Potassium Fluoride


Potassium fluoride is a chemical compound with the formula KF. It is one of two primary sources of the fluoride ion for chemistry and applications in manufacturing. It is part of the alkali halide family and can be found naturally as the rare mineral carobbiite. Inorganic potassium fluoride is created by dissolving potassium carbonate in hydrofluoric acid. [1] Potassium fluoride takes the form of white crystals or powder and it has a a sharp saline taste. The compound can be moved in a solid or aqueous solution form and is toxic if ingested. [2]

Uses [2,3]

Potassium fluoride is commonly used in etching and frosting glass, making silver solder flux and insecticides. [2, 3] It is also used as a means of salt fluoridation through the addition of potassium fluoride to iodised salt. The compound is used as a catalyst in organic synthesis and is also a primary ingredient in pesticides and disinfectants. [3]


Routes of Exposure

People can be exposed to potassium fluoride by inhalation, consumption of contaminated food or drink and by skin contact. [4]

Health Effects

Acute Effects [4]

Severity of symptoms depend on the level and type of exposure.

  • If someone is exposed potassium fluoride in high doses, they may experience coughing, a dry/sore throat and irritation of the respiratory tract and nasal mucous membranes. The person may also experience other respiratory difficulties.
  • If there is continuous exposure or contact to potassium fluoride, it will case caustic burns and/or corrosion of the area that has been exposed.
  • If swallowed, potassium can cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea and feelings of weakness within a short period of time. If exposed for a longer period of time, there might be CNS depression and negative cardiac effects.

Chronic Effects [4]

Potassium fluoride is toxic to multiple body systems. Long-term or repeated exposure can cause pain in the joints and slowing ossification of the bones. Chronic exposure to the compound can cause discolouration of the teeth, inflammation of the respiratory tract, pain in the nasal septum, loss of appetite and feelings of weakness.


First Aid Measures [4]

    • Ingestion: If ingested, rinse mouth and DO NOT induce vomiting. Give the victim lots of water to drink. Immediately call a doctor or a poison centre. If ingested in large quantities, go straight to the emergency department.
    • Skin contact: In case of skin or hair contact, remove/take off all contaminated clothing immediately and thoroughly rinse with water. DO NOT apply any type of neutralizing agent, including chemical. If irritation continues, take victim to a doctor.
    • Eye contact: Flush eyes carefully with water for several minutes. Check for and remove contact lenses if easy to do so. Continue rinsing. If irritation continues, take victim to ophthalmologist.
    • Inhaled: Take contaminated person to nearest fresh air source and monitor their breathing. Call a doctor/poison centre immediately.

      Exposure Controls/Personal Protection [4]

  • Engineering controls: Safety showers and emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure. Ensure there is adequate ventilation. Whenever possible, material should be handled in a laboratory.
  • Personal protection: Safety glasses, protective and dustproof clothing, gloves and a combined gas/dust mask with a P3 filter.

Regulation [5]

United States:



ACGIH (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists)

2.5 micrograms/m3averaged over an 8-hour shift

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)

2.5 micrograms/m3averaged over a 10-hour shift

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

2.5 micrograms/m3averaged over an 8-hour shift

Australia [6]

Safe Work Australia: WorkSafe Australia has set an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) concentration for Fluorides of 2.5 mg/m3 over a 5-day working week. In industrial settings, it is recommended that exposure be kept below this level. This can be done in multiple ways including the use of local exhaust ventilation.