SECTION IX - Material Safety Data Sheets

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is the hazard communication tool that provides details on all important aspects of chemical use, handling, and storage.  Review both the appropriate Standard Operating Procedure and the MSDS before working with a chemical for the first time or when training staff.  The Office of Health and Safety, the Science Careers labs, and other chemical-using departments maintain MSDS’s for chemicals used at the college. Call OHS (-3775)if you need to obtain an MSDS. 

The OSHA Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) requires manufacturers to provide MSDS’s to customers at no cost. Information is divided into ten sections: 

Section I of the MSDS lists information identifying the manufacturer and the product.  It includes: 

Manufacturer's name, address and telephone number to call in case of emergency

  • Chemical name and synonyms 

  • Trade name and synonyms

  • Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number that is a unique identification number for chemicals and chemical compounds.

  • Date of preparation.

Section II describes the various hazardous ingredient(s) contained in the product, the percentages of ingredient(s), and exposure limits when appropriate. This will include all hazardous chemicals that comprise 1% or greater of the mixture.  Carcinogens must be listed if they represent 0.1% or greater of the mixture. 

Section III describes the physical properties of the material.  Physical properties include: 

  • boiling point
  • specific gravity
  • vapor pressure
  • percent volatile
  • vapor density
  • evaporation rate
  • solubility in water
  • appearance and odor 

Section IV describes the fire and explosion hazard data for the material and other fire and explosion data.  The appropriate extinguishing agent for fires involving the material will be listed.  Special fires involving the material will be listed.  Special fire fighting procedures may also be listed. 

Section V describes the known health hazard data for the material and exposure limits.  Symptoms or the health effects of an overexposure are listed.  This information will help the user and medical personnel recognize if an overexposure has occurred: 

  • threshold limit value (TLV) (exposure limits) 
  • existing medical conditions that may be aggravated by exposure 
  • effects of overexposure (e.g., headache, nausea, narcosis, eye    irritation, weakness, skin rashes, etc.) 
  • primary routes of exposure (i.e., inhalation, skin, ingestion) 
  • cancer or other special health hazards 
  • emergency and first aid procedures 

Section VI describes reactivity data; that is, the material's ability to react and release energy or heat under special conditions or when it comes in contact with certain substances. 

Section VII gives instructions for the steps to be taken in case of an accidental release or spill.  The steps normally include information on containment, evacuation procedures, and waste disposal.  The statements on the MSDS are general; more specific information is available from the appropriate Standard Operating Procedure. 

Section VIII describes the protective equipment for the individual who might have to work with the substance.  This section normally describes “worst case” conditions; therefore, the extent to which personal protective equipment is required is task and environment-dependent.  Always review the appropriate Standard Operating Procedure.  Equipment may include: 

  • respiratory equipment

  • ventilation

  • protective gloves

  • eye protection

  • other protective equipment (i.e., special clothing).

Section IX describes special handling and storage procedures to be taken with the material.  Information may include statements such as: “keep container closed”; “store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area”; “keep refrigerated”; “avoid exposure to sunlight”, etc. 

Section X describes special precautions or miscellaneous information regarding the material, if any.  In some cases, manufacturers may choose to withhold certain information on a MSDS provided the information is a legitimate trade secret.  Regardless of the existence of trade secrets, the MSDS must still contain all relevant hazard, protection, and health information. 

Some MSDS’s may not contain all ten sections or the information may be in a slightly different order.  

However, the basic information described above must be provided. 

Some MSDS's are more complete than others.  Do NOT assume everything you need to know is contained on the MSDS, and do not assume that if a section is left blank that there is no risk.


Gary Lee
Director of Environmental Health
4601 College Blvd.
Farmington, NM  87401
(505) 566-3063 or (505) 566-3190