The National Library of Medicine's open access PubChem database now offers Laboratory Chemical Safety Summaries (LCSSs) that pull together safety information for individual compounds.

PubChem overall aggregates information for more than 60 million compounds from hundreds of sources. So far, it has developed LCSSs for 3,200 compounds, and "we think we can get to 35,000 without too much effort," said Evan Bolton of the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Boston in August. LCSSs are modeled after the summary format developed by the National Research Council for "Prudent Practices in the Laboratory."

PubChem acetone entry PubChem acetone LCSS

PubChem only generates an LCSS if the compound in question has been classified under the globally harmonized system of classification and labeling of chemicals. It's also important to note that PubChem aggregates but doesn't curate, Bolton said. Consequently, information might be missing--such as whether a boiling or melting point was determined at 1 atm--or contradictory or erroneous. PubChem links back to original sources so users can evaluate the information. Bolton encouraged users to contact the help desk if they find errors so they can be filtered out.

The addition of LCSSs to PubChem is the result of a collaboration by the Division of Chemical Health & Safety, Division of Chemical Information, and the Committee on Chemical Safety called iRAMP. RAMP stands for recognizing hazards, assessing risks of hazards, minimizing hazards, and preparing for emergencies from uncontrolled hazards--a set of four safety principles developed in "Laboratory Safety for Chemistry Students." iRAMP is an effort to develop a web platform to support the RAMP process.

Bolton spoke at the Boston meeting in a session on "Current Topics in Chemical Safety Information," and slides from the presentations are available here. In another of the talks, Stanford University chemistry librarian Grace Baysinger spoke about several other sources for safety information, such as international chemical safety cards. Her lab safety page is here.