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The German Federal Water Management Act requires that substances be evaluated for negative influence on the physical, chemical or biological characteristics of water. These are classified into numeric water hazard classes (WGK or WHC depending whether you use the English or German acronym).
The water hazard potential is based on the properties of the substances (in particular acute oral toxicity for mammals), toxicity for aquatic organisms (mostly fish and bacteria) as well as biodegradability and bioaccumulation. The ranking is assigned by the Commission of the Evaluation of Water Hazardous Substances (KBwS) in which the German federal government, the German States and industry are represented.
|Not hazardous (formerly WGK 0)|
|1||Slightly hazardous to water|
|2||Hazardous to water|
|3||Extremely hazardous to water|
Any substance that falls in Classes 1, 2, or 3 is referred to as awg (hazardous to water in general).
Classification of substances into Water Hazard Classes is discussed in the resources listed under Further Reading below. A working knowledge of German will be a big help.
The WGK abbreviation commonly appears on Safety Data Sheets for products that are sold in the European Community (EC). If present, this information is generally found in Section 15 (regulatory information), however it may also appear in Section 12 (ecological information).
In the United States, the data required for SDS Sections 12 through 15 falls outside OSHA's purview, so these sections are non-mandatory (optional). OSHA requires only that these headings appear on the sheet but does not require that any information be entered under sections 12 through 15.
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See also: acute toxicity, ANSI, biolgical oxygen demand, CHIP, heavy metal.
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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