't say anything he just turned around and finished his cigarette because I asked what was in that unit even though we spotted the sign and my lead guy told me: "it's just water, man". That's why I asked my boss because I know water never made me feel like that.

Brad waits
- Sulphur, Louisiana

December 8, 2014

I was cleaning our toilet when I mixed bleach and hydrochloric acid together in a pail of water and brushed our toilet floor. I accidentally inhaled the fumes from the chemicals and started having tight lungs and sore throat etc. I was having the usual symptoms of inhaling some fumes. I splash myself with water and went to have fresh air. After 2 hours I felt a bit better but still having a little dizziness, and when I cough my lungs seem to tighten a bit. Furthermore, I feel weak (like coming out from a fever).
What should I do/take in order these effects will go away? Will I have future complications/problems concerning these problems?
Thank you!

Ajit Sharma
- Kanpur, UP, India

January 26, 2015

Q. Good evening, I was cleaning my client's bathroom. Unbeknown to me she had put Clorox in the toilet. I put Lysol toilet bowl cleaner in the toilet and immediately could smell the fumes. I left the bathroom and decided to let it air a bit and in the meantime I sprayed Easy off oven cleaner in the oven to clean it later. Suddenly my chest tighten up so hard and the pain was unbelievable. my client is a nurse and she immediately gave me an aspirin and 2 Tylenol with a glass of water. The pain subsided. Do you think there was any major damage. I will NEVER AGAIN clean with Tilex, Clorox, or anything like Easy-off oven cleaner without covering my nose/mouth and eyes with goggles. I need to know if you think I should use an inhaler to clear my lungs or anything like that. Many thanks.

Aishah Muhammad
- Hamilton, Bermuda

February 2015

A. So sorry for your problems, Ajit and Aishah. Yes, mixing toilet bowl cleaner or acid with Clorox (bleach) does release chlorine gas or related toxic gasses and is very bad for you. But we are not doctors and nobody can advise on your medical condition over the internet. Please see a doctor and get well soon.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 22, 2015

Q. Hello. Last week I was pouring muriatic acid into a 9x54 tank used for water softeners, in order to break up a calcite buildup within the tank. I wore a respirator, and safety glasses. As I began pouring the acid down a funnel and into the tank, I noticed fumes and smoke rising out of the tank, then before i knew it, my right eye began to sting. I immediately stopped what I was doing, removed the double layer of surgical gloves, and ran inside to wash my eye out. I did so for less than five minutes, throughout the afternoon, periodically, I would return to sink to wash my eye out. Now, it has almost been a week, and my right eye lid continues to have a minor twitch, on top of that, my right eye continues to feel irritated, and dry. It doesn't feel the same as before the acid incident. I can tell there is a difference in the way my eye feels, however, there is no visible difference in my vision. I am sure this has occurred before, and it is not life threatening; also, it was only a minor exposure, and the most severe symptom is just agitation in my eye, and it continues to feel aggravated. Also, I am emotionally distressed because, hey, it's my eye! Other than seeing a doctor, i would like some advice, and perhaps some comforting words, that my eye will be okay. I am also a hypochondriac.

jordan scott
- jacksonville florida united states

July 28, 2015

Q. I inhaled the fumes for more than 20 minutes. I'm feeling very uneasy in breathing; even my throat was having burning sensation. What to do? Please answer.

Chaitan ya varma
- Hyderabad,telangana,india

September 8, 2015

Q. Plumber had cleaned the water tank with muriatic acid and my water purifier system was directly connected to the pipe line.
We have consumed the purified water and my wife is six pregnant. Will it be harmful for wife and pregnancy baby?

Sujoy Kumar
- kolkata, west bengal, India

September 26, 2015

Q. I decided to use Lysol toilet bowl cleaner to clean my fridge. I wasn't wearing gloves or a mask because I had no clue about the dangers of this. It is couple hours later and I feel strange and breathing heavy...

Melissa cross
- Lexington Kentucky USA

November 11, 2015

Q. I mixed 1 Part Muriatic acid to 2 parts of water. I poured the acid into a spray bottle than filled it with water. I used this mixture to remove wax from my porcelain floor. I sprayed sections of the floor and let it stand 15 minutes than wiped off with a sponge. There was about 8 sections and it took me about 4 hours. I had the windows open as well as a fan blowing. All through this procedure I wore a dust mask. In between sections I would go outside and breath fresh air. The next morning it felt like I was coming down with the flu; my body was aching a little and my throat was a little itchy. Than my head started getting stuffed up like a sinus infection; than my sinuses started to drain and I was blowing my nose constantly. Now My head feels a little tight with a slight headache and I have a little cough and my throat is itchy. Would this have anything to do with the fumes or is it a head cold?

