WHMIS: What You Need to Know
2. WHMIS Legislation and Exemptions
WHMIS extends through both Federal and Provincial legislative domains:-
1. Federal legislation - because it involves the sale and import of controlled products
(hazardous materials), and
2. Provincial legislation - once a controlled product enters a workplace, jurisdiction
over the product shifts from federal to provincial governments (except for
workplaces under federal jurisdiction, where the provisions of the amended
Canada Labour Code apply).
The federal legislation was enacted through the passage of Bill C-70 on June 30, 1987.
This Bill accomplishes the following:-
1. It applies the labelling and other information requirements of WHMIS to
suppliers of hazardous materials and establishes criteria for determining which
substances are deemed hazardous.
For this purpose the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) [see below] was amended
to apply the WHMIS labelling and MSDS provisions to materials which fall into
one or more of the clases of hazardous materials listed in Schedule II of the Act.
The materials included in these classes are known as "controlled products".
The Controlled Products Regulation (CPR) prescribes:
1. the detailed scientific criteria for determining whether or not a product
falls into one or more of the classes of controlled products,
2. the information which must be disclosed on labels, and MSDSs, and
3. the conditions under which certain controlled prodcuts are exempted from
the requirements covering labels and MSDSs.
The Ingredients Disclosure List (IDL) was established, to be used by suppliers
when preparing MSDSs; if a substance contains an ingredient appearing on this
list in concentrations at or above the level shown for that ingredient, the
ingredient must be named on the MSDS together with its percentage
concentration in the substance.
2. It allows manufacturers to protect legitimate confidential business information or
"trade secrets", without compromising the information system. The Hazardous
Material Information Review Act (HMIRA) is an entirely new law enacted to
perform this function.
The regulations made under the HMIRA establish the criteria against which the
validity of claims for trade secret protection will be decided.
3. It applies WHMIS to employers and employees in workplaces under the federal
labour jurisdiction by amending Part IV of the Canada Labour Code.
The workplace falls under provincial jurisdiction and is governed by the Occupational
Health and Safety Act.
This Act outlines the role of the employer, the supervisor and the employee in the
workplace. It places duties on these groups to ensure that the worksite is made a safe and
healthy place to work. The Act gives the worker the right to refuse unsafe work, the right
to know about hazards on the job and the right to representation on a Joint Health and
To implement WHMIS in Ontario, the legislature amended the Occupational Health adn
Safety Act (OSHA) by means of Bill 79, passed on June 29, 1987.
A WHMIS regulation, Ontario Reg. 644/88 (Oct 31st, 1988), based on the tripartite
model regulation, was adopted under the amended OHSA; this regulation sets out the
employer duties under WHMIS. Bill 79 (see below) also amended the act to cover
hazardous physical agents such as noise, vibration and radiation; so that the supplier and
employer provide appropriate information respecting the device which emits hazardous
An additional feature of the bill includes the requirement for workplace inventories; the
employer is required to develop and maintain an inventory of hazardous materials and
hazardous physical agents in the workplace.
Exemptions from WHMIS Legislation
The following products are exempt from the WHMIS legislation:-
wood or wood products;
tobacco or tobacco products;
products being transported if handled in accordance with the requirements of the
Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (Ontario) or the Transportation of
Dangerous Goods Act (Ontario);
Exemptions from WHMIS Labelling and Material Safety Data Sheet Requirements
The requirements for Material Safety Data Sheets (see Section 11] and Supplier Labels,
Laboratory Supply House Product Labels, and Laboratory Sample Labels (see Section
10) do not apply to the following:-
explosives within the meaning of the Explosives Act(Canada);
cosmetics, devices, drugs or food within the meaning of the Food and Drug Act
controlled products within the meaning of the Pest Control Products Act
prescribed substances within the meaning of the Atomic Energy Control Act
products, materials or substances packaged as consumer products and in
quantities normally used by the consuming public.
Note: Buyers/Users of these products must comply with all labelling requirements
prescribed within the above acts and regulations. Employers are still required to educated
employees regarding the hazards, safe handling, storage and disposal of such materials.
BILL C - 70
o Hazardous Products Act (HPA)
o Controlled Products Regulation (CPR)
o Ingredients Disclosure List (IDL)
o Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA)
o Part IV - Canada Labour Code
3. CHEMICAL HAZARDS
Chemical hazards may be described under three broad headings - flammability, reactivity
Flammable substances are those that readily catch fire and burn in air. A flammable
liquid does not itself burn; it is the vapours from the liquid that burn. For a liquid, the
flash point, auto-ignition temperature, explosive limits, vapour density and ability to
accumulate an electrostatic charge are important factors in determining the degree of fire
Reactive chemical hazards invariably involve the release of energy (heat) in relatively
high quantities or at a rapid rate. If the heat evolved in a reaction is not dissipated, the
reaction rate can increase until an explosion results.
Some chemicals decompose rapidly when heated. Light or mechanical shock can also
initiate explosive reactions. Some compounds are inherently unstable and can detonate
under certain conditions of pressure and temperature, while others react violently with
water or when exposed to air.
Contact with many chemicals can result in adverse health effects. The nature and
magnitude of toxic effects will depend on many factors including the nature of the
substance, route of exposure, magnitude of the dose, duration of exposure, and individual
4. Flammable Substances
Flammable substances are those gases, liquids and solids that will ignite and continue to
burn in air if exposed to a source of ignition.
Many flammable and combustible liquids and solids are volatile in nature; that is, they
evaporate quickly and are continually giving off vapours. The rate of evaporation varies
greatly from one liquid to another and increases with temperature. It is their vapours
combined with air, not the liquid or solids themselves, that ignite and burn. In many
instances, an increase in temperature creates a more hazardous condition because of the
increase in the rate at which vapours are evolved.
This is the lowest temperature of the liquid at which it gives off enough vapour to form
an ignitible mixture of vapour and air immediately above the liquid surface.
A liquid is classified as flammable or combustible depending on its flash point. A
flammable liquid has a flash point below 37.8 C while a combustible liquid has a flash
point greater than 37.8 C.
Example: Flash point of Acetone is - 17.8 C (*closed cup) and that of Aniline is 70.0 C
The lower the flash point, the greater the potential fire hazard.
Flammable (Explosive) Range
This is the range between the lowest explosive limit (LEL) and the upper explosive limit
The LEL is the lowest concentration of vapour in air which will burn or explode upon
contact with a source of ignition. Below the LEL, the mixture is too lean (i.e. there is
The UEL is the highest concentration of vapour in air which will burn or explode upon
contact with a source of ignition. Above the UEL, the mixture is too rich to burn (i.e.
there is insufficient oxygen).
The LEL and UEL are usually indicated by the percentage by volume of vapour in air.
Example - For diethyl ether, the LEL is 1.9% and the UEL is 36% by volume of air.
This range becomes wider with increasing temperature and in oxygen-rich atmospheres.
For most solvents the LEL lies in the range 1-5% in air and therefore good ventilation is
essential in order to minimize the risk of forming a flammable or explosive atmosphere
when such substances are used. However, it is significant that the LEL for most
substances is considerably greater than the recommended hygiene standards for the
concentration of vapour in the workroom air.
