Office of Environmental Health and Safety
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Understanding an MSDS

ANSI Standardized SDS Format

Section 1 gives details on what the chemical or substance is, CAS number, synonyms, the name of the company issuing the data sheet, and often an emergency contact number.


Section 2 identifies the OSHA hazardous ingredients, and may include other key ingredients and exposure limits.


Section 3 lists the major health effects associated with the chemical. Sometimes both the acute and chronic hazards are given.


Section 4 provides first aid measures that should be initiated in case of exposure.


Section 5 presents the fire-fighting measures to be taken.


Section 6 details the procedures to be taken in case of an accidental release. The instructions given may not be sufficiently comprehensive in all cases, and local rules and procedures should be utilized to supplement the information given in the MSDS sheet.


Section 7 addresses the storage and handling information for the chemical. This is an important section as it contains information on the flammability, explosive risk, propensity to form peroxides, and chemical incompatibility for the substance. It also addresses any special storage requirements for the chemical (i.e., special cabinets or refrigerators).


Section 8 outlines the regulatory limits for exposure, usually the maximum per­missible exposure limits (PEL) (refer to Appendix G). The PEL, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, tells the concentration of air contamination a person can be exposed to for 8 hours a day, 40 hours per week over a working lifetime (30 years) without suffering adverse health effects. It also provides information on personal protective equipment.


Section 9 gives the physical and chemical properties of the chemical. Information such as the evaporation rate, specific gravity, and flash points are given.


Section 10 gives the stability and reactivity of the chemical with information about chemical incompatibilities and conditions to avoid.


Section 11 provides both the acute and chronic toxicity of the chemical and any health effects that may be attributed to the chemical.


Section 12 identifies both the ecotoxicity and the environmental fate of the chemical.


Section 13 offers suggestions for the disposal of the chemical. Local, state, and Federal regulations should be followed.


Section 14 gives the transportation information required by the Department of Transportation. This often identifies the dangers associated with the chemical, such as flammability, toxicity, radioactivity, and reactivity.


Section 15 outlines the regulatory information for the chemical. The hazard codes for the chemical are given along with principle hazards associated with the chemical. A variety of country and/or state specific details may be given.


Section 16 provides additional information such as the label warnings, preparation and revision dates, name of the person or firm that prepared the MSDS, disclaimers, and references used to prepare the MSDS.


This information was taken from NIOSH Publication No. 2007-107: School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide, November 2006.


Office of Environmental
Health and Safety
216 Browning Hall
Memphis, TN 38152-3340
Ph: 901-678-5700
Fax: 901-678-4673

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Office of Environmental Health and Safety | 216 Browning Hall | Memphis, TN 38152-3340 | Ph: 901-678-5700 | Fax: 901-678-4673
Last Updated: 8/14/12