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Prevalent Substances That Can Cause Chemical Burns in PA Workplaces


Chemical burns can be very serious injuries that cause severe and permanent tissue damage. The severity of a chemical burn will depend on the chemical that caused the burn, its concentration and the length of time the worker was exposed to the substance. Since the treatment of a chemical burn injury depends on which substance caused the burn, employees should be able to identify any dangerous chemicals used in the workplace.

We have listed the chemicals most likely to cause on-the-job chemical burns in the Philadelphia area.

Strong Acids

  • Sulfuric acid: Sulfuric acid is used in car and truck batteries, drain cleaners, metal cleaners, fertilizer manufacturing, and has many other industrial applications.
  • Muriatic or hydrochloric acid: This highly corrosive acid is used to maintain swimming pools, clean metal and brick, and etch concrete.
  • Hydrofluoric acid: This extremely toxic acid is used in rust removers and industrial cleaners. It is also used in the manufacturing of fertilizer and refrigerators and in petroleum refining.
  • Nitric acid: This very strong acid has many industrial applications and is used in the production of other chemicals.
  • Phosphoric acid: Phosphoric acid is found in industrial detergents and disinfectants and is used in metal cleaning, metal refining, and rust proofing. It is also used in fertilizer manufacturing.

Strong Bases

  • Sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide (Lye): Lye is used in oven cleaners and drain cleaners. Lye is also used in soap making. Diluted lye is used in some types of food preparation.
  • Sodium and calcium hypochlorite: Hypochlorites are used as bleaches and swimming pool chlorinating solutions. These bases are also oxidizing agents.
  • Ammonia: Ammonia is used in cleaners and detergents. Gaseous anhydrous ammonia has many industrial applications. It is commonly used in fertilizer manufacturing.
  • Lime: Dry lime and cement are used in construction and the building trades.

Symptoms of Workplace Chemical Burns

  • Itching
  • Skin irritation
  • Burning or pain
  • Numbness
  • Blisters
  • Bleached, reddened, or darkened skin
  • Tissue necrosis (tissue death)


Chemical burns must be treated immediately.  The longer the substance remains on the skin, the more severe the burn.

If you have suffered a work-related chemical burn, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including your pain and suffering. To learn more about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation, please call Mednick, Mezyk & Kredo, P.C., at 888-807-WORK (9675). There is no charge for the consultation.

Category: Workers’ Compensation

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