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Written by
on 27 January 2011


It has been reported to West Sussex County Council that graffiti vandals have been using Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) to burn their “tags” (names) into glass surfaces. Bingo Dabber Acid etching is a form of graffiti that has started to show up in the UK. This alert is intended to inform Council contractors of potential issues surrounding the use of substances to acid etch glass.

In many cases, the etching acid (containing the hydrofluoric acid and other harmful substances, e.g. nitric acid) is transferred into empty bingo dabbers or large markers wrapped in masking tape. It is extremely corrosive and serious injuries may occur if it comes into contact with skin. HF will continue to burn into skin, even if people think they have washed it off.

You must be careful when finding any container, bingo marker or similar, or if you identify an area of “tagging” or “etching” on glass similar to the picture shown. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you attempt to clear up the receptacles.

Similarly if you are asked to replace windows that you suspect have been etched in this way then you must first undertake your COSHH assessment and provide and use suitable protective and disposal measures. On both matters, talk to your company health and safety advisers.

If you have recently worked on “tagged” surfaces and become aware of a burning sensation you should attend hospital immediately and inform the hospital that you may have come into contact with Hydrofluoric acid and/or Nitric acid.

You can freely download a copy of the following HSE guidance leaflet.

Article contributed by BHSEA – BHSEA is a registered Charity run by a group of voluntary members. Membership is open to organisation/companies and individuals.

Please visit their details for more information. The Birmingham, Health, Safety and Environment Association

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.