A. Material Safety Data Sheets

Chemical manufacturers or distributors perform an assessment of the physical and health hazards of each chemical they produce. This information is included in a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and, in part, on container labels.

Material safety data sheets must be maintained and made readily accessible to laboratory workers. A master library of MSDS's is available in the Science Stockroom (von Liebig Center for Science, room 2117), and electronic copies are available on the P: drive under VLlab and BAClab. Additional laboratory safety resources are available in the Science Stockroom and from the Chemical Hygiene Officer.

B. Hazardous Chemicals

The following classifications shall be assigned when they are identified on the MSDS or container label, or when substances meet the respective criteria in the OSHA Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) or Hazard Communication Standard (CFR 1910.1200 Appendix A).

Contact hazards are substances which cause health effects via contact with skin or eyes and include:

  • Allergens
  • Irritants
  • Sensitizers

Corrosivity hazards are substances which destroy living tissue on contact and include:

  • Strong acids
  • Strong bases
  • Some oxidizers

Fire hazards are substances which give off vapors that can readily ignite and include both:

  • Flammables: those with a flash point < 100* F, and
  • Combustibles: those with flash points between 100 and 200* F

Reactivity hazards are substances which are chemically unstable, and include materials identified as any of the following:

  • Reactive
  • Oxidizer
  • Unstable
  • Explosive
  • Dangerous when wet
  • Pyrophoric
  • Organic peroxide

Toxic hazards are substances which are hazardous to health when breathed, swallowed, or contact the skin. In addition to materials specifically identified as toxic, substances with unknown toxicological properties shall be assumed to be toxic.

C. Particularly Hazardous Substances

Particularly hazardous substances include select carcinogens, reproductive toxins and substances that have a high degree of acute toxicity.

  1. Select carcinogens include any substance that is included on any of the following lists of carcinogens:
    1. OSHA Carcinogen List
    2. Annual Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), including all of the substances listed as "known to be carcinogens" and some substances listed as "reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens"
    3. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), including all of Group 1 "carcinogen to humans" and some in Group 2A or 2B, "reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens"
  2. Reproductive toxins are chemicals that may affect the reproductive capabilities including chromosomal damage (mutations) and effects on fetuses (teratogenesis).
  3. High acute toxicity includes chemicals that fall within any of the following categories:
    1. A chemical with a median lethal dose (LD50) of 50 mg or less per kg of body weight when administered orally to certain test populations
    2. A chemical with an LD50 of 200 mg or less per kg of body weight when administered by continuous contact for 24 hours (or less if death occurs within 24 hours) to certain test populations
    3. A chemical with a median lethal concentration (LC50) in air of 200 parts per million (ppm) by volume or less of gas or vapor, or 2 mg per liter or less of mist, fume, or dust, when administered to certain test populations by continuous inhalation for one hour, provided such concentration and/or condition are likely to be encountered by humans when the chemical is used in any reasonably foreseeable manner.


Consult the product MSDS or the Chemical Hygiene Officer for assistance in determining whether a substance is classified as particularly hazardous.