What is an MSDS?MSDS is the acronym for Material Safety Data Sheet. In manufacturing or processing where chemicals are used, customers purchasing products are entitled to know safety and non-safety features of chemicals used in products.
In the U.S., these are mandatory for products that have potential to cause illness or injury to humans, animals or the environment.
MSDS OriginsIn most companies that produce products using raw or synthetic materials, an MSDS originates from the "recipe" used to create the product. For example, in water flocculants, an MSDS is created after a mass balance sheet and certificate of analysis are provided by R&D and QA/QC departments who create and test all products for safety and effectiveness of use.
Next, data contained in these documents are transferred to a standard MSDS form under OSHA Regulation 3514 which outlines mandatory information that must be contained in the MSDS.
The format of an MSDS begins with information on properties in a specific product. For example, an MSDS for ingredients used to make paints would contain names of raw materials used to manufacture particular types of paints.
The MSDS would also include any hazardous properties such as flammability, absorption in human skin or through inhalation and corrosive properties.
The actual format of the MSDS includes:Section I - Identification of the product and company name creating it
- Basic product use
- Emergency telephone number and emergency contact name
- Chemical name, class and synonym(s)
- Product creation date
- MSDS author
- Composition and Product Ingredients
- Chemical identification and CAS number (Chemical Abstract Service)
- Ingredient data such as chemical concentration, volume and weights
Limits of exposureSection III
- Hazard Identification
- Potential path of exposure
- Hazard to human organs
- Exposure severity
Signs and symptoms of exposureThere are additional sections to MSDS sheets that further define chemical properties, reactivity and chemical stability, toxicological and ecological data, proper disposal and transportation to disposal site and regulatory compliance information.
How to Read an MSDS Sheet
It's important to note that some products contain more than one chemical. In this case, more than one MSDS is issued for each chemical component. MSDS are written in clear, easy to understand terminology.
How to Get an MSDS
Whenever you purchase a product, even simple household cleaning products, you have the right to request MSDS sheets from the manufacturer of the product. These are provided upon request. In some cases, an MSDS may accompany the product when it is packaged.