Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets, are documents that provide information about the chemical substances you use in the work place. They include physical and health hazards of the chemical, safe handling procedures, personal protective equipment, emergency or first aid procedures and more. Manufacturers and distributors are required to provide SDS to product users.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of chemical product users on campus can get all the information about a product and how to use it safely directly from the label on the container. However, if anyone wants to know more about a product, we encourage them to review the SDS.

We keep SDS on all hazardous chemicals at our facility. They are available to all employees during work hours. While SDS are designed for employees who work with chemicals, it is sensible and appropriate for any students who must use chemicals as part of their curriculum to also be provided access to this information.

Departments using chemicals, paints and other hazardous materials must keep a binder with all relevant SDSs for each project. As new products are ordered, an SDS should be obtained for the binder.

If your department has a chemical product or substance for which you do not have an SDS, please contact the product manufacturer to obtain one.

 Reading a Safety Data Sheet

When you want to know more about a product, its use or hazards, read the SDS. Currently state and federal law only require that it list specific information (how the format is designed is up to the manufacturer).


SDS SECTION I - Identification of the Material
Here you'll find the chemical name, its synonyms, and any other common trade names for that chemical, also the name and address of the manufacturer and the date the MSDS was prepared.


SDS SECTION II - Hazardous Ingredients
Here hazardous contents of the product are listed. They will be listed as toxic, flammable, corrosive or reactive. Any information about toxic effects of the chemical will be listed here too.


SDS SECTION III - Physical Information
In this section the physical properties of the product are described. What does the material look and smell like; what is its vapor density, boiling point and other important physical data are given.


SDS SECTION IV - Fire and Explosion Hazards
Here you'll find which fire extinguishing equipment (see How To Use A Fire Extinguisher) will work on the material, the proper protective gear to wear, at what temperature the material will catch fire or explode, and other special information - such as whether water, foam, or CO2 is the suitable media to fight a fire involving this material.


SDS SECTION V - Health Hazards
This section gives safe-handling recommendations and the safe exposure levels for working with this product. The effects of over-exposure (such as headache, dizziness, etc.) are also given and emergency first-aid is described.


SDS SECTION VI - Reactivity
What chemicals or products are incompatible with this product? How stable or unstable is it? Find out here. Section VI also describes any special conditions for use and storage.


SDS SECTION VII - Spills and Leaks
What should you do if the material is accidentally released or spilled? Do you know the precautions to follow during a clean up, including necessary safety gear to wear?


SDS SECTION VIII - Special Protection Information
What Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, is required or recommended when working with the material? PPE includes (but is not limited to): gloves, and what type of gloves; eye protection; coveralls; etc. It will tell you if a respirator is required.


SDS SECTION IX - Special Precautions
Anything not covered by the sections listed above are to be found here.