SDS: A Reliable Source of Toxicity Information?

5th February 2015

When it comes to handling hazardous substances, it’s always safe to know its toxicity using risk – based approaches, compared to hazard based assessment to determine its toxicity rating.

One of the most accessible resource that you can use to determine health impacts posed by substances is its SDS or Safety Data Sheet, formerly known as the MSDS, which is always provided by the supplier. This sheet contains information on the following:

  • The chemical types that make up the product, together with its concentration.
  • The health and environmental impact of the product.
  • Safety precautions that need to be remembered in case of an accident.
  • The contact details of the manufacturing company.

The issuance of SDS is required by legislation, although there are no clauses providing the specific details or data that should be included. Majority of manufacturing companies interpret the said requirement by including the impacts posed by the finished product, instead of stating possible impacts of the individual chemicals making up the product.

While they don’t incorporate the impacts of each individual ingredient, it should be noted that they may still pose significant health and environmental impacts that the end user should know of.

SDS also fail to include whether or not the product will generate VOCs or volatile organic compound, undeclared contaminants, if it still contains unreacted components, or any health issues that could result from its low level of threshold toxicity.

As a result, SDS should not only be a reliable source of information on any potential impact or risk of any product, but also should be fully complied for safe manufacturing and transport especially of hazardous chemicals and products.

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