>I don‰??t question the importance and utility of SDSs. What I question is that students will read them or modified forms of them properly without guidance and supervision. This applies also to graduate students and research assistants.
I have seen this as well, which I think presents an opportunity:
Can we use critical reading of SDS's as a teaching tool for addressing information literacy issues for technical information?
For example, PubChem's Lab Chemical Safety Summary for benzene at
shows that only 88% of the 11 GHS notifications on benzene say that it may cause genetic defects, while 100% agree that it may be fatal if swallowed. (Note that those 11 reporters don't include a flammability hazard for benzene as 34 of their fellow reporters do...)
I think that discussing these differences in information sources would help students understand that chemical safety information should include error bars around the reported information and that this uncertainty leads to safety guidelines that vary between scenarios.
>I believe that whatever the safety instructional format, it is ultimately up to the instructor, TA, or PI to monitor students‰?? compliance with safety rules and procedures.
I agree with this, although I suspect that this oversight task is more successful when the students understand the logic for the judgement that lead to the rules and procedures.
Thanks for sharing your observations on this topic.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
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