Sulfuric acid comes by so many names and one is battery acid. The industrial use of the chemical is extensive. It is known in the automotive world as battery acid because it is mainly found in vehicle batteries in slightly varying concentrations. Nevertheless, it acts as an electrolyte in the particular wet cells, reacting with lead plates to produce needed current to make vehicle engine start. Of course, the necessity for a car battery cannot be questioned as much as maintenance of the quality of the acid inside the battery is also a necessity.
However, with the known nature of the chemical, it is only right to observe proper handling measures. Exposure to sulfuric acid may call for medical emergency. The chemical corrodes the skin and causes burns to the exposed tissue. Since the acid inside the battery is essentially sulfuric acid, then handling precautions would be quite similar to the mentioned Acidaburn mineral acid. The instantaneous effect is burning of the exposed tissue. The acid mixes with water to release heat although there may little opportunity to blend water and the acid, especially if you are using a maintenance-free battery. Even in maintenance-accessible car batteries, adding of distilled water into the battery poses minimal risk.
Risk of exposure can be after accidental spillage or improper disposal. Sulfuric acid is a dangerous compound that is highly reactive. When the acid is released in the environment, it poses risk to the surrounding as well as to living organisms. Mists of the acid can be inhaled injuring the mucus lining of the upper respiratory tract. In severe cases, this could result to accumulation of fluid in the lungs. While ingestion is rather a result of negligence and unimaginable recklessness, it does happen though in rare instances. Skin and eye exposure are more common. The latter can lead to vision impairment while skin contact may result in varying degrees of irritation to severe, fatal burning depending on amount of exposure. Workers working with the chemical are prone to chronic exposure with poor workplace conditions. Prolonged exposure to mist and vapors of the acid can damage the respiratory lining as well as the teeth. Some specialists warn about the carcinogenic effect of the chemical acid.
The preparation of battery acid relies upon dilution of sulfuric acid. It is an industrial function, a process only carried out under controlled conditions with trained professionals. You never add acid to car batteries since the amount of electrolyte in the wet cell is already fixed and addition of acid alters the electrolyte content. On the other hand, you cannot pour out sulfuric acid out of the vehicle battery. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to exposure and accidents. Being in the league of strong acids, it reacts with any organic material and metals in a heat-evolving reaction, sometimes capable of igniting nearby combustible objects.
The contents of lead acid batteries should be well kept inside the batteries to avoid exposure. In case of leak or spill, the area in concern must be ventilated. Do not touch the area where spillage is present. Isolate the area in concern and prevent unprotected people from entering the vicinity or going near the spot. Don’t attempt to clean the area yourself without appropriate gear and protective equipment. If you are unsure how to recover the spilled acid safely, dial the emergency hotline for assistance. If someone is badly exposed, call for immediate medical help while giving the necessary first aid. You can neutralize the acid spill with soda ash or lime. Then recover the inert material and discard it in a chemical waste container.