Welcome to the world of the GHS clashing with the NFPA. This is an illustration of what we will all experience for a long period of time to come: the “inverted” nature of the NFPA and GSH rating systems. The episode below almost certainly refers to an NFPA fire rating of 4 – the highest (most dangerous) level in their 0-4 rating system.
As we are coming to learn about the GHS, their rating system has “1” as the most hazardous rating, and larger numbers are less hazardous. But, the system will have different “end point values” for the most hazardous category for different kinds of hazards. Thus, Flammable Gases will be 1-2, but Acute Toxicity is 1-5. Reproductive Toxicity is 1A, 1B, and 2. And Organic Peroxides are A-G. Wow.
This is all explained at: http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/ghs.html and nicely synopsized in one of my favorite books (!) in Table 18.104.22.168 on page 3-27 in “Laboratory Safety for Chemistry Students,” Hill and Finster, Wiley, 2010.
David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
Here’s a tidbit from today’s “Chemical Safety Headlines from Google:”
FIRE CAUSES MINOR EXPLOSIONS AT DISTRIBUTING COMPANY http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/21975892/2013/04/15/fire-causes-minor-explosions-at-distributing-company
Tags: us_AZ, industrial, explosion, response, aerosol
A shipping container caught fire at a distributing company near Grande Avenue and McDowell Road on Sunday night.
According to Phoenix Fire Department, minor explosions occurred after a Conex box outside Star Distributing Company caught fire.
A Conex box is a sturdy container commonly used on trains and at some businesses.
Placards on the outside of the box read that whatever was inside had a level four hazardous threat, the highest level possible.
Crews were able to quickly contain the fire. They used saws to cut holes into the box and found it was full of aerosol cans.
Phoenix Fire Cpt. Jonathan Jacobs says the fire caused the cans to heat up and explode.
The auto parts distributing company is located in a primarily industrial area and no homes were threatened.
From the images and news video on the website, it’s an NFPA placard. Even news media are accustomed to the current NFPA placarding scheme. It’ll be interesting if NFPA flips their numbering scheme.
Debbie M. Decker, CCHO
Department of Chemistry
University of California, Davis
1 Shields Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."
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