The autoignition temperature of a substance is the minimum temperature required to
initiate or cause self-sustained combustion, in the absence of a spark or flame.
1. A steam line or a glowing light bulb may ignite carbon disulphide (autoignition
temperature is 100 C).
2. Diethyl ether (autoignition temperature is 160 C) can be ignited by the surface of
a hot plate.
The vapour density is the ratio of the density of the gas or vapour to the density of air
(vapour density of air = 1). Generally, vapours from flammable liquids are denser than
air and thus tend to sink to ground level where they can spread over a large area.
Example:- Vapour density of ethyl alcohol is 1.59.
Sources of Ignition
A source of ignition represents a sufficiently high enough temperature to ignite a fuel.
Common sources of ignition include:- open flames, hot surfaces, static electricity,
smoking material, cutting and welding operations, radiant heat, frictional heat, electrical
and mechanical (frictional) sparks, spontaneous combustion, and heat-producing
Examples of generation of static electricity:-
1. A rapidly moving belt develops static electricity by coming in contact with the
pulley and then moving away from it.
2. Paper and cloth take on static charges when passing through machines.
3. Paint spraying generates static.
4. Static charges are produced by the flow of flammable liquids into or from tanks or
other containers through pipes, hose, or even air, or by pouring from one
container to another.
Static electricity accumulations sufficient to cause a spark can, however, be prevented by
grounding, bonding, or humidification. The danger of fire and explosion presented by
flammable liquids, generally, can be eliminated or minimized by strict observance of safe
storing, dispensing, and handling procedures.
5. Reactive Substances
Highly reactive chemicals can lead to reactions which involve the release of energy
(heat) in relatively high quantities or at a rapid rate. Reaction rates almost always
increase rapidly as the temperature increases. If the heat evolved in a reaction is not
dissipated, the reaction rate can increase until an explosion results.
Examples of reactive hazards:-
1. Some chemicals decompose when heated. The heat initiated decomposition of
some substances, such as certain peroxides is almost instantaneous. Organic
peroxides, are a special class of compounds that have unusual stability problems
that make them among the most hazardous substances normally handled in
2. Some substances can detonate as a result of contamination. Mixtures of perchloric
acid with a wide variety of materials, such as organic matter, can be highly
3. Light and mechanical shock can also be initators of explosive reactions. Hydrogen
and chlorine react explosively in the presence of light. Acetylides, ozides, organic
nitrates and many peroxides are examples of shock-sensitive materials. Organic
peroxides are a class of compounds even more shock sensitive than explosives
such as TNT or picric acid.
4. Other substances may form unstable substances during chemical operations or
prolonged storage (eg. certain ethers, alcohols and aldehydes can form
peroxides). For this reason bottles of materials prone to peroxidation should not
be kept for prolonged periods once they have been opened.
5. Some chemicals are inherently unstable and can detonate under certain conditions
of pressure and temperature (eg. acetylene).
6. There are materials that are highly reactive when exposed to air (eg. finely divided
metals:- calcium, metal hydrides:- potassium hydrides).
7. Other compounds may react violently with water (eg. alkaline earth metals:-
potassium, sodium). These compounds should therefore be handled under the
surface of a hydrocarbon solvent such as mineral oil or toluene.
8. Oxygen tanks -
Serious explosions have resulted from contact between oil and high-pressure
oxygen. Oil should not be used on connections to an oxygen cylinder.
9. Hazardous Polymerization:-
Polymerization is the process of forming a polymer by combining large numbers
of chemical units or monomers into long chains ( e.g.polyethylene from ethylene
or polystyrene from styrene). Uncontrolled polymerization can be extremely
hazardous. Some polymerization processes can release considerable heat or can
10. Incompatible chemicals:-
When storing, using or disposing of chemicals, care must be exercised to
minimize the consequences of accidental mixing of incompatibles by spillage or
breakage. Such contact could result in a serious explosion or the formation of
substances that are highly toxic or flammable or both.
Some incompatible groups include:-
o acids and bases
o flammables and toxics
o flammables and oxidizers
o oxidizers and reducers
Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals
There are many materials used in the workplace that can be hazardous. However, in order
for them to affect your health, they must contact the body or be absorbed into the body.
When assessing the potential health effects from working with a particular material it is
necessary to understand difference between "toxicity" and "hazard".
1. TOXICITY is the ability of a substance to produce an unwanted effect when the
chemical has reached a sufficient concentration at a certain site in the body.
The more toxic a material is, the smaller the amount of it necessary to be absorbed
before harmful effects are caused. The lower the toxicity, the greater the quantity
of it necessary to be absorbed. The toxicity of a chemical is generally measured
by experiments on animals (quite often rats). If it is measured in terms of the
amounts of material necessary to cause death in 50% of the test animals. These
values are called LD50 (lethal dose) or LC50 (lethal concentration), and are
usually given in weight of material per kg of body weight or airborne
concentration of material per set time period respectively.
2. HAZARD is the probability that this concentration in the body will occur.
Toxicity is an inherent property of the material. A material may be very toxic, but
not hazardous, if it is handled properly and is not absorbed into the body. On the
other hand, a material may have a very low toxicity, but be very hazardous.
1. An open container of an acid is much more hazardous than a closed container of
the same material.
2. Two liquids may possess the same degree of toxicity but present different degrees
One material may be non-irritating to the eyes and nose and odourless. The other
may be irritating to the eyes or respiratory system and possess a pungent odour.
The latter material, because of its warning properties presents a lesser degree of
In order for toxicants to affect the human system either they must cause damage to
external tissues, such as the skin or eyes, or they must be able to enter the body by some
Routes of Entry
There are three primary routes of entry into the body: ingestion, skin or eye absorption,
Ingestion:- This means taking a material into the body by mouth (swallowing). Ingestion
of toxic materials may occur as a result of eating in a contaminated work area.
Absorption- Substances that contact the eye and the skin may be either absorbed into the
body or cause local effects. For the majority of organic compounds, the contribution from
skin absorption to the total exposure should not be neglected.
Inhalation- This means taking a material into the body by breathing it in. In the lungs,
very tiny blood vessels are in constant contact with the air we breath in. As a result,
airborne contaminants can be easily absorbed through this tissue. In the occupational
environment, this is generally the most important route of entry.
Health Effects - Chronic vs Acute
Once a toxic substance has contacted the body it may have either acute (immediate) or
chronic (long term) effects.
Example: Spilling acid on your hand will cause immediate harm, i.e. a burn to the skin.
Exposure to asbestos or tobacco smoke may result in lung cancer after as much as twenty
years (this is a long term effect).
Exposure - Chronic vs Acute
Exposure can be classified as chronic or acute. In chronic exposures, the dose is delivered
at some frequency (daily or weekly usually) over a period of time. In acute exposures, the
dose is delivered in a single event and absorption is rapid. Usually, a chronic exposure
occurs at low concentration and acute exposure at high concentration.
Some materials may only cause harm if given acutely, not having any effect in the long
term. Other materials may not exhibit an effect in the short term, but may cause problems
after prolonged exposure.
Physiological Classification of Materials
This classification identifies toxic materials on the basis of biologic action.
Irritants - refers to some sort of aggravation of whatever tissue the material comes in
e.g. ammonia, nitrogen dioxide.
