Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004 10:45:18 -0400
Reply-To: List Moderator <approval1**At_Symbol_Here**>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <approval1**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: Managing Chemicals with stench characteristics

Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004 10:37:55 -0400
From: "Mary M. Cavanaugh" 
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Managing Chemicals with stench characteristics

While I don't think that the lack of information on MSDSs is generally
intentional,  if you look at the body as a whole, MSDSs are not
accomplishing what OSHA intended. That is, they aren't telling people enough
of what they need to know.

There are good MSDSs, even very good ones, out there.  But there are as many
that give virtually no useful information (lots of canned generic phrases),
or the information is so technical as to be useless to the material's actual
users.  Sometimes even the information is overly cauktions -- perhaps
because of fears of liability, or perhaps because the MSDS was written for
the industrial setting where the product is manufactured in huge vats,
rather than for the 1/2-pint can the end-user buys.

I spent almost 2 years entering MSDS information into the military's MSDS
database. I remember the fire section for solid potassium salt as "flush
with water".  I remember seeing the MSDS for a kind of rat poison saying
"keep away from children" in the precautions section and "no ingredients
recognized as toxic" in the ingredients section.  Symptoms of overexposure
routinely list "urticaria," "hyperlacrimation" and other medical terms that
most end users don't know.

A lot of the problem is, in my opinion, the way the MSDS regs are written.
There is no requirement to include chemicals that haven't been evaluated for
toxicity (which leaves tens of thousands of chemicals off the ingredients
list).  This probably was done to appease industry when the reg was written,
but it's time for this to change.


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