Elwin Moody
- Stanton, California USA

November 12, 2015

A. Good day all.

I have been in the electroplating industry for well over 40 years and have been exposed to many very nasty chemicals.
I am now at the ripe old age of 57, and in very good health.
If one chooses to work with chemicals, one must educate themselves about their nature.

It was my priority to seek info as MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet).
All the info is there regarding PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), toxicity, conditions to avoid, etc.
Why in the world would one use Lysol to clean a fridge, when one can use baking soda, vinegar, dilute ammonia, lemon juice etc.?
People use colas to clean toilets.

Stripping wax with Muriatic? Who ever heard of that?
A little knowledge is a VERY dangerous thing.

Professionals use ACETIC acid (80% and it is flammable), but they dilute it to 20%.

The vinegar that one puts in one's salad dressing, or on one's french fries is 5% ACETIC acid.

One can also use dilute ammonia for stripping wax.
My mother taught me that.

If one chooses to work with chemicals, and I cannot stress this enough, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Do not take hearsay for granted.

One does not prepare ones food that way.
I'm sure everyone reads the label on the foods that one consumes, to find out about the ingredients, etc.
Why would one without knowledge about chemicals try and use them?

This site and the internet are very useful for ASKING questions and GETTING answers.

If one doesn't know about, or is unsure about ANY chemical, please, and I stress this, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Your health and safety is at risk.


Eric Bogner, Lab Tech.
Aerotek Mfg. Ltd. - Whitby, Ont., Canada

February 5, 2016

Q. I was washing a toilet this morning using some chemical that produce fumes its like I mixed two acids together it later started producing fumes now I can't breathe properly, am also coughing and my chest is producing whistling sound what should I do? I have taken milk as an emergency treatment. Am I in danger of getting some lung disease?

mary sorty
- dammam,saudi arabia

February 2016

A. Hi Mary. I feel for your situation, but if a trained and experienced doctor would never attempt to diagnose someone via an internet posting, the idea that strangers with no medical training can do so is silly. You have to get to a doctor ... it's really that simple.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

May 21, 2016

Q. I work for non profit organization for 2 years; they provide me a room and sometimes food but they use me a lot. In my room they put camera and don't let me shut off the screen. I work as a cleaning person and I do everything such as dishwasher. They pay me same salary every month, no overtime, no insurance, no days sick, and no vacation. But lately I get sick; one of my eyes are bigger than other and I feel tired after less work, I feel I just want to sleep, nervous, disappointed and also my throat tsh is low what can I do?

Mohamed el yakoubi
- New york

February 5, 2017

Q. My boyfriend is working in a company who refills bottles of Muriatic Acid,and I am afraid of the possible effect on his health.Can you please help me make sure that he is safe. Thank you.

Cecille Marie Manzon
- Manila, Philippines

March 13, 2017

Q. Four days ago I came to visit my mother and discovered a foul smell in the bathroom. I couldn't detect where it was coming from. After two days of breathing in the fumes (each time I visited the bathroom) I noticed I was feeling weaker and weaker, my body ached everywhere and was barely able to move by the third day, and awoke with a very painful neckache and headache. That day I discovered that my mother's helper (she's elderly) put an entire bottle of Lyme A-Way down the toilet to take away a water ring in the toilet. It took away the ring, but the stench of the stuff (46% hydrochloric acid) has been lingering in the air for four days now, despite every attempt to get rid of it. (Flush it down and keep the fan in the bathroom on.) I finally got wise to the idea of closing the bathroom door and just not using that bathroom while I'm here this trip. (Da!) Within hours, my energy returned and body aches are nearly gone. I will see my doctor when I return from this trip, but just wanted to add my story to the lot, as I've never experienced anything like this before. That said, I found reading these entries very helpful. Thanks!

