What Are MSDS Used For?

An MSDS (material safety data sheet) is a comprehensive list of health and safety information regarding exposure and cleanup for industrial chemicals in the workplace. This includes glues, cleansers and other formulated products.

  1. Organization

    • The content of the MSDS is defined by law. The organization can vary.

    Composition and Physical Properties

    • Often the first sections of the MSDS identify the material or composition of mixtures including synonyms and vendors. Other sections may describe physical properties of the chemical.

    Health Hazards

    • Personal Protective Equipment
      Personal Protective Equipment

      All hazards (health, environmental and transportation) may be summarized in one section with greater detail elsewhere. One section indicates what organs are harmed by the material. Another covers first aid to use in case of exposure to the chemical. Recommended protective gear and exposure limits are described, and effects of exposure are described.

    Release Hazards

    • Instructions may be given about what actions to take in case of spills or other types of release. The level of fire danger might also be given.

    Environmental Hazards

    • Potential ecological hazards are outlined. Labeling and regulations for transportation are also given.


    • An MSDS offers safety information to people who handle and ship chemicals, as well as firefighters who respond to industrial fires. These documents are essential resources for environmental and regulatory professionals. An MSDS sheet should be the first resource consulted by people who handle chemicals.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Andrew Kuznetsov Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

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