Asphyxiants - exert their effects through a depletion of oxygen to the tissues
e.g. - simple asphyxiants - carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, hydrogen
chemical asphyxiants - carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulphide.
Narcotics or Anaesthetics - the main toxic action is the depressant effect upon the
Central Nervous System.
e.g. - many organics, chloroform, xylene.
Systemic Poisons - the main toxic action includes the production of internal damage
e.g. Hepatotoxic agents - toxic effects produce liver damage. eg. carbon tetrachloride.
e.g. Nephrotoxic agents - toxic effects produce kidney damage eg. some halogenated
Carcinogens - agents/compounds that will induce cancer in humans.
e.g. benzene, arsenic, inorganic salts of chromium, nickel, beryllium.
Mutagens - agents that affect the cells of the exposed people in such a way that it may
cause cancer in the exposed individiual or an undesirable mutation to occur in some later
e.g. radiation, variety of chemical agents that alter the genetic message.
Teratogens - Agents or compounds that a pregnant woman takes into her body that
generate defects in the fetus
e.g. Thalidomide, possibly steroids
Sensitizers-Agents that may cause allergic or allergic-like responses to occur. After an
initial exposure to a substance an individual may become sensitized to that substance.
Subsequent exposures to the same substance, often at a much lower concentration than
before, produce an allergic response. This response may be a skin rash (dermatitis) or an
asthmatic-like attack, depending on the route of exposure.
e.g. cutting oils, isocyanates in polyurethane foam operations and paint spraying
operations, some laboratory solvents.
Exposure limits are established concentrations which, if not exceeded, will not generally
cause adverse effects to the worker exposed. However, because of wide variation in
individual susceptibility, a small percentage of workers may experience discomfort from
some substances at concentrations at or below the established limit; a smaller percentage
may be affected more seriously by aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
Exposure levels are intended for use as guidelines or recommendations in the control of
potential health hazards and are not fine lines between safe and unsafe exposures, nor are
they a relative index of toxicity.
The limits are based on industrial experience, and human and animal experimental
Exposure levels for many hazardous chemicals are included in the Regulation
respecting the Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents - made under
the Occupational Health & Safety Act of Ontario (O.Reg. 654/86). These are expressed
TWAEV - Time-Weighted Average Exposure Value: The average airborne concentration
of a biological or chemical agent to which a worker may be exposed in a work day or a
STEV - Short Term Exposure Value: The maximum airborne concentration of a chemical
or biological agent to which a worker may be exposed in any 15 minute period, provided
the TWAEV is not exceeded.
CEV - Ceiling Exposure Value: The maximum airborne concentration of a biological or
chemical agent to which a worker may be exposed at any time.
SKIN - This notation indicates that direct or airborne contact with the product may result
in significant absorption of the product through the skin mucous membranes or eyes.
Inclusion of this notation is intended to suggest that preventative action be taken against
absorption of the agent through these routes of entry.
Except in certain circumstances these levels must be achieved without workers being
required to wear and use personal protective equipment.
Note: The exposure limits listed on the MSDS may differ from the Ontario legal exposure
Other notable occupational exposure limits that one may encounter on a Material Data
Sheet (MSDS) are:-
1. Permissible Exposure Levels (PELs) of the USA Occupational Safety and Health
2. Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) of the American Conference of Governmental
Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Acute Exposure - a short-term exposure usually occurring at high concentration.
Acute Health Effect - an effect that develops either immediately or a short time after
Autoignition Temperature - the minimum temperature required to initiate or cause self-
sustained combustion, in the absence of a spark or flame.
Biohazardous Infectious Material - a material that contains organisms and the toxins
produced by these organisms that have been shown to cause disease or are believed to
cause disease in either humans or animals.
Boiling Point - the temperature at which a liquid changes from a liquids to a gas, at
normal atmospheric pressure.
Carcinogens - agents/compounds that may induce cancer in humans.
CAS Registry Number - a number assigned to a material by the Chemical Abstracts
Service (CAS) to provide a single unique identifier.
Chemical Formula - sometimes called the molecular formula, indicates the elements that
make up a chemical.
Chemical Name - a proper scientific name for the active ingredient of a product.
Chronic Exposure - a long-term exposure, usually occurring at low concentrations.
Chronic Health Effects - an effect that appears a long time after exposure.
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution - the ratio of the solubility of the chemical in an
oil to its solubility in water.
Combustible Liquid - a liquid which has a flash point above 37.8 C.
Compressed Gas - a material which is a gas at normal room temperature (20 C) and
pressure but is packaged as a pressurized gas, dissolved gas or gas liquified by
compression or refrigeration.
Condensation - the process of reducing from one form to another denser form such as
steam to water.
Controlled Products - Under the Controlled Products Regulation, a controlled product is
defined as a material, product or substance which is imported or sold in Canada and
meets the criteria for one or more of the following classes: -
Class A - Compressed Gas
Class B - Flammable and Combustible Material
Class C - Oxidizing Material
Class D - Poisonous and Infectious Material
Class E - Corrosive Material
Class F - Dangerously Reactive Material
Corrosive Material - a material that can attack (corrode) metals or cause permanent
damage to human tissues such as skin and eyes on contact.
Cryogenics - materials which exist at extremely low temperatures, such as liquid
Dangerously Reractive Materials - materials that may undergo vigorous condensation,
decomposition or polymerization. They may react violently under conditions of shock or
increase in pressure or temperature. They may also react vigorously with water or water
vapour to release a toxic gas.
Decomposition - the breakdown of a substance, often due to heat, decay or other effect,
with the release of other compounds such as vapours or gases that may be flammable or
Density - the weight of a material in a given volume. It is usually given in grams per
Dilution Ventilation - dilution of contaminated air with uncontaminated air in a general
area, room or building for the purposes of health hazard or nuisance control, and/or for
heating and cooling.
Dose - amount of the agent that has entered the body through the various routes of entry.
Evaporation Rate - the rate at which a liquid changes to vapour at normal room
Explosive (Flammable) Limits - the lower explosive (flammable) limit (LEL) is the
lowest concentration of vapour in air which will burn or explode upon contact with a
source of ignition. The upper explosive (flammable) limit (UEL) is the highest
concentration of vapour in air which will burn or explode upon contact with a source of
Explosive (Flammable) Range - the range between the lower explosive limit (LEL) and
the upper explosive limit (UEL).
Exposure Limits- established concentrations which, if not exceeded, will not generally
cause adverse effects to the worker exposed. Exposure limits differ in name and meaning
depending on origin. For example:-
1. The exposure levels for the hazardous chemicals that are included in the
Regulation respecting the Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents -
made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario, are expressed as
TWAEV Time-Weighted Average Exposure Value: The average airborne
concentration of a biological or chemical agent to which a worker may be
exposed in a work day or a work week.
STEV Short Term Exposure Value: - The maximum airborne concentration of a
chemical or biological agent to which a worker may be exposed in any 15 minute
period, provided the TWAEV is not exceeded.
CEV Ceiling Exposure Value: The maximum airborne concentration of a
biological or chemical agent to which a worker may be exposed at any time.
