Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provide valuable information on chemicals as well as procedures for handling and working with a substance safely. The MSDS includes information such as physical data (boiling point, flash point, etc.), health effects, toxicity, first aid, storage, disposal, personal protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures.
Typical information present in an MSDS: As described in the OSHA Hazard Communication standard and using the Form 174 format, the following information is required. No items may be left blank.
Chemical Identity: The identity of the substance as it appears on the label.
Section I. Manufacturer's Name and Contact Information
Manufacturer's name, address, telephone number and emergency telephone number. Date the MSDS was prepared and an optional signature of the preparer.
Section II. Hazardous Ingredients/Identity Information
Lists the hazardous components by chemical identity and other common names. Includes OSHA PEL.
(Permissible Exposure Limit), ACGIH TLV (Threshold Level Value) and other recommended exposure limits. Percentage listings of the hazardous components is optional.
Section III. Physical/Chemical Characteristics
Boiling point, vapor pressure, vapor density, specific gravity, melting point, evaporation rate, solubility in water, physical appearance and odor.
Section IV. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data
Flash point (and method used to determine it), flammability limits, extinguishing media, special firefighting procedures, unusual fire and explosion hazards.
Section V. Reactivity Data
Stability, conditions to avoid, incompatibility (materials to avoid), hazardous decomposition or byproducts, hazardous polymerization (and conditions to avoid).
Section VI. Health Hazard Data
Routes of entry (inhalation, skin, ingestion), health hazards (acute = immediate and chronic = build up over time), carcinogenicity (NTP, IARC monographs, OSHA regulated), signs and symptoms of exposure, medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure, emergency and first aid procedures.
Section VII. Precautions for Safe Handling and Use
Steps to be taken in case material is released or spilled, waste disposal method, precautions to be taken in handling or storage, other precautions.
Section VIII. Control Measures
Respiratory protection (specify type), ventilation (local, mechanical exhaust, special or other), protective gloves, eye protection, other protective clothing or equipment, work/hygienic practices.
The best place to get a Material Safety Data Sheet is from the original manufacturer, but the following links may help you as well:
- SIRI MSDS Index
- Cornell MSDS
- Mallinckrodt Baker MSDS SIte
- Fisher Scientific
- Links to over 60 internet sites for MSDS compiled by the University of Kentucky
- MSDS Online
- MSDS Exchange
- VWR Scientific Product
- Hazardous Chemical Information