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Laboratory Safety Manual

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  Section 10: Chemical Specific Information



Fluorine gas is corrosive to exposed tissues and to the upper and lower respiratory tracts.  Fluorine penetrates deeply into body tissues and will continue to exert toxic effects unless neutralized.  Workers should have 2.5% calcium gluconate gel on hand before work with fluorine begins.

Fluorine reacts violently and decomposes to hydrofluoric acid on contact with moisture.  Fluorine is the most powerful oxidizer known.  It reacts with virtually all inorganic and organic substances.  Fluorine ignites in contact with ammonia, ceramic materials, phophorus, sulfur, copper wire, acetone and many other organic and inorganic compounds.

Emergency Procedures

In case of skin contact: Fluorine hydrolyzes very rapidly yielding hydrofluoric acid so that skin burns are like that from exposure to HF.  Flush affected area with copious amounts of water for 5 minutes.  Remove contaminated clothing as rapidly as possible.  Apply 2.5% calcium gluconate gel to the affected area and continue to apply every 15 minutes while seeking immediate medical attention.

In case of eye contact:  Fluorine is corrosive and irritating to the eyes.  Flush contaminated eye(s) immediately with copious quantities of water.  Continue for a minimum of 30 minutes.  Seek medical attention immediately.

In case of inhalation: Even very low concentrations may irritate the respiratory tract and brief exposure to 50 ppm can be intolerable.  High concentrations can cause severe damage to the respiratory system and can be fatal.  PROMPT MEDICAL ATTENTION IS NECESSARY IN ALL CASES OF OVEREXPOSURE.  Conscious persons should be assisted to an area with fresh, uncontaminated air. 

In case of ingestion: Not a likely route of exposure.


Teflon is the preferred gasket material when working with fluorine gas.  Keep equipment scrupulously dry.  The reaction between metals and fluorine is relatively slow at room temperature, but becomes vigorous and self-sustaining if the temperature is elevated.  Use only in well-ventilated areas, vented gas storage cabinets, or fume hoods.  Process valves should be opened and closed with remote controlled extensions passing through a suitable barricade for additional protection.  Double valving should be employed to facilitate the reduction in pressure from high pressure sources of fluorine.

Fluorine reacts with many materials normally recommended for handling compressed gases.  Thoroughly review the incompatibilities before working with this substance.


Use and store fluorine in a ventilated gas cabinet or fume hood.  When a gas cabinet is warranted (e.g., cylinders larger than lecture bottle size that are used in a fume hood), install a fluorine gas monitoring system.  Follow all applicable recommendations for storage and handling of compressed gases.


Fluorine cylinders should be returned to the compressed gas distributor when emptied or no longer used.

For More Information

See the MSDS for fluorine from BOC Gases.

Section 10: Chemical Specific Information


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