SKIN: This notation indicates that direct or airborne contact with the product may
result in significant absorption of the product through the skin, mucous
membranes or eyes. Inclusion of this notation is intended to suggest that
preventative action be taken against absorption of the agent through these routes
2. Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) are exposure guidelines developed by the
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). They
have been adopted by several Canadian governments and others as their legal
limits. They are expressed as follows:-
TLV-TWA Threshold Limit Value - Time-Weighted Average: The time-weighted
average concentration for a normal 8 hour work day and a 40 hour work week, to
which nearly all workers may be repeatedly exposed, day after day, without
TLV-STEL Threshold Limit Value - Short Term Exposure Limit: a 15 minute
time-weighted average exposure which should not be exceeded at any time during
a work day even if the 8 hr TWA is within the TLV. Exposures at the STEL
should not be repeated more than 4 times a day and there should be at least 60
minutes between successive exposures at the STEL.
TLV-C Threshold Limit Value - Ceiling: the concentration that should not be
exceeded during any part of the working exposure.
Other exposure limits include the Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) which are
legal exposure limits in the United States.
Flammable Limits - "See Explosive Limits".
Flammable Substance - one that will readily catch fire and continue to burn in air if
exposed to a source of ignition.
1. Flammable Aerosol- a material that is packaged in an aerosol container which
can release a flammable material.
2. Flammable Gas- a gas which can readily catch fire and continue to burn.
3. Flammable Liquid - a material that gives off a vapour which can readily catch
fire and continue to burn. A flammable liquid has a flashpoint below 37.8 C.
4. Flammable Solid- a material which can readily catch fire and continue to burn
vigorously and persistently. This may occur from friction, absorbing moisture,
from spontaneous chemical change, or by retaining heat from manufacturing or
5. Reactive Flammable Material- a material which is a dangerous fire risk because
it can react readily with air or water.
Flashback - this occurs when a trail of flammable material is ignited by a distant source
of ignition. The flame then travels back along the trail of gas, vapour or aerosol to its
Flashpoint - the lowest temperature of a liquid at which it gives off enough vapour to
form an ignitable mixture of vapour and air immediately above the liquid surface.
Freezing Point - the temperature at which a liquid becomes a solid, at normal
Hazard- the potential for harmful effects.
Hazardous Combustion Products - chemicals which may be formed when a material
burns. These chemicals may be flammable, toxic or have other hazards.
Hazardous Decomposition Products - formed when a material decomposes (breaks
down) because it is unstable, or reacts with materials such as water or oxygen in air.
Hazardous Ingredient - Under the Hazardous Products Act, a chemical must be listed in
the Hazardous Ingredients section of a MSDS if:-
it meets the criteria for a controlled product;
it is on the Ingredient Disclosure List;
there is no toxicological information available; or
the supplier has reason to believe it might be hazardous.
Hazardous Polymerization - Polymerization is a process of forming a polymer by
combining large numbers of chemical units or monomers into long chains (polyethylene
from ethylene or polystyrene from styrene). Uncontrolled polymerization can be
extremely hazardous. Some polymerization processes can release considerable heat or
can be explosive.
Ingestion - means taking a material into the body by mouth (swallowing).
Inhalation - means taking a material into the body by breathing it in.
Irritant - some sort of aggravation of whatever tissue the material comes in contact with.
LC50 - the concentration of a material in air which causes death in 50% of a group of test
animals. The material is inhaled over a set period of time, usually 4 hrs. LC stands for
LD50 - the weight of material which causes the death in 50% of a group of test animals.
It is usually expressed in weight of material per weight of test animal. LD stands for
LEL (Lower Explosive Limit) - See "Explosive Limits".
Local Exhaust Ventilation - involves the capture of pollutants at the source.
Material Causing Immediate and Serious Toxic Effects - classified under "Poisonous
and Infectious Material" as toxic or very toxic based on information such as the LD50 or
Material Causing Other Toxic Effects - classified under "Poisonous and Infectious
Material" as a material causing toxic effects such as skin or respiratory sensitization,
carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, etc.
Melting Point - the temperature at which a solid material becomes a liquid.
Mutagen - an agent that affects the genes or cells of the exposed people in such a way
that it may cause cancer in the exposed individual or an undesirable mutation to occur in
some later generation.
NA Number - See "UN number".
Odour Threshold - the airborne concentration, usually in part per million, at which an
odour becomes noticeable.
Oxidizing Material - gives up oxygen easily or can readily oxidize other materials.
Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) - legal limits in the U.S.A. set by the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
pH - a measure of the acidity or basicity (alkalinity) of a material when dissolved in
Polymer - a natural or man-made material formed by combining units, called monomers,
into long chains.
Polymerization - a process of forming a polymer by combining large numbers of
chemical units or monomers into long chains.
Parts Per Million (ppm) - represents the concentration of gases or vapour in air. For
example, 1 ppm of a gas means that 1 unit of the gas is present for every 1 million units
Sensitization - the development, over time, of an allergic reaction to a chemical.
Solubility - the ability of a material to dissolve in water or another liquid.
Solvent - a material which is capable of dissolving another chemical.
Specific Gravity - the density of a liquid compared to the density of an equal amount of
Stability - the ability of a material to remain unchanged in the presence of heat, moisture
Teratogen - agents or compounds that a pregnant woman takes into her body that
generate defects in the fetus.
TLV - See "exposure Limits".
Toxicity - ability of a substance to cause harmful effects.
Trade Name - the name under which a product is commercially known.
TWA - See "Exposure Limits".
UEL (Upper Explosive Limits) - See "Explosive Limits".
UN Number - a four digit number assigned to a potentially hazardous material or class of
materials. UN (United Nations) numbers are internationally recognized and are used by
fire fighter and other emergency response personnel for identification of materials during
transportation emergencies. NA (North American) numbers are assigned by Transport
Canada and the US Department of Transport to materials they consider hazardous and to
which a UN number has not been assigned.
Vapour - a gaseous form of a material which is normally solid or liquid at room
temperature and pressure.
Vapour Density - the density of a vapour compared to the density of an equal amount of
Vapour Pressure - the pressure of a vapour in equilibrium with its liquid or solid form.
Ventilation - the movement of air.
Volatility - the ability of a material to evaporate.
As previously indicated, exposure to toxic chemicals can seriously affect health.
However, if appropriate precautions are taken, these chemicals can be handled safely.
There are a variety of methods which provide protection from such exposures. The design
of the workplace, the work practices and hygiene practices followed and the protective
equipment worn, may all be essential in controlling exposure to toxic substances. The
protective measures which must be considered, include:-
Ideally, the toxic substance used or generated should be eliminated. Since this is not
always possible, substituting a less hazardous substance can often be effective in
reducing work exposure to toxic substances.
eg. Is it necessary to use benzene for cleaning; usually, 1,1,1-trichloroethane will do the
job just as well.
2. Engineering Controls
Hazardous processes or equipment can be segregated into separate rooms or areas or put
in enclosures so as not to contaminate the whole workplace.
eg. Operator booths are common in crusher operations (extremely dusty environments),
crane cabs in hazardous areas, etc.
b. Design or Change of Process
Often simple considerations can significantly improve conditions.
eg. packaging of exact amounts of material to add to a process rather than pouring,
pumping, scooping, etc. from a bulk supply
eg. grouping of hazardous operations for better control.
c. Local Suppression
Wetting or pelletizing of dusty materials or blanketing of toxic liquids.
eg. Use of damp mopping in contaminated, dusty areas
eg. Use of plastic balls or surface active agents in liquid tanks such as plating tanks.
