• Home
  • how to read product labels and safety data sheets

How-To: Read Product Labels & Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

EDVOTEK® TIPS: Reading Product Labels & Safety Data Sheets Background:

In March 2012, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or OSHA) adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, or GHS. This agreement standardized the way that companies communicate information about chemical hazards from their products. The GHS provides guidelines on how companies classify a chemical’s physical, environmental, and health hazards. It also defines a system to guide manufacturers on effective communication regarding these chemical hazards, and ways to advise users on safe handling. This hazard reporting system applies companies producing pharmaceuticals, chemicals, pesticides, and cleaning supplies. The target audiences for GHS include production workers, lab workers, emergency responders, and consumers.

Safety Data Sheets (or SDSs) are comprehensive written documents that communicate the hazards associated with each product in depth. They provide the detailed information we need to safely handle chemicals in the laboratory. Each resource includes standardized signal words, pictograms, and precautionary statements. Each section of the SDS explain the hazards of the chemical products in a clear and concise manner. These simplified documents help reduce confusion, and to ensure that products are used in a safe way.

Safety Data Sheets can be found on our website.

Section 1:

Includes identifying information for the chemical and the manufacturer. This includes the chemical’s name and product number, and the manufacturer’s name, address, and phone number.

Section 2:

Highlights all hazards regarding the chemical. This includes signal words, pictograms, and hazard statements.

Section 3:

Includes information on chemical ingredients, including the chemical name, the common name, and the Chemical Abstract Service (or CAS) number. For mixtures, this section provides information for all chemicals, along with the relative percentages. Manufactures can protect chemical formulations that are trade secrets, but they must still declare hazards and concentrations.

Section 4:

Covers first aid measures to take if there is an unexpected exposure to the chemical. This section covers important symptoms and effects (both acute and delayed) and required treatment.

Section 5:

Details any potential chemical hazards from fire and lists suitable fire extinguishing techniques and equipment.

Section 6:

Describes accidental release measures, including proper techniques for clean up after chemical spills. This includes emergency procedures, proper personal protective equipment, or PPE, and the necessary protocol for containment and clean up.

Section 7:

Describes safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities with other chemicals. After receiving your chemicals, you’ll need to know how to store them.

Section 8:

Describes exposure limits, threshold limit values, and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the manufacturer preparing the SDS. This section also includes appropriate engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Section 9:

Describes the physical and chemical properties associated with the product. This includes appearance, odor, pH, solubility, and more if available.

Section 10:

Describes a chemical’s stability and possibility of hazardous reactions. This includes how chemicals react when stored, and when mixed with other chemicals.

Section 11:

Provides information about a chemical’s toxicology, or the effects of the chemical on living creatures. This includes the routes of exposure, a description of symptoms (both acute and chronic), and numerical measures of toxicity like LD50 and LC50.

Section 12:

Lists the chemical’s effects on the environment if released. Most times, this refers to very large quantities, like a tank or a barrel.

Section 13:

Outlines general considerations for proper disposal of your chemicals. However, it is important to discuss with this your chemical hygiene officer to make sure that you are following state, local, and institutional guidelines.

Section 14:

Provides transportation information for suppliers as they ship products by air, land, or sea.

Section 15:

Regulatory information, provides additional safety, health or environmental regulations for a product that is not mentioned in any other section.

Section 16:

Comprises any additional information, including the date of preparation or last revision, and disclaimers.

Informational Video:

Printer-Friendly Reading Product Labels & Safety Data Sheets PDF