Safety data sheets, also known as material safety data sheets ,or MSDS, are a comprehensive source of information for hazardous materials. You can find these data sheets on the manufacturer's website, from a government agency database or by searching information on the Interactive Learning Paradigms Incorporated website.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies and local agencies all regulate the creation, registration and retention of material safety data sheets. The purpose of these data sheets is to ensure information about hazardous materials is communicated to employers and employees working with the products.
The exact requirements for data sheets vary by agency. In general, though, the product manufacturers are responsible for creating and maintaining a safety sheet for any hazardous products they create. For example, BP publishes and maintains the material safety data sheet for Louisiana Light Sweet Crude Oil. Safety data sheets detail information such as:
- The product's use and physical characteristics
- The product's chemical composition
- The primary hazards associated with the product and potential negative health effects
- Ecological effects and disposal instructions
- Information about government regulation of the product
- Procedures and contact information in the case of an emergency
How to Find MSDS Sheets
Search the Manufacturer's Website
UC Berkeley notes that, since manufacturers are responsible for the data sheets, they tend to be the most reliable source for the information. If you know who manufactures the product that you're interested in, visit the company website and search it for MSDS or Data sheets. For example, BP maintains a search tool that allows users to view, print or download safety sheets for various products.
Certain government agencies have safety information about specific types of products. OSHA hosts a database of safety sheets on chemical products. To find these safety sheets, visit the Material Safety Data Sheet section and check if the product you're looking for is listed.
The National Library of Medicine maintains a Household Products Database that provides health information and data sheets relevant to the average consumer. The Environmental Protection Agency compiles facts sheets about selected chemicals and notes how an individual might be exposed to them.
Check Interactive Learning Paradigms Incorporated
Interactive Learning Paradigms Incorporated -- ILPI, for short -- maintains an expansive list of resources for safety sheets. The company notes the name of the resource, the number of MSDSs it hosts, pertinent information about cost or registration along with a link to the website. ILPI categorizes information by general resources, government and nonprofit websites, chemical manufacturers and suppliers, pesticides and miscellaneous data sheet resources.