What is a Material Safety Data Sheet?
A Material Safety Data Sheet, often referred to by its acronym MSDS, is a detailed
informational document, prepared by the manufacturer or importer of a hazardous
chemical, that describes the physical and chemical properties of the chemical product.
OSHA requires that a MSDS be available for every hazardous substance or product used
in the workplaces.
Information included in a Material Safety Data Sheet aids in the selection of personal
protective equipment (PPE), helps employers and employees understand the potential
health and physical hazards of a chemical and describes how to respond effectively to
It should be noted that the health and safety guidance in the Material Safety Data Sheet
often addresses the worst case situation which would be more relevant to a major
industrial accident or tank car spill, than to quantities of chemicals used in a laboratory or
Two types of MSDS' are currently being used in the United States and Canada; the older
9 (or 10) section OSHA MSDS, and the more recent 16 section ANSI (American
National Standards Institute) style. The newer 16 section MSDS is more organized,
making it easier to locate needed information, particularly in an emergency.
Note: Manufacturers may withhold certain information deemed to be proprietary
(including hazardous ingredients) on a Material Safety Data Sheet if the information is
considered a trade secret. However, an employer has a legal right to obtain this
information from the manufacturer, to evaluate the potential health risk if potential
overexposure or adverse health effects are suspected.
Information found in a 16 Section ANSI style MSDS
Section I - Information identifying the manufacturer and the product:
• Manufacturer's name, address and telephone number.
• Number to call in case of emergency involving product.
• Chemical name and synonyms.
• Trade name, common names and synonyms.
• Chemical family and formula.
• CAS# (Chemical Abstract Service) for pure materials.
• Date the MSDS was prepared.
Section II - Hazardous Ingredients:
Describes ingredients contained in the product, the percentages, and exposure limits
when appropriate. All hazardous chemicals which comprise 1% or greater of the mixture
will be identified. Carcinogens will be listed if their concentrations are 0.1% or greater. If
a component is not listed, it has been judged to be non-hazardous or is considered
proprietary information by the manufacturer. These ingredients may include:
• Pigments, catalysts, vehicles, solvents, and additives.
• Base metals, alloys, metallic coatings, fillers, hazardous mixtures of other liquids.
• Solids or gases.
Additionally, this section lists Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) and Threshold Limit
• OSHA PEL - either a time weighted average limit for an 8-hour day or a
maximum concentration exposure limit for the items on the OSHA list. In ppm
(Parts Per Million) or mg/m3 (Milligrams per Cubic Meter of air).
• ACGIH TLV - maximum exposure limits recommended by the American
Congress of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
Section III - Hazards of the Chemical:
• Health effects - target organs or systems adversely affected by overexposure.
• Carcinogenicity of material and test results.
• Acute and chronic effects.
Section IV - First Aid Measures:
• Treatment for exposure via inhalation, ingestion, eye contact, or absorption
through skin contact.
Section V - Fire and Explosion Hazard Data:
Based on the flash point and other fire and explosion data, the appropriate extinguishing
agent for fires involving the material will be listed. Special procedures may also be listed.
• Usually includes :
o Flashpoint - temperature at which the chemical vapor can be ignited.
o Auto ignition temperature - temperature at which chemical ignites
spontaneously in air
o Flammability limits - concentrations in air above and below which it
cannot burn. (Lower and Upper Explosive Limits) (UEL/LEL)
o Recommended extinguishing material (water, dry chemical, foam, halon,
o Unusual fire and explosion hazard or toxic fumes.
• Provides basic instructions for addressing fire situation.
• May include NFPA diamond markings.
Section VI - Accidental Release Measures:
• Procedures for cleaning up small and large spills.
• Cites specific regulations surrounding chemical spills.
Section VII - Handling and Storage:
• Provides information regarding safe storage of materials.
• Provides information regarding safe usage of materials.
Section VIII - Exposure Controls/Personal Protection:
• Types of protective equipment including gloves, clothing, eye protection and
• This section will indicate if a hood, glove box or extra ventilation is needed.
• Administrative controls such as replacement and periodic medical exams.
• Also will indicate type of shower or eyewash facility that should be available.
Section IX - Physical Properties:
• Boiling point
• Specific gravity
• Vapor pressure
• Percentage of volatiles
• Vapor density
• Evaporation rate
• Solubility in water
• Appearance and odor
Section X - Stability/Reactivity:
• Indicates stability of material, what causes instability, incompatibilities and if
hazardous decomposition products are possible.
• May also include conditions to avoid.
Section XI - Toxicological Information:
• Includes one or more of the following:
o LD50 (lethal dose 50) - lethal single dose (usually oral) in mg/kg
(milligrams of chemical per kilogram of animal body weight) of a
chemical that results in the death of 50% of a test animal population.
o LC50 (lethal concentration 50) - concentration dose expressed in ppm for
gases or micrograms of material per liter of air for dusts or mists that
results in the death of 50% a test animal exposure administered in one
• May include information about reproductive effects.
Section XII - Ecological Information:
• May be used to provide information on the effects the material may have on
plants and animals.
• Provides information regarding the environmental fate of the material, such as
bio-persistance or bio-accumulation.
Section XIII - Disposal Considerations:
• Desribes appropriate waste disposal methods.
Section XIV - Transport Information:
• Provides basic shipping requirements:
o Shipping name and classification
o Packaging requirements
o Quantity limitations
Section XV - Regulatory Information:
• Cites pertinent EPA and OSHA regulations.
Section XVI - Other Information
• Cites references used for construction of the document.
• May indicate author of document.
• May provide a legal disclaimer.