Ventilation is used to control airborne hazards in the form of dusts, fibres, mists, fumes,
gases, and vapours. The two methods of applying ventilation to provide contaminant
control are:- general dilution ventilation and local exhaust.
Dilution Ventilation - dilution of contaminated air with uncontaminated air in a general
area, room, or building for the purpose of health hazard, nuisance control, and/or heating
Local exhaust - involves the capture of pollutants at the source.
Air movement is achieved by either natural or mechanical methods such as fans, and the
choice or type of ventilation depends on such factors as:
1. Toxicity or nuisance of the contaminant
2. Method and rate of generation
3. Physical state of the contaminant
4. Relative costs of different types of ventilation.
3. Work Practices and Hygiene Practices
Work practices, procedures and hygiene practices supplement engineering controls.
These practices represent on the job activities that reduce the potential for exposure to
toxic substances and include:-
Posting warning signs and labelling hazardous materials
Preventive maintenance of equipment.
Keeping records of employee exposure and making them available to employees
Providing emergency facilities, such as eyewash fountains and deluge showers,
Prohibiting eating, drinking or smoking in areas where materials in use are toxic
by ingestion or may be inhaled through smoking.
Maintaining good housekeeping - good housekeeping provides for the removal of
hazardous materials that might otherwise become airborne. In addition, a clean
workplace tends to foster good work habits that probably reduce accumulations.
Maintaining personal Cleanliness - clean work clothes, regular showers and
frequent washing will reduce skin contamination that may lead to skin absorption,
dermatitis or ingestion. A further consideration for personel cleanliness is the
possibility of an individual carrying toxic material home on work clothes or on
the person and in turn placing the family at risk.
Training - Individuals should be well aware of the hazards of the materials being
used and the precautions to be observed. An informed worker can make a rational
decision to accept such work and to wisely use the equipment provided for his
4. Personal Protective Devices
These include protective glasses and goggles, face shields, protective clothing
(laboratory coats and gloves), skin creams, and respirators. It should be noted that
respirators in particular, are not intended to be used as a primary means of control in lieu
of other methods.
Two essential elements of protective equipment use are:-
1. The choice of the proper type.
For example, when choosing respirators and hearing protectors, the factors to be
o type of hazard
o extent of exposure
o individual preference
o individual fit
o ease of supervision
o legislative requirements
2. The provision of an adequate maintenance program for the equipment.
A maintenance program for the equipment must be in the care of a qualified
person and will include, at regular intervals:-
a) Inspection and Repair - All parts should be checked to be certain that
materials have not deteriorated, valves are working, etc. As necessary, equipment
must be replaced or repaired. With respirators, new filters or cartridges must be
made available to workers at all times. With self contained breathing apparatus
cylinders must recharged and all mechanisms checked.
b) Cleaning - Equipment must be cleaned, sterilized and dried after each use.
While it is preferable for workers to have their own personal equipment, because
of cost and other considerations, particularly with self-contained air supplied units
sharing may be necessary. In such cases cleaning and sterilizing becomes very
c) Storage - Equipment should be stored in clean, dry locations protected against
extremes of temperature, humidity and sunlight.
5. Other Safe Practices and Emergency Provisions
a) Leak and Chemical Spill Procedure
Prompt action is necessary to reduce and eliminate hazards created by a chemical
1. Wear proper personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, respirators) as specified
in the MSDS.
2. Absorb or neutralize liquids.
3. Sweep solids into a container.
4. Ventilate area to dispel vapours if required.
5. Wash affected area with soap and water or detergent.
6. All materials used in cleanup, including absorbed liquids are to be
disposed as hazardous waste. Label waste appropriately.
If proper equipment is not available to safely contain and decontaminate a spill -
evacuate the area and contact the appropriate personnel.
Section 4.3 of the University of Toronto Health and Safety Policy Manual
details chemical spill procedures. Also, consult the pertinent MSDS.
b) Waste Disposal
The disposal of hazardous chemicals is regulated by Ontario environmental
legislation. Generators of hazardous wastes are responsible for properly
packaging and labelling such wastes.
Section 4.2 of the University of Toronto Health and Safety Policy Manual
details chemical waste disposal procedures. Also, consult the pertinent MSDS.
c) Storage Requirements
The hazard potential presented by flammable, reactive and toxic substances can
also be reduced by adherence to safe storage procedures.
o Quantities of these substances should be kept to a minimum.
o All containers must be labelled with the names of the contents and
appropriate hazard warnings
o In laboratories or stockrooms, care should be taken to avoid exposure of
chemicals to heat or direct sunlight.
o Always observe precautions regarding the proximity of incompatible
substances (e.g. do not store alphabetically - store in compatible groups).
o Highly toxic chemicals should be stored in ventilated storage areas in
unbreakable chemically resistant secondary containers.
o Properly labelled portable safety cans should be used for handling small
quantities of flammable liquids. When not in use these portable cans
should be kept in enclosed fire-resistant cabinets. Larger quantities of
solvents should be stored in correctly designed ventilated stores.
o Flammable liquids should not be stored in laboratory refridgerators unless
the unit is an approved, explosion-proof, or laboratory-safe type.
9. Hazard Symbols
The WHMIS system groups hazardous materials into six classes or categories based on
the type of hazard which they represent. These materials are also called controlled
products. Each category has its own hazard symbol and it is important that the worker be
able to recognize these.
A - COMPRESSED GAS
A compressed gas is a material which is a gas at normal room temperature (20 C) and
pressure but is packaged as a pressured gas, dissolved gas or gas liquified by compression
The hazard from these materials, aside from their chemical nature, arises from sudden
loss of integrity of the container. A compressed gas cylinder is usually quite heavy and
when ruptured can become a projectile with the potential to cause significant damage.
Acetylene and oxygen are examples of compressed gases.
B - FLAMMABLE AND COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL
Flammable or combustible materials will ignite and continue to burn if exposed to a
flame or source of ignition.
Materials are classified as a flammable gas, flammable aerosol, flammable liquid,
combustible liquid, flammable solid, or reactive flammable material. Methane, acetone,
aniline, and lithium hydride are examples of flammable materials.
C - OXIDIZING MATERIAL
An oxidizing material may or may not burn itself, but will release oxygen or another
oxidizing substance, and thereby causes or contributes to the combustion of another
Ozone, chlorine, and nitrogen dioxide are oxidizing materials. These chemicals wil
support a fire and are highly reactive.
D - POISONOUS AND INFECTIOUS MATERIAL
D1- Materials Causing Immediate and Serious Toxic Effects
These materials may be classified as toxic or very toxic based on information such as
LD50 or LC50.
Examples: Styrene, hydrogen cyanide are very toxic substances.
D2 - Materials Causing Other Toxic Effects
A pure substance or mixture that may be any one of the following: a carcinogen,
teratogen, reproductive toxin, respiratory tract sensitizer, irritant or chronic toxic hazard.
Examples: Asbestos causes cancer, ammonia is an irritant.
