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I love reference material, and the periodic table of elements is one of my favorite charts. Knowing a product's ingredients, as well as the potential hazards associated with those ingredients, is essential in planning adequate protection from the dangers of a hazardous product. Corrosivechemical action can burn and destroy living tissues or other materials when brought in contact. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) lists the ingredients in a hazardous product, the hazards to safety and health, and the precautions to follow when using the product. Under the Hazard Communication Standard written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers who use, store, or manufacture hazardous materials are required to make Material Safety Data Sheets available to all employees who potentially could be exposed to the material. Although there is no standard MSDS format, all Material Safety Data Sheets must contain the same basic information. This section identifies the product and gives the name, address, and emergency telephone number of its manufacturer. This section lists the product ingredients subject to regulations and standards, and lists the percentage of each ingredient by total weight. PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit), established by OSHA, is the amount of an airborne substance that most healthy adult workers can be exposed to at work without adverse effect. LD50 represents the lethal dose that will kill 50 percent of the test animals in laboratory experiments through either skin contact or ingestion. TLV (Threshold Limit Value), established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), is the recommended airborne concentration of a substance that nearly all workers can be exposed to without adverse effects.
There are several reasons why TLVs should not be considered absolute guarantees of protection. Vapor pressure indicates how easily a liquid will evaporate and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Specific gravity is the ratio of the weight of a product's known volume to the weight of an equal volume of water.
Evaporation rate is the rate at which a product will change from a liquid to a gas when compared to the evaporation rate of a known material. Solubility in water is the quantity of a product that will dissolve in water at room temperature. Percent volatile means the percentage of a liquid or solid that will evaporate at 70 degrees F (unless another temperature is indicated).
Appearance and odor may help to identify the product and help to verify that you have the appropriate MSDS. This section describes the circumstances under which the product may ignite or explode and provides instructions on how to deal with these hazards.
Flammable limits are the lowest and highest concentrations of vapor or gas in the air that will ignite when exposed to a spark or flame.
Extinguishing media refers to materials that can extinguish a fire, such as foam, water, carbon dioxide, or dry chemical. Special fire fighting procedures may recommend special protective equipment to use or special fire fighting measures to follow.
Unusual fire and explosion hazards covers factors such as toxic or irritant gases that may be released in a fire. Stability indicates whether the product will decompose over time and the environmental conditions, such as heat or direct sunlight, that may cause a dangerous reaction.
Hazardous decomposition products indicates which hazardous substances might be released during fires or from decomposition. Hazardous polymerization is a process by which the molecules of a chemical can combine to form larger molecules (polymerize). It may also indicate whether the hazardous product is listed in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Annual Report on Carcinogens or has been found to be a potential carcinogen in the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) or by OSHA.
Acute health effects are signs and symptoms that result from a single exposure, such as headaches, dizziness, skin or eye irritation, vomiting, coma, or death.
Chronic health effects are gradual and occur through repeated exposure over an extended period of time. Acute effects usually are reported in more detail than chronic effects because more research has been conducted on acute effects.
This section indicates procedures for cleaning up spills and leaks and disposing of the product.
This section describes personal protective equipment, work practices, and ventilation procedures to use when working with the product. If a product does not have sufficient information on the label, contact the manufacturer for an MSDS.
Carefully read all sections of the MSDS prior to using the product and follow all precautionary advice.
Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Exposure Indices.
Regional Poison Control Centers can provide over-the-phone information on the potential health effects of product ingredients. RACHEL (Remote Access Chemical Hazard Electronic Library), Environmental Research Foundation, PO Box 73700, Washington, D.C.
The Guide to Hazardous Products Around the Home is a personal action manual for protecting your health and the environment. Promoted by Greenpeace, the United Nations Environmental Programme, 50 Simple Things You can do to Save the Earth and The Green Consumer. Though much effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, the Household Hazardous Waste Project assumes no responsibility and disclaims any injury or damage resulting from the use or effect of any product or information specified in this publication. Periodic Table of Elements - Table of Elements - Periodic Table Chart - periodic Table of elements with names.
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If the manufacturer claims its product is a trade secret, the ingredients will not be listed on the MSDS. Although the MSDS is designed for industrial workers, it can provide valuable product information to all users of hazardous products. While manufacturers are required by law to provide accurate product information, the quality of this information may vary significantly depending upon the thoroughness of each manufacturer. While they are not required to provide consumers with a copy of an MSDS, responsible businesses should respond to your request. If the manufacturer does not respond after several requests, it should be possible to obtain a copy of the MSDS by contacting the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) where the manufacturer is located.
