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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 18 2012

VIDEO: Fargo firefighters clean up acid spill at dental lab

FARGO – Firefighters responded to a small acid spill at a southside dental office this morning.

Firefighters were called about 9 a.m. to clean up what they thought was a half gallon of hydrofluoric acid at Marque Dental Laboratory, 1324 23rd St. S.

“We evacuated the whole building. It’s pretty bad stuff,” said Assistant Chief Gary Lorenz.

The evacuation included a dentist’s office above the laboratory, he said.

The spill occurred in a mechanical storage room. Firefighters were relieved to find it was a less toxic chemical that had spilled – muriatic acid – which is often used to clean cement or adjust pH in swimming pools, Lorenz said.

He said about noon that firefighters would soon finish cleaning up the spill and removing their equipment so the building could be used again.

Hydrofluoric acid is one of the strongest inorganic acids, used for industrial purposes such as glass etching, metal cleaning and making electronics.

It can cause chemical burns from contact or inhalation, and exposure can lead to fluoride poisoning.

“It’s always better to be safe than sorry,” Lorenz said.

The following video from the Fargo Fire Department shows the response to the spill and the visibility concerns from wearing a Level A suit, used for extremely hazardous conditions to life and health and is the highest level of protection a firefighter can wear in a hazmat situation.