D3 - Biohazardous Infectious Material
This classification includes any organisms and the toxins produced by these organisms
that have been shown to cause disease or are believed to cause disease in either humans
or animals. For example, a blood sample containing the Hepatitis B virus is a
biohazardous infectious material. It may cause hepatitis in persons exposed to it.
E - CORROSIVE MATERIAL
Corrosive materials can attack (corrode) metals or cause permanent damage to human
tissues such as the skin and eyes on contact. Burning, scarring, and blindness may result
from skin or eye contact.
Corrosive materials may also cause metal containers or structural materials to become
weak and eventually to leak or collapse.
Ammonia, fluorine, and hydrochloric acid are examples of corrosive substances.
F - DANGEROUSLY REACTIVE MATERIAL
Dangerously reactive materials may undergo vigorous polymerization, decomposition or
condensation. They may react violently under conditions of shock or an increase in
pressure or temperature. They may also react vigorously with water to release a toxic gas.
Ozone, hydrazine, and benzoyl peroxide are examples of dangerously reactive materials.
Labelling of controlled products is a basic requirement of the WHMIS system. Labelling
requirements differ depending on whether the containers are supplier or workplace
containers; whether the containers contain laboratory products, laboratory samples for
analysis or non-laboratory products; and the size of the containers. The various labelling
criteria are outlined below.
1. Supplier Labels
Suppliers must affix a label to containers of controlled products they supply. This label
contains very detailed information on the product. Legislation requires that the labels on
containers from suppliers holding 10 kg or more of a controlled product, or containing
hazardous materials that do not fall into one of the categories on the following pages,
display the following:
1. Both official languages
2. A distinctive WHMIS border
3. Material identifier or product name - this is a designation or identification of a
material, including any of the following: - the common name, chemical name,
trade name, generic name, brand name, code name or code number.
4. Supplier's name and address
5. Reference to a material safety data sheet
6. WHMIS hazard symbols
and where the container holds 100 millilitres or more of a controlled product the
label must also include:-
7. Risk phrases - these must be appropriate to the class of material. Examples are
8. Precautionary measures - these are precautions to be taken when using or being
exposed to the product. Examples are given below.
9. First aid measure - these are statements that indicate the immediate first aid
measures that can be taken by the victim or other persons. These statements relate
only to acute hazards and not to chronic hazards.
2. Workplace Labels
2A Workplace Labels - General
These are required for chemicals used in the workplace (other than in the laboratory) that
are not in their original supplier-labelled containers. This label does not need as much
information as the supplier label. The following things are necessary:
material identifier or product name
reference to a material safety data sheet
first aid measures
2B Workplace Decanted Products
Decanted products are materials that have been taken from one container and put in
another container for short term use. This new container does not need a label if:
the container is portable and has been filled from a container to which a supplier
or workplace label has been affixed; AND
the material is under the control of and is used exclusively by the employee who
filled the protable container; AND
the container is used only during the shift in which the container was filled; AND
the contents of the portable container are clearly identified; OR
if all of the product is for immediate use.
e.g. workplace lables ae required on portable flammable storage cans whose contents
will not be used up in a short time period.
3 Laboratory Labels
3A Laboratory Supply House Container
For products containers originating from a laboratory supply house, that are intended to
be used solely in a laboratory and are of a capacity of less than 10 kg, the labels must
reference to MSDS
first aid measures
3B Laboratory Container
Products intended solely for use, analysis, testing or evaluation in a laboratory that are in
containers other than the ones received from the supplier. The products are not to be
removed from the laboratory. The labels must include: -
3C Samples for Analysis
i) Laboratory samples that are produced solely for evaluation, analysis, or testing within a
laboratory and remain under the control of the researcher producing the chemical. The
products are not removed from the laboratory. The labels must include: -
(ii) Products that are supplied solely for analysis, testing or evaluation in a laboratory.
The requirements apply to containers holding less than 10 kg. The lables must include:-
chemical or generic name of any hazardous ingredient
supplier emergency telephone number
the statement:" Hazardous Laboratory Sample. For hazard information or in an
emergency, call [emergency telephone number]".
"Laboratory Sample" means a sample of a controlled product that is intended solely to be
tested in a laboratory but does not included a controlled product that is to be used
by the laboratory for testing other products, materials or substances, or
for educational or demonstration pruposes.
Examples of Risk Phrases
Flammable and Combustible Material
In use, may form explosive vapour-air mixture
May form flammable dust-air mixture
Contact with water liberates flammable gas
Spontaneously flammable in air
Risk of explosion by shock, friction, fire or other sources of ignition
Contact with combustible material may cause fire
Explosive when mixed with commbustible material
Poisonous and Infectious Material
Very Toxic Material
Danger of very serious irreversible effects
Rapidly absorbed through the skin
May cause delayed lung injury
May cause death
Danger of irreversible effects
Danger of cumulative effects
May cause cancer
May cause heritable genetic damage
May cause birth defects
Danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure
Liquid or vapour causes burns which may be delayed
Dangerously Reactive Material
Risk of explosion by shock, friction, fire or other sources of ignition
Risk of explosion if heated under confinement
Explosive when dry
Forms very sensitive explosive metallic compounds
Heating may cause an explosion
May cause fire
Reacts violently with water
Explosive with or without contact with air
Explosive when mixed with oxidizing substances
May form explosive peroxides
Contact with acids liberates toxic gas
Can become highly flammable in use
Risk of serious damage to the eyes
Examples of Precautionary Statements
Keep in cool place
Keep contents under...
Keep container tightly closed
Keep container dry
Keep container in well-ventilated place
Do no keep the container sealed
Keep away from...
Keep away from heat
Keep away from sources of ignition - No smoking
Handle and open container with care
When using do not smoke
Do not breathe dust
Do not breathe gas/fume/vapour/spray
Avoid contact with skin
Avoid contact with eyes
Do not empty into drains
Never add water to this product
Take precautionary measures against static discharges
Avoid shock and friction
Wear suitable protective clothing
Wear suitable gloves
In case of insufficient ventilation, wear suitable respiratory protection
Wear eye/face protection
Avoid prolonged or repeated contact with the skin
In case of fire use...
If you feel ill, seek medical advice
This gas deadens the sense of smell. Do not depend on odour to detect the presence of
The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
The material safety data sheet or "MSDS" is an important source of information for the
worker at the worksite. It is one of the three basic elements of the WHMIS right-to-know-
The MSDS includes the following: relevant technical information on the substance; a list
of its hazardous ingredients, (if it's a mixture); chemical hazard data, control measures
such as proper engineering controls and personal protective equipment; instructions in
accident prevention while using the substance, specific handling, storage and disposal
procedures; and emergency procedures to follow in the event of an accident.
The information provided is expected to be comprehensive and must include what can
reasonably be expected to be known about the material and the hazards it may present.
MSDS's from different companies may not look the same but they should contain the
same basic information.
The following pages include the various sections of a MSDS for acetone as well as
explanantion of the corresponding relevant technical information. The order in which
sections appear on a MSDS may vary from one supplier to another, but the content of
each section is specified by the legislation.