First, check to see that the MSDS is written with your intended use of the product in mind. If it does not provide a preparation date or if the preparation date is several years old, request an updated copy. The product ingredients may be listed by chemical name(s) and by common name(s) (such as bleach). The laboratory results are used to estimate a substance's toxicity to humans by adjusting the test results according to human body weight and characteristics. First, TLVs are not intended for, nor do they take into consideration exposure values for, children, pregnant women, hypersensitive individuals, or other high risk groups.
A specific gravity of greater than 1 means the substance will sink in water; less than 1 means it will float on water. Normal butyl acetate (n-BuAc), which has an evaporation rate of 1.0, is commonly used for comparison. For example, gases with low water solubility are more likely to reach the deep tissues of the lungs; highly soluble gases are more likely to dissolve into the moist mucous membranes of the upper airways.
If the percent volatile exceeds 10 percent, be sure to use the product in a well-ventilated area.
A product with a flash point near or below 100 degrees F is particularly dangerous because exposure to any ignition source, such as a spark from static electricity or a burning cigarette, may set off a fire or explosion. The Lower Flammable Limit is the LFL (or LEL) and the Upper Flammable Limit is the UFL (or UEL).
If this chemical reaction happens too quickly, it may produce a great amount of heat (especially when large quantities of materials are involved), which may result in a fire or explosion. It describes routes of exposure and effects of acute and chronic exposure, including the signs, symptoms and diseases that may result from excessive exposure, any medical conditions that are generally recognized as being aggravated by exposure to the product, and emergency and first aid procedures to follow in case of overexposure. Some hazardous substances (such as organic solvents) can be absorbed through skin contact without damaging the skin and without your being aware of it.
Examples include cancer, liver or kidney damage, birth defects, or central nervous system damage. Isolating the long-term effects of a single chemical is difficult because individuals are exposed to toxic substances from a variety of sources, there may be a lapse in time between exposure and the development of symptoms, and symptoms may vary from one person to another. In general, information on disposal is not supplied in detail because local, state, and federal regulations vary. A product that qualifies as nontoxic can still contain hazardous ingredients, but not in large enough amounts to cause an acute reaction. If a product is not very hazardous, the sections should contain information showing that this is the case. This comprehensive, 178-page handbook explains product ingredients, safety issues, disposal, recycling outlets, safer product alternatives, and more!
The Guide was written by the Household Hazardous Waste Project, winner of the 1991 President's Environment and Conservation Challenge Award.
If you decide to buy a product that does not give complete information about its hazardous ingredients, you may need to contact the manufacturer or distributor and request a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for that product.
You should not consider an MSDS to be a complete source of information on a product, but rather an essential starting point in gathering important health and safety information. For example, if a product is to be sprayed, but the MSDS only describes the characteristics of the product in powdered or in liquid form, request additional information.
For example, sodium hypochlorite is a chemical name and Brite Bleach® is its trade name. Through the use of the CAS number, you can look up additional product information in a variety of sources, such as textbooks on toxicology, found at your local library. Information may also be provided on ingredient concentration levels that could produce a health hazard.
Because toxic substances have different effects on different species, researchers usually are conservative in their estimates of the effect a substance will have on humans. Second, TLVs are intended for the 8- hour workday per 40-hour workweek, and do not apply to individuals who work longer shifts or to those who live and work in the same environment. Vapors heavier than air (toluene is 3.2) accumulate in low areas where they may pose health hazards to small children and pets, and may create fire hazards.
Products with wide flammable limits (such as ethyl ether, 1.9-36) may ignite either near or far from an ignition source, while products with narrow flammable limits may ignite only near the ignition source. This type of reaction, under controlled conditions, is commonly used to produce plastics and usually requires heat or a catalyst.
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If a polymerization hazard exists, specific storage instructions and the shelf life of the chemical should be listed. This section also provides information that might not be listed elsewhere on the MSDS, such as handling and storage information, and cleaning or disposing of contaminated clothing. The LC50 is the lethal airborne concentration that will kill 50 percent of the test animals when administered in a single exposure in a specific time period, usually one to four hours.
Finally, there are some substances known to be toxic that have no TLVs because of insufficient data to quantify the risk from exposure.
Fast-evaporating solvents can release hazardous amounts of vapors into the air quickly and should only be used in well-ventilated areas and with appropriate safety equipment.
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