Are Your MSDSs All Filled Out?

Each MSDS must contain certain information for each substance. Here’s what they’ve got to have.

Chemical identity and composition

The MSDS must describe the substance’s composition and, if a single substance, its chemical and common name(s).


It must describe the chemical and common name(s) of the ingredients that contribute to the known hazards and the chemical and common name of the mixture itself if the substance is a mixture that has been tested as a whole to determine its hazards. The substance is a mixture if it contains two or more chemicals and the combination is not the result of a chemical reaction.

Complex mixtures with similar contents may require only one MSDS–if the chemical ingredients are essentially the same but the specific composition varies from mixture to mixture.

If the substance is a mixture that has not been tested as a whole to determine whether the mixture is a health hazard:

  • The chemical and common name of each ingredient that has been determined to be a health hazard and that comprises 1 percent or more of the mixture must be included on the MSDS for the mixture. Note: A chemical that has been identified as a carcinogen must be listed if the concentration is 0.1 percent or more.
  • The chemical and common name(s) of all ingredients that are determined to be health hazards that are less than 1 percent of the mixture and would be a health hazard if released; for example, if they exceed an established OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) or the American Congress of Governmental Industrial Hygienist’s Threshold Limit Value.

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Chemical substance characteristics and hazards

The MSDS must describe the physical and chemical characteristics of the hazardous chemical (e.g., vapor pressure, flash point); physical hazards, including potential for fire, explosion, and reactivity; and health hazards, including signs and symptoms of exposure and any medical conditions that are generally recognized as being aggravated by chemical exposure.

Route of entry

Primary routes of entry into the body must be described and may be shown graphically.

Exposure limits

The OSHA PEL and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the MSDS must be included.

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If applicable, the MSDS must state whether the