Each section of a MSDS must be filled in, even if it only states: "not determined" or "not
Section 1 - Material Indentification
Section 2 - Hazardous Ingredients
Section 3 - Physical Data
Section 4 - Fire and Explosion Data
Section 5 - Reactivity Data
Section 6 - Health Hazard Data
Section 7 - First Aid Measures
Section 8 - Preventative Measures
Section 9 - Storage and Handling
Section 10 - Spill Clean-up and Waste Disposal
The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
TRADE NAME/MATERIAL NAME PRODUCT USE
2-propanone; Dimethyl ketone
BDH Chemicals Canada Ltd
350 Evans Ave.
This section identifies the material by brand name, chemical name, or generic name as
well as other names by which the product is known. Identity of the manufacturer and
supplier are also listed. The intended use of the product, for which the information
supplied is solely applicable, is also given.
The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
INGREDIENTS AMOUNT CAS/PIN NUMBER
Acetone 100% 67641/1090
PERMISSIBLE EXPOSURE LIMITS LD50 SPECIES LC50 SPECIES
& ROUTE & ROUTE
TWA = 750 ppm 7.4 g/kg not determined
STEV = 1000 ppm 20 g/kg
All potentially hazardous ingredients of the material and the approximate amount
(percent) of each ingredient of the material must be listed in this section. When a
material contains ingredients that are registered as a trade secret, a registration number
assigned by the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission will appear in
place of the ingredients. In the event of a medical emergency the company must disclose
the identity of the ingredients to a medical professsional.
For acetone, the time-weighted average exposure value (TWAEV - 8 hr work day or 40
hr work week) of 750 ppm and the short-term exposure value (STEV - 15 min period) of
1000 ppm should not be exceeded. Preventive measures must be taken to reduce
exposures to as low a level as is reasonable achievable.
Animal data (LD50 and LC50)) indicates that acetone is a compound of relatively low
The CAS registry number, for acetone is 67641, This is a number assigned to to each
chemical by the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) to provide a single unique identifier.
A unique identifier is necessary because prooducts with the same chemical make-up can
have many different names..
The product identification number (PIN)) for acetone is 1090. The PIN is used in
Canada by fire fighters and other emergency response personnel for identification of
materials during transportation.
The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
PHYSICAL STATE: Liquid BOILING POINT: 56 C FREEZING POINT: -
ODOUR and APPEARANCE
Clear, colourless, volatile liquid. Sweet, pleasant odour.
ODOR THRESHOLD: EVAPORATION RATE: % Volatile (by volume)
100-150 ppm (butyl acetate=1) 7.7 at 20C 100
VAPOR PRESSURE: VAPOR DENSITY (air = 1): SPECIFIC GRAVITY:
181.7 mmHg @ 20 C 2 0.79 at 20 C
COEFFICIENT of OIL/WATER DISTRIBUTION SOLUBILITY in WATER (20C)
not available complete
The physical state, appearance and odour of acetone may aid in its identification.
The boiling point of acetone is 56.6 C. This is the temperature at which acetone changes
from a liquid to a gas, at normal atmoshpheric pressure. Below this temperature, lqiuid
acetone can evaporate to form a vapour. As acetone approaches the boiling point, the
change from liquid to vapour/gas is rapid and vapour concentrations in air can be very
The freezing point of acetone is -94.7 C. This is the temperature at which liquid acetone
becomes solid, at normal atmospheric pressure. This information is important for storage
and handling purposes. For example, a frozen material may burst a container. Also, a
change of physical state could alter the hazardous nature of the material.
The odour threshold of acetone is 100-150 ppm. This is the level, in parts per million, at
which the odour becomes noticealbe. Compare this to the exposure limit; if it is well
below, for example, odour can be sued to warn of a problem with your air purifying
respirator. Odour, however, must not be used to determine safe/unsafe conditions (the
presence of other odours may confuse the sense of smell, workers may become used to
the odour, or the chemical may numb the sense of smell).
The vapour pressure of acetone is 181.7 mmHg at 20 Celsius. This is the pressure of
acetone vapour in equilibrium with its liquid form. Vapour pressure is a measure of the
tendency of a material to form a vapour. The higher the vapour pressure, the higher the
potential vapour concentration.
The evaporation rate of acetone is 7.7 at 20 C. This is the rate at which liquid acetone
changes to a vapour. Evaporation rate is a measure of how quickly the material becomes
a vapour at a specified temperature, usually normal room temperature. Generally, the rate
is given in comparison to a chemical which evaporates quickly, in this case butyl acetate.
Acetone evaporates at a rate of 7.7 times that of butyl acetate.
The vapour density of acetone is 2. This is the density of acetone vapour compared to the
density of an equal amount of air. Acetone vapour is heavier than air and thus can
accumulate at ground level.
The volatility of acetone is 100%. This means that all of the material will evaporate if
given enough time.
The specific gravity of acetone is 0.79 at 20 C. This is the density of liquid acetone
compared to the density of an equal amount of water. When the specific gravity of a
substance is greater than 1.0 it will sink in water, when less, it will float. This information
is important in planning spill clean-up and fire fighting procedures.
The coefficient of oil/water distribution is the ratio of the solubility of the chemical in an
oil to its solubility in water. It also indicates how readily a chemical can be absorbed into
or stored in the body.
The solubility of acetone is 100%. This represents the ability of acetone to dissolve in
water or another liquid. The information is also important in planning spill clean-up and
fire fighting procedures.
pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity (alkalinity) of a material when dissolved in
water. Materials with pH values of 0-2 or 11.5-14 are classed as corrosive.
The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
FIRE AND EXPLOSION DATA
Highly Flammable and can be a severe fire hazard.
The vapour easiliy forms explosive mixtures with air at room
CO2 Dry Chemical Other: Alcohol Foam
Even water solutions of acetone can be very flammable if not
highly diluted. Flashback along vapour.
HAZARDOUS COMBUSTION PRODUCTS:
FLASHPOINT (C) and METHOD: AUTOIGNITION TEMPERATURE (C)
-17.8 (closed cup) 578
UPPER FLAMMABLE LIMIT (% by volume) LOWER FLAMMABLE LIMIT (% by
EXPLOSION DATA EXPLOSION DATA
Sensitivy to Mechanical Impact: Sensisitvity to Static Discharge:
LOW Not available
Acetone presents a significant fire hazard and a moderate explosion hazard when exposed
to heat and flame.
Water is not be effective in extinguishing an acetone fire and in fact water is not be used
directly on burning acetone. Carbon dioxide, alcohol foam, or dry chemical fire
extinguishers should be used.
Acetone is capable of vapour flashback. Flashback occurs when a trail of flammable
vapour is ignited by distant flame, spark, or other source of ignition. The flame travels
back along the trail of vapour to its source. The result could be a serious fire or explosion.
When acetone burns one of the major hazardous products of combustion is carbon
The flashpoint point of acetone is -17.8 C (closed cup). The lower the flash point the
greater the potential fire hazard. This relatively low value is one indication that acetone
presents a serious fire hazard.
