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Hydrogen Chloride

Fact Sheet for Hydrogen Chloride

September 2011

PDF Version

This fact sheet answers questions about hydrogen chloride. For more information, call Oregon Hazardous Substance Incident Surveillance (HSIS) at971-673-0977.

It is important to understand this information because hydrogen chloride is a potentially dangerous substance. The harmful effects of this substance depend on several factors: your age, the amount and length of time of exposure, the exposure (you breathed it in or it got on your skin) and whether or not other chemicals are present.1

What is hydrogen chloride?

Hydrogen chloride is a gas with a strong, irritating odor. Hydrogen chloride in water makes hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is a yellow liquid. Both may cause harmful health effects.

Where is hydrogen chloride found?

Hydrogen chloride is used to make chemicals and clean metal. It is found in household cleaners. People who work with or near hydrogen chloride may inhale the gas or get it on their skin or in their eyes. During an eruption some volcanoes release hydrogen chloride gas.

How might I be exposed?

Breathing air that contains naturally occurring hydrogen chloride (i.e. from volcanic eruptions). The chances of exposure of high levels of naturally occurring hydrogen chloride and from other releases of the substance are diminished by rainfall.

  • Breathing contaminated air or coming into contact with the substance during a spill or release incident.
  • Working in an industry that uses or produces hydrogen chloride.
  • Most community members will not come into contact with large amounts of hydrogen chloride gas.

What will hydrogen chloride do to me?

Most exposures to hydrogen chloride occur in industry or in transportation of the chemical. Brief exposure to small amounts may cause throat irritation. Higher levels can result in difficult breathing. Very high levels can cause swelling of the throat, fluid in lungs and even death. Contact with the skin or eyes can cause mild irritation to serious burns. Exposure to hydrogen chloride over a long period of time can cause lung problems, eye and skin irritation and yellowing of teeth. Ingestion will cause severe injury to mouth, throat, and stomach.

Children may be more vulnerable to hydrogen chloride.1

How can I protect myself?

In the event of a spill or release, follow instructions given by emergency responders and local authorities (i.e. shelter in place, evacuation, etc.). Cleaning products should be labeled and store in safe containers out of reach of children. Follow precautions and instructions for safe handling of products containing hydrogen chloride (i.e. wear protective clothing such as gloves and an apron).


In case of an emergency, contact your regional poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or 911 emergency services for help.

First Aid

Note: effects of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact) to substance may be delayed.2

Inhalation: move to fresh air. Begin rescue breathing (using proper respirator y medical device) if breathing has stopped and CPR if heart has stopped. Get medical attention right away.

Skin contact: remove and isolate contaminated clothing. Rinse area with running water for at least 30 minutes. Get medical attention right away.

Eye contact: rinse the whites of eyes with running water for at least 30 minutes, lifting upper and lower lids. If possible, remove contact lenses while rinsing. Get medical attention right away.

Ingestion: do not make person vomit.3 Call Oregon Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 or seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I find more information?

Oregon Hazardous Substances Incident Surveillance program

Other sources of information include:

This document was supported by funds from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) trust fund provided to the Oregon Health Authority under Cooperative Agreement #5U61/TS000130-02 from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

1Medical Management Guidelines for Ammonia, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry

2Emergency Response Guide Book, U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

3Oregon Poison Center, 2011