Section 4: Chemical and Hazard Identification

Section 4: Chemical and Hazard Identification

Chemical manufacturers are required to perform an assessment of the physical and health hazards of the chemicals they produce. This information must be made available in two places: the chemical label and the material safety data sheet (MSDS). Thus, the information found on the original container label and the MSDS may provide a great deal of information about the identity of the chemical constituents and their health and physical hazards.


Labels (top)

The manufacturer’s label should be kept intact. Do not intentionally deface or obscure the label or the hazard warnings until the container has been completely emptied. When a chemical is transferred from the original container into a secondary container for storage, the new container should be labeled with the name of the product, the chemical constituents and the primary hazard warnings.


Safety Data Sheets (top)

All chemical manufacturers or distributors are required to conduct a hazard evaluation of their products and include the information on a safety data sheet (SDS). The manufacturer or distributor is required to provide an SDS with the initial shipment of their products. Any SDS received by the laboratory must be maintained in a central location in the laboratory or the department. The Chemical Hygiene Plan outlines what to do with SDS received by a particular laboratory.

SDSs are sometimes difficult to interpret. For more information about understanding and using an SDS, see the Guide to Understanding SDS Information.

If an SDS is not on hand, check the EHS web page for connections to on-line sources of SDSs. If the SDS cannot be found, contact the manufacturer or distributor at the number listed on the container label and request an SDS. If the manufacturer does not provide one within a few days, contact EHS for assistance.


On-line Chemical Information Resources (top)

The SDS section of the EHS web page has a number of pointers to on-line collections of SDS and other chemical information sources. The Laboratory Safety page has even more pointers to chemical and laboratory safety information. 


Other Chemical Information Resources (top)

A number of books with chemical safety information are available through EHS or the University Library. The following is a partial listing – titles available through the University Library are identified with an asterisk (*):

Armour, Margaret-Ann, Hazardous Laboratory Chemical Disposal Guide, Lewis Publishers, NY, 1996

*Bretherick, I., Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards, 4th ed., CRC Press, 1990.

 British Cryogenic Council, Cryogenics Safety Manual, 3rd ed., 1991.

*Clayton, George and F. Clayton, editors, Patty’s Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Wiley, Interscience, 1991.

*Compressed Gas Association, Inc., Handbook of Compressed Gases, 3rd ed., VanNostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1990.

Forsberg, Krister and Lawrence Keith, Chemical Protective Clothing Performance Index, Wiley and Sons, NY, 1999

*Furr, A. Keith, Handbook of Laboratory Safety, 5th ed., The Chemical Rubber Company, 2000.

*Gosselin,et al, Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, 5th ed., Williams & Wilkins, 1984.

* Lewis, Richard J., The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, 12th ed., Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1993.

*Lewis, Richard J., Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials, 8th ed., Litton Educational Publishing Inc., 1992.

Meyer, Eugene, Chemistry of Hazardous Materials, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1977

*National Academy of Sciences, Prudent Practices for Handling Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories, 1995.

*National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, (published annually).

*National Research Council, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory, National Academy Press, Washington, DC 1995

Office of Technology Assessment Task Force, Reproductive Health

Hazards in the Workplace, Science Information Resource Center, Philadephia, PA 1988

Patnaik, Pradyot, Comprehensive Guide to Hazardous Properties of Chemical Substances, Wiley and Sons, NY, 1999

Pohanish, Richard, Rapid Guide to Chemical Incompatibilities, Wiley & Sons, NY, 1997

*U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards,            

Stull, Jeffrey, PPE Made Easy, Government Institutes, Rockville, MD, 1998