The flammable or explosive range of acetone in air is 2.6% to 12.8% (26,000 to 128,000
ppm). The lower explosive limit (LEL) is of particular importance, because if this
percentage is low, it will take only a small amount of a flammable or combustible liquid
vaporized in air to form an ignitable mixture. It also should be noted that if the
concentration of vapour in the vapour-air mixture is greater than the upper explosive
limit (UEL), introduction of air (by ventilation or other means) will produce a mixture
within the flammable range before a safe concentration of vapour (below the LEL) can be
reached. The explosive-limits range itself is also important; the larger the range the
greater the potential hazard.
For acetone, the explosive-limits range is relatively small and the LEL relatively low, but
the LEL is much higher than the exposure standard.
Acetone has a low sensistivity to mechnical impact. This information indicates whether
or not the material will burn or explode on shock (e.g. dropping a container of the
material) or friction *e.g. scooping up spilled material).
Information on sensitivity to static discharge indicates how readily the material can be
ignited by static electricity, such as an electric spark.
The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
Stable under normal temperatures and pressures.
INCOMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER SUBSTANCES:
Oxidizing agenst such as peroxides and nitrates; halogentated
hydrocarbon/alkali mixtures; hexachloromelamine.
HAZARDOUS DECOMPOSITION PRODUCTS:
Acetone is stable under normal storage and use conditions; it does not undergo
It reacts vigorously with strong oxidizing agents such as nitrates, peroxides, and
perchlorates. It is also incompatible with mineral acids and halogentated
hydrocarbon/alkali mixtures, etc.
Carbon monoxide may be produced upon decomposition
TOXICOLOGICAL PROPERTIES (Health Hazard Information)
ROUTE OF ENTRY:
Skin Contact Eye Contact Inhalation
EFFECT OF ACUTE EXPOSURE TO PRODUCT:
Generally, a solvent of low toxicity. At high conc. (2000 ppm),
of the vapour may cause headache, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting
while eye contact will result in noticeable irritation. Liquid acetone
mildly irritating on skin contact but moderately irritating if splashed
into the eyes.
EFFECT OF CHRONIC EXPOUSRE TO PRODUCT:
There are few reports of adverse health effects caused by long-term
exposure to acetone. Long-term contact with the liquid removes natural
oils from the skin.
IRRITANCY OF MATERIAL: SENSITIZATION TO MATERIAL: SYNERGISITIC:
See above None known Unknown
CARCINOGENCITY, MUTAGENICITY, REPRODUCTIVE EFFECTS, TERATOGENCITY
There is no evidence that acetone causes cancer.
Acetone is classed as a compound of low toxicity. Since it evaporates easily, its major
route of entry into the body is through inhalation. Skin or eye contact with liquid acetone
or its vapour may result in mild to moderate irritation. Acute exposures through
inhalation, to moderately high concentrations of acetone may cause headache,
drowsiness, nausea etc.
FIRST AID MEASURES
Immediately wash with plenty of soap and water. Get medical attention
Immediately flush eyes with running water for at least 20 minutes
eyelids open. Get medical attention.
Do not induce vomiting. Give 1-2 glasses of water to a conscius
Never give anything by mouth to an unconcscious victim. Get medical
Move vitim to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial
Get medical attention.
This section describes the actions to be taken in case of overexposure to acetone. The
purpose of first aid is to minimize injury and future disability. In serious cases, first aid
may be necessary to keep the victime alive.
One needs to be aware of this first aid information before one starts working with
acetone. First aid procedures should be periodically reviewed and everyone should know
the location of the facilities and equipment for providing first aid (e.g. the eyewash unit
and the first aid station). For every first aid station there should always be at least two
trained first aiders (their certificates should be posted at the station), to deal with
ENGINEERING CONTROLS: (e.g. ventilation)
Dilution ventilation may be adequate where acetone is used in small
amounts at room temeprature. Explosion-proof local exhaust ventilation
is normally needed for large scale use or at elevated temperatures.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
CLOTHING (Type of Material):
Avoid skin contact. Wear butyl or styrene-butadiene rubber gloves.
Prevent eye contact. Wear chemical goggles if splashing is possible.
An eyewash should be located near areas where acetone is routinely
If local ventilation is inadequate, wear an air-purifying respirator
equipped with organic vapour cartridges. In confined spaces or
emergency situations wear a self-contained breathing apparatus.
This section provides information on two general ways of controlling hazardous
conditions - engineering controls and personal protective equipment.
In operations where acetone is used in small amounts at room temperature, general
dilution ventilation may be adequate to keep exposures under control. Explosion-proof
local exhaust ventilation is normally needed with large-scale use or at elevated
Protective clothing (gloves, aprons, etc.) should be worn, as required, to prevent skin
exposure to the liquid.
Acetone will attack many synthetic compounds, so many materials will not provide
adequate protection. Clothing (gloves/apron) made from butyl rubber or styrene
butadiene rubber provides good protection from acetone.
The degree of respiratory protection required depends on the concentration of the vapour
and the duration of exposure.
STORAGE and HANDLING
Store closed containers in a cold, well-ventilated, flammable-liquids,
storage cabinet or room. Use approved solvent containers. Keep away
from heat, flames or sparks. No smoking in storage areas.
HANDLING PROCEDURES and EQUIPMENTS:
Prevent eye and skin contact. Avoid breathing vapours - use in
well-ventilated areas. Ventilation fans must be explosion proof.
Keep away from sources of heat, sparks and flames. Containers
should be grounded and bonded during liquid transfer.
SPECIAL SHIPPING INFORMATION:
Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act applies.
This section provides information on the precautions necessary for the safe storage and
handling of acetone.
Acetone should be stored in suitably labelled containers, in a cool, dry, well-ventilated
area away from heat and ignition sources.
Acetone should be handled in a well-ventilated area or under local exhaust and away
from sources of ignition.
In Canada, the transportation of potentially hazardous materials is regulated under the
Federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and regulations which are administered
by Transport Canada. The Act and regulations state how these materials must be
packaged and shipped.
The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
SPILL CLEAN-UP AND WASTE DISPOSAL
Eliminate all sources of heat, flames and sparks. Ventilate area if
necessary. Don proper personal protection. Absorb or neutralize
Wash affected area with soap and water.
If spill cannot be safely contained, evacuate area and contact
Services (Hazardous Materials). Generators of hazardous wastes are
properly packaging and labelling such wastes. Contact Environmental
to arrange for disposal.
Procedures to be followed during leaks and spills include absorbing the acetone with a
non-combustible absorbent such as charcoal and flushing the area with large amounts of
water or letting it evaporate into a well-ventilated area. Large spills are more hazardous
and as a result require explosion proof ventilation, and the use of non-sparking tools.
Acetone should not be flushed to sewers or drains. Eye, skin contact, and inhalation of
acetone vapours must be avoided.
The MSDS will not contain all the steps and precautions necessary for hazardous waste
disposal. Generators of such wastes are responsible for the proper packaging and
labelling of the wastes, and contacting the Environmental Protection Services (Hazardous
Materials) to arrange for disposal.
The Material Safety Data Sheet
Often the last thing on the MSDS is the information regarding the preparation of the
sheet. The supplier must indicate the name and phone number of the group, department or
party responsible for the preparation of the MSDS. A MSDS is valid for three years from
the date of prepraration, unless an update is issued or made in the interim. The employer
must acquire a new, up-top date MSDS when the old one expires, such that a current
MSDS is available at all times.