A hydrochloric acid spill caused an interruption in classes at UCSI University earlier today (Wednesday, 17th August).
The incident, which happened at approximately 10am at the university’s Block C science lab, caused teachers and students to be evacuated from the building. A 28-year-old female student, who faced difficulties in breathing, was also given immediate medical care.
According to reports, an unnamed lab technician accidentally broke a 2.5 litre container of hydrochloric acid, resulting in the spillage. A Fire and Rescue Department spokesperson explained that they received a phone call regarding the incident at 10:43am, and immediately sent a team of personnel to the university, which was located at Taman Connaught, Cheras.
They arrived at the location approximately 10 minutes later and used a large amount of sand to absorb the acid. “We couldn’t use water to clean the spillage as it could cause the chemical components to diffuse into the air. During the cleaning process, we also had to make sure the windows were open. A litmus test was also conducted at certain intervals until the pH value went back to neutral. The whole procedure took around 1 to 2 hours,” elaborated the spokerperson.
Although the spillage was successfully removed, the spokesperson insisted that all students and lecturers keep clear of the area until a chemical test can be conducted. This is to ensure that no residue remains.
Hyodrochloric acid is a highly corrosive and strong mineral acid that can cause damage to the respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines if not handled properly. Skin contact with large amounts of the liquid could also cause severe burns to the skin.
If inhaled, it could cause the victim to experience coughing, hoarseness, and shortness of breath. In more serious cases, spasm of the larynx, sores in the respiratory tract, and even fluid build-up in the lungs could occur too.