From: Peter Zavon <pzavon**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] "Read the SDS"
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2018 10:23:27 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: 002001d3d269$dce3c4f0$96ab4ed0$**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <013CA602-D2CE-4E61-A40C-57BEADE5DE10**At_Symbol_Here**>

Training in how to read an SDS may not, probably will not, entirely solve the problem of necessary information for instructional or research labs. However, since most of those who are in need of that information will eventually find themselves in the industrial/commercial world, or in academia devising those informational pieces specifically for lab activities, they NEED to know how to read an SDS, how to recognize the SDS shortcomings, and how to deal with them.



Peter Zavon, CIH
Penfield, NY




From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of Daniel Kuespert
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:00 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] "Read the SDS"


Perhaps what is needed is a "SDS"-lite specifically for use with teaching labs, calling out the relevant portions of the SDS, adding additional cautions suitable to the audience (like "don't stick your nose in a bottle and inhale deeply to determine if it's ether-I actually saw someone do that once!). 


The SDS simply tries to be too many things to too many people. I have one from PPG for "100% water" that seriously advises that if you get any on you, you should rinse it for 15 minutes in running water! I have another one for sucrose that calls for full Level A containment suits to clean up a sugar spill, which might actually make sense at a transport accident where there's sugar dust everywhere, but not for general lab use. (Actually, firefighting turnout gear would be more appropriate for the transport incident, since the main risk would be a dust explosion.) Seeing even one of those stupid types of SDS notations will turn a student off to the SDS as a reasonable source of information. 


Additionally, SDSs sometimes omit information essential to laboratory use of a chemical. The notation "use appropriate gloves" is particularly maddening to me when I read it, although I do get that each individual glove model has different properties, and even the same material may not resist a chemical in the same manner. I've also seen SDSs (from a major lab chemical manufacturer) that omitted the fact that Pd/C hydrogenation catalyst is spontaneously flammable if you start to let it dry out, particularly when used.


So perhaps we need, as a profession, to starting thinking about "what information do students need in lab" (and "in senior design courses" for chemical engineers), and establish some standards for what should be covered in such a chemical information document. The SDS is not serving us well. I'm not sure training on "how to read a SDS" really solves the above problems.



Dan Kuespert


Daniel Reid Kuespert, Ph.D., CSP

11101 Wood Elves Way

Columbia, MD 21044


On Apr 11, 2018, at 08:44, Mary Beth Mulcahy <mulcahy.marybeth**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM> wrote:


[M]SDSs have piqued my interest since I took my first HAZWOPER course. I remember wondering during that course how I managed to get a PhD in chemistry without ever learning how to read an MSDS--I didn't know what the NFPA diamond was or what IDLH stood for. So, my question to all of you in the classroom, how do you teach your students to read/interpret an SDS?

This morning I looked up the SDS for NaCl and H2SO4. Looking at the two of them side-by-side, I think even a novice could clearly differentiate that sulfuric acid is more hazardous than table salt based on the SDSs. If though the novice did not have the SDSs to compare and you took the name off of the SDS, I wonder how a novice would interpret the hazards of table salt. For example, the SDS for NaCl that I am looking for exposure guidelines states "This product does not contain any hazardous materials with occupational exposure limits established by the region specific regulatory bodies," and then under Other International Regulations states "Mexico Grade-Severe risk, Grade 4." How does a novice interpret that? Do you teach your students the limitations of regulatory-based exposure limits? Do you teach them about Mexico Grades? Do you focus on the NFPA diamond?

I would hope that after reading the SDS for table salt that a novice woudl feel comfortable using the chemical, but I'm not sure they would if you removed the name of the chemical from it. Anyone out there ever handed out a sodium chloride SDS in an intro chem class (with the name of the chemical removed) and asked the students if they would feel comfortable using it?

Mary Beth Mulcahy


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