Susan Low
Massage Therapist/Sensory Therapist - Palm Desert, California USA

March 13, 2017

thumbs up sign PS! I overlooked mentioning the most important aspect of my experience with inhaling the hydrochloric acid over several days: by the time I understood what was happening, I decided to find a spa in my local area (where I am visiting) so I could use a sauna and sweat out the toxicity. I also sat in a Himalayan rock salt room - great for detoxing - the spa workers said. Then I had a massage and moved all those nasty toxins into the blood to be cleansed. So the moral of my story is: after getting poisoned - get it out asap! Detox, sauna, massage. It helped clear it all expediently and the next day I felt nearly normal again. No breathing probs, headaches, aches or weakness. It's very empowering ~ assisting ourselves in our own healing process! :-))

Susan Low [returning]
Massage Therapist/Sensory Therapist - Palm Desert, California USA

April 4, 2017

Q. Hi, I am a chemistry teacher working in Africa. As there are not proper equipments in lab, I safely pipetted 1.6 ml of HCl by mouth. Later the possibility of fumes toxicity crossed my mind. So here I am with no apparent symptoms of any sort, no cough, shortness of breath etc, its been 4 hours and I am still fine. Should I seek medical attention? Medical services are poor in my area.

Adnan Ahmad
- Basse, URR, The Gambia

April 8, 2017

Q. Can inhaling muriatic acid give you mycoplasma pneumonia? I work in a place where they are always using muriatic acid to clean up. Most of the times they don't let me know, and I inhaled a lot of this chemical! I went to the hospital yesterday and I got diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumonia, I started having problems to breathe, pain in my chest and pain on my abdomen. I want to know if there is any possibility muriatic acid causes this?

Javier Solis
- Gilmer Texas USA

April 2017

A. Hi Javier. Anything is possible ... on the one hand, it strikes me as entirely plausible that overexposure to HCl could precipitate such a problem; but on the other hand, plating shop workers often work with it day after day, year after year, for decades on end without any serious problems. The hospital can probably inform you better than strangers on the internet regarding what part, if any, hydrochloric acid may have played in your illness. If they won't, an industrial hygienist/physician may be able to help. If your suspicion, based on the totality of the situation is strong, you might consult a personal injury attorney. Feel better.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

April 26, 2017

A. I have worked with HCl acid while working at a galvanising plant. I can tell you that although our acid was diluted to about 16% it was still very sore on the lungs, and although I'm still only 31 I do have chest problems which I attribute to this. It's also worth mentioning that the doors inside that were closed to the acid had turned black with rot and the overhead cranes above the acid need weekly maintenance while the other one didn't need much more than the odd service

John Crawford
- derry, n.ireland, uk

May 29, 2017

A. Other than being a strong irritant to eyes and nasal passages, there is little toxicity from HCl fumes. The OSHA TWA limit is 5 ppm, but most people would not tolerate 1 ppm in the air that they breathe.

Lyle Kirman
consultant - Cleveland, Ohio

October 14, 2017

Q. I put cleaning acid thinking it was battery acid. It is smelling awful and suffocating. How dangerous is it and will it subside or need to get rid of the whole battery? Can anybody please help me immediately?

Teeka Bhattarai
- Kathmandu Nepal

October 2017

A. Hi Teeka. I don't know exactly what you mean by "cleaning acid", but presume you mean muriatic acid. I would certainly suggest that you immediately dispose of the muriatic acid, and rinse the battery repeatedly before filling it with proper battery acid.

The lifetime of lead-acid batteries is only about 3 years; so if this is an old battery, I'd simply dispose of it. If it was a brand new battery I think I'd try to use it after replacing the acid.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

February 21, 2018

Q. I work in metal amadeya42. There is no scrubber or direct vent over the acid tank. I can smell the fumes and am starting to taste the acid in my mouth. Should there be a scrubber over the acid or some kind of hooded vent. Is this an OSHA requirement or something the company is not obligated to do.

Eric [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- St.Louis, Missouri

Industrial Ventilation
from AbeBooks


February 2018

A. Hi Eric. My understanding is that the company is obligated to provide a safe working environment, and to employ engineering controls rather than personal protective equipment when feasible (in other words, an exhaust hood for the tank rather than a respirator for you). An exhaust hood is almost surely required.

The fumes probably require scrubbing before discharge, but that part doesn't personally affect you as a worker as long as they are exhausted from the workplace.

opinion! Workplaces have gotten progressively better with time, and personally I feel that we have reached the point where "the social contract" demands that workplaces be free of such fumes regardless of specific codes, rules, or laws.

There is an OSHA Hotline you can call if your relationship with management is too tenuous for you to suggest the exhaust hood though. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

February 23, 2018

A. The human nose is very sensitive to HCl fumes and can detect < 1 ppm. OSHA limits are much higher than most people would tolerate. But, in addition to the human discomfort, the fumes are extremely corrosive to your plant and equipment, so exhaust is really needed.

Lyle Kirman
Consultant - Cleveland Heights

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