From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 4 Re: [DCHAS-L] MSDS for obsolete chemical
Date: January 25, 2012 9:55:43 AM EST
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <251bc.43493d60.3c5171ef**At_Symbol_Here**>

All,  I found this exchange particularly interesting.  And one of Bruce's sentences stood out:

"Now we are simply going to dumb them down (MSDSs to SDSs), to simple risk phrases that will provide employees with pictograms, but leave us and physicians in the dark."

While you hear a lot about the risk phrases, you probably should google the "GHS SDS Purple Book" and read all the stuff that is supposed to be in the new SDSs.  Only a few big chemical suppliers in the US are actually doing this right, so I see a lot of documents out there that say they are SDSs when they are not.

If the purple book rules are followed, you will probably find section 10 on toxicology the most interesting.  There are 10 blanks for assorted acute and chronic tests.  The blanks can either contain the results of those tests or the phrase "no data available."  You can't use the misleading statements seen on US MSDSs such as "not hazardous if used as directed," "not listed as a carcinogen by IARC, NTP or OSHA" (which means it has never been tested), "certified by a nationally recognized toxicologist as containing no hazardous amounts of toxic substances," and on and on. 

If manufacturers will actually follow the rules you should be able to look at section 10 and find out not only what is known, but more importantly WHAT IS NOT KNOWN.   And under the EU precautionary principle, this means you can't assume a chemical is safe unless there is data. 

The precautionary phrases are for the shippers and handlers to make fast decisions about exposure and clean up.  The SDS itself should provide far more information than the MSDSs and in a form that will enable us to provide informed advice to users.


In a message dated 1/25/2012 7:20:18 AM Eastern Standard Time, secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG writes:

From: "Samuella B. Sigmann" <sigmannsb**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] MSDS for obsolete chemical
Date: January 24, 2012 8:32:43 PM EST

Hi Neal - OSHA would not be involved in disposal information anyway - that would be federal, state or local EPA regs.  As most of us know - all the MSDS is going to say is "Dispose of in accordance with federal, state or local regulations"  or something similar.  The manufacturer would not state disposal info on an MSDS as they would not know the regs where the chemical was being used.

I keep our old MSDSs because that is the easiest way to show that the chemical was present should anyone ever ask if they were exposed.

"Employee exposure records." Each employee exposure record shall be preserved and maintained for at least thirty (30) years, except that:
Background data to environmental (workplace) monitoring or measuring, such as laboratory reports and worksheets, need only be retained for one (1) year so long as the sampling results, the collection methodology (sampling plan), a description of the analytical and mathematical methods used, and a summary of other background data relevant to interpretation of the results obtained, are retained for at least thirty (30) years; and
Material safety data sheets and paragraph (c)(5)(iv) records concerning the identity of a substance or agent need not be retained for any specified period as long as some record of the identity (chemical name if known) of the substance or agent, where it was used, and when it was used is retained for at least thirty (30) years(1); and

Footnote(1) Material safety data sheets must be kept for those chemicals currently in use that are effected by the Hazard Communication Standard in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1200(g).

From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] MSDS for obsolete chemical
Date: January 24, 2012 8:54:42 PM EST

Employers are supposed to keep outdated MSDSs in a dead file for 30 years so if an employee later develops a chronic illness, there will be a record of what he/she was working with years ago.    Monona

From: Bruce Van Scoy <brucev**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] MSDS for obsolete chemical
Date: January 24, 2012 9:01:53 PM EST

Dr. Langerman,
The conclusion may have been reached by recognizing that OSHA states that (1) MSDSs must include the exposure information; (2) MSDSs are part of the medical record; and (3) medical records are required to be maintained for duration of employment plus 30 years.  Please see the links/citations below.  

