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The MSDS FAQ: Introduction

In This Section

  1. What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?
  2. Who are MSDS's for?
  3. What does an MSDS look like?
  4. Are there any tutorials that explain how to read an MSDS?
  5. Where can I get MSDS's?

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  1. What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?
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  3. Who are MSDS's for?
    • MSDS's are meant for:

      1. Employees who may be occupationally exposed to a hazard at work.
      2. Employers who need to know the proper methods for storage etc.
      3. Emergency responders such as fire fighters, hazardous material crews, emergency medical technicians, and emergency room personnel.
      MSDS's are not meant for consumers. An MSDS reflects the hazards of working with the material in an occupational fashion. For example, an MSDS for paint is not highly pertinent to someone who uses a can of paint once a year, but is extremely important to someone who does this in a confined space 40 hours a week. See the question "What are my rights to an MSDS?" in the next section of this FAQ for more information.

      That said, the Household Products Database by the U.S. National Library of Medicine is a terrific resource for consumers to educate themselves on the hazards of consumer products. For example, use it to select an environmentally-friendly ant killer, to find out who manufacturers a particular product, determine what chemicals are in your shampoo, or figure out what products use xylene!

      See also: Manufacturer and employer responsibilities when providing MSDSs electronically for more about employer and manufacturer responsibilities.

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  4. What does an MSDS look like?
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  6. Are there any tutorials that explain how to read an MSDS?
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  8. Where can I get MSDS's?
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