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Material Safety Data Sheets

Where to Find MSDSs on the Internet

Material Safety Data Sheet Regulations

Content of a Material Data Safety Sheet

Standardizing the MSDS Sheet

MSDS stands for "Material Safety Data Sheet." The MSDS is an important document. It's used to relay chemical hazard information from the manufacturer/importer to you. This is the information needed to inform you on the safe use of hazardous chemicals. By knowing the chemical and physical characteristics of the materials you use, you can better protect yourself from their hazards. When you can clearly understand control methods and emergency actions, you can protect yourself accordingly.

We attempt to obtain an MSDS for every chemical that is used on campus and have an extensive collection of MSDSs in the Physical Plant safety office.

Any time you wish to obtain a copy of a chemical being used please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Department or the Physical Plant Department and request a copy. Additionally, below are listed many sites on the internet containing MSDS collections. To access a site from this page merely click on the location link.

Occasionally, a chemical may be found in use on the campus for which an MSDS is not on file at the College. In such a case we will contact the manufacturer and have them send an MSDS to us immediately for distribution.

If you have any questions regarding MSDSs, please contact the Campus Safety Department.


Univ. of Vermont SIRI has an 180,000 MSDS database. Keyword searchable. Text file format. Lots of additional safety links and information.

Cornell University has an 325,000 MSDS keyword searchable MSDS database. Text file format. Also, check out their Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory.

Oxford University has 2,000 MSDSs listed. Sections listed A-Z. HTML format. Optional search on full text of database.

Univ. of Akron at last count had over 1,991 keyword searchable MSDSs.

Interactive Learning Paradigms, Incorporated (Where to Find MSDSs on the Internet) An excellent site!! Contains links to other sites that serve MSDS.

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An employer is required to:

  • Have available an MSDS for each hazardous chemical present in the workplace.
  • Request from suppliers, as necessary, MSDSs for all hazardous chemicals brought into the workplace.
  • Keep MSDSs for future reference.
  • Train workers concerning hazards and protective measures shown in the MSDSs.
  • Make MSDSs readily available to employees, previous employees, their representatives, and OR-OSHA.
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Paragraph (g) of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard specifies what must be contained in MSDSs. OSHA publishes a form that can be used for the MSDS, but does not require its use, as long as all of the required information is included. A condensed version of the language in the standard follows. Chemical manufacturers and importers shall obtain or develop a Material Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous chemical they produce or import. Employers shall have a Material Safety Data Sheet in the workplace for each hazardous chemical they use.


A. Each Material Safety Data Sheet shall be in English, and shall contain at least the following information:

  1. The identity (product name) used on the label, and chemical and common name(s) of ingredients which have been determined to be health hazards, and which comprise 1% or greater of the composition, except carcinogens shall be listed if the concentrations are 0.1% or greater; and,
  2. The chemical and common name(s) of all ingredients which have been determined to present a physical hazard when present in the mixture;
  3. Relevant physical and chemical characteristics of the hazardous chemical (such as vapor pressure, flash point);
  4. Relevant physical hazards, including the potential for fire, explosion, and reactivity;
  5. Relevant health hazards, including signs and symptoms of exposure, and any medical conditions generally recognized as being aggravated by exposure to the chemical;
  6. The primary route(s) of entry into the body;
  7. The OSHA permissible exposure limit and ACGIH Threshold Limit Value. Additional applicable exposure limits may be listed;
  8. Whether the hazardous chemical is listed in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Annual Report on Carcinogens (latest edition) or has been found to be a potential carcinogen in the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs (latest editions), or by OSHA;
  9. Precautions for safe handling and use, including appropriate hygienic practices, protective measures during repair and maintenance of contaminated equipment, and procedures for cleanup of spills and leaks;
  10. Appropriate control measures, such as engineering controls, work practices, or personal protective equipment;
  11. Emergency and first aid procedures;
  12. The date of preparation of the Material Safety Data Sheet or the last change to it; and
  13. The name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, employer or other responsible party preparing or distributing the Material Safety Data Sheet, who can provide additional information on the hazardous chemical and appropriate emergency procedures, if necessary.

B. If no relevant information is found for any given category, it should be marked to indicate that no applicable information was found.

C. If significant new information becomes available regarding the hazards of a chemical, or ways to protect against the hazards, this new information shall be added to the Material Safety Data Sheet within three months.

D. A Material Safety Data Sheet must be provided with the initial shipment of a hazardous chemical, and with the first shipment after a Material Safety Data Sheet is updated.

E. Material Safety Data Sheets shall also be made readily available, upon request, to designated employee representatives and to OSHA representatives.

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Since the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard does not impose a format on MSDSs, there is a wide variation in the order in which the information is presented, and in the number of pages. The length of an MSDS can range from two pages to eight pages or even more. Some companies, in order to make the MSDS more uniform for their training programs, have transferred the information on vendor MSDSs into their own uniform format. The hazard of handling the information in this way is that the company then becomes the "responsible party" for the content of the MSDS.

In an effort to improve the completeness, accuracy, and consistency of MSDSs, the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) has developed a voluntary standard for their preparation. The standard was published in 1993 as ANSI Z400.1-1993, "American National Standard for Hazardous Industrial Chemicals -- Material Safety Data Sheets -- Preparation." A very brief description of the purpose and scope of each section follows.

Section 1: Chemical Product and Company Identification Names the material and relates the MSDS with the label and shipping documents. Must also have a mailing address and telephone number for the manufacturer or distributor.

Section 2: Composition, Information on Ingredients Identifies the hazardous components of the material. If non-hazardous ingredients are listed, they should be listed separately. Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers should be included, as well as OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits and American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) TLVs. If the identity of any ingredient is claimed to be a trade secret, it should be so indicated in this section.

Section 3: Hazards Identification Describes the material's appearance, odor, and health, physical, and environmental hazards that may be of concern for emergency response personnel.

Section 4: First Aid Measures This section should include emergency and first aid procedures. It should be in layman's language, easy to understand, and procedures for each potential route of exposure should be included. A "Notes to Physicians" subsection should be included if such information is available.

Section 5: Fire Fighting Measures This section should describe fire and explosive properties of the material, extinguishing media to be used, and firefighting instructions. It applies to anyone who may be in the area of the fire.

Section 6: Accidental Release Measures This section should have information needed to prevent or minimize adverse effects on employees, neighbors, property, and the environment, including waterways. It is intended for emergency response personnel.

Section 7: Handling and Storage This section provides guidelines for minimizing any potential hazards from storing the material. It should include information to minimize handling when appropriate, and conditions such as temperature, inert atmosphere, and conditions to avoid.

Section 8: Exposure Controls, Personal Protection Discusses the degree of engineering control that may be needed when handling the material, and the personal protective equipment that should be used if there is a potential for exposure above the regulatory or suggested limits. Exposure guidelines, such as OSHA PELs and ACGIH TLVs should be included in this section.

Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties These properties should be included to assist users to determine proper handling and storage. Appearance, odor, physical state (liquid, solid, gas), pH, vapor pressure and density, melting and freezing point, solubility, and specific gravity should be included. Additional properties may be included if they are useful.

Section 10: Stability and Reactivity This section should describe conditions that may result in a potentially hazardous reaction, such as evolution of hazardous gases, production of heat, or other hazardous conditions.

Section 11: Toxicological Information This section should include any known information resulting from animal testing or human experience on the toxicity of the material. Also included would be information on its potential for causing cancer. Data should be included for acute, subchronic, and chronic exposures, if available.

Section 12: Ecological Information This section should list impacts to the environment that may occur if the material is released to the environment, or in evaluating waste treatment practices.

Section 13: Disposal Considerations This section is intended to provide guidance to environmental and other technical people responsible for waste management for the product.

Section 14: Transport Information This section should provide information concerning classification for shipping the material. It should include U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) classifications, or an indication that it is not regulated. It may include information for shipment into other countries.

Section 15: Regulatory Information This section should contain information regarding the regulatory status of the material. It should include OSHA AND EPA regulations. It may also include other regulatory agencies, and state agencies, if appropriate.

Section 16: Other Information This section is intended for other material the preparer feels is pertinent, and that should not be included in the other fifteen sections. For example, it may include label information, hazard ratings, revision dates, and references to other related information.

Although the OSHA Hazard Communication does not require the use of a specific format for the preparation of MSDSs, many suppliers may request them in the ANSI format in the interest of having a more uniform placement of information. This may aid them in training their people to use these chemicals and materials safely.

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