(1)   1910.1200(g)(2)(i)(C)(2) The chemical and common name(s) of all ingredients which have been determined to be health hazards, and which comprise less than 1% (0.1% for carcinogens) of the mixture, if there is evidence that the ingredient(s) could be released from the mixture in concentrations which would exceed an established OSHA permissible exposure limit or ACGIH Threshold Limit Value, or could present a health risk to employees; and,

(2)  1910.1020(c)(5)(iii)  Material safety data sheets indicating that the material may pose a hazard to human health; or
1910.1020(c)(5)(iv) In the absence of the above, a chemical inventory or any other record which reveals where and when used and the identity (e.g., chemical, common, or trade name) of a toxic substance or harmful physical agent.

(3)  1910.1020(d)(1)   Unless a specific occupational safety and health standard provides a different period of time, each employer shall assure the preservation and retention of records as follows: 1910.1020(d)(1)(i)  "Employee medical records." The medical record for each employee shall be preserved and maintained for at least the duration of employment plus thirty (30) years, except that the following types of records need not be retained for any specified period:

I may be wrong.  Otherwise, I would suggest the context of technology and accuracy of any older MSDS be considered.  If you review the preamble to the OSHA HazCom standard, they hit it dead-on by simply requiring if the hazard(s) are known, they must be included on the MSDS.  Compared to the proposed adoption of GHS which minimizes the knowledge shown/known into simple summary phrases leaving no acknowledgement of the extent of toxicology testing performed, accuracy of the analytical methods used, etc.  Thirty years ago, we won if we had a validated method with an accuracy of a mg/m3 with a precision of +/- 30% (see the earliest IH methods, e.g., formaldehyde).  But, now we can quantify to the ppt level with a very high level of precision, so we are no longer comparing apples to apples!  For example I would rather take a current 12-page formaldehyde MSDS listing 8-pages of toxicology testing compared to a 4-page GHS compliant MSDS to compare/analyze potential employee exposures, target organs, etc.  Regulators may be misinterpreting the original intent of MSDSs, which were to provide accurate information to everyone, employee's, EHS professionals, physicians, etc., but each within the context of their respective professions.  The original intent was to provide employees with the information they needed to know, what we needed as EHS professionals to evaluate potential exposures vs. the physician with the information they needed to react to an overexposure.

Now we are simply going to dumb them down (MSDSs to SDSs), to simple risk phrases that will provide employees with pictograms, but leave us and physicians in the dark.  I suspect that in the future you'll just see "control bands" instead of PELs, TLVs, RELs, MAKs, who needs an OEL?   But employees will have a pictogram!

The "original" MSDSs included disposal information, I remember it was common to see RCRA disposal codes for chemicals that were a listed waste for both neat/mixed materials, physical/chemical properties, etc. to properly classify for disposal, etc. 

But that was before lawyers got involved, then it became "dispose of in accordance with federal, state and local regulations" with NO specifics!     

Wasn't the original HazCom passed in 1994?  It's only taken us <20 years to progress to only simple risk phrases based upon a 6th grade education instead of including what is known.  I may be wrong, but maybe by 2030 we'll be reduced to a simple wallet card for every chemical=E2=80=A6 with one side saying don't use, inhale, drink, put on skin or inject, or place in lap=E2=80=A6 But the back of the card will be 1/1,600 font fine print legal ease.  Now that can easily be understood by everyone.  Sorry about being so skeptical/realistic instead of optimistic=E2=80=A6But, it has been a very long day!

From: Russ Phifer <rphifer**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] MSDS for obsolete chemical
Date: January 24, 2012 9:20:44 PM EST

Neal - you aren't missing anything here. There is no requirement to maintain or provide an MSDS for a product that was discontinued 30 years ago. However, a prudent employer might keep them anyway to document possible exposures or for CERCLA liability purposes. OSHA certainly has no such requirement.


Russ Phifer
WC Environmental, LLC
1085C Andrew Drive
West Chester, PA  19380
610-696-9220x12/ fax 610-344-7519
Cell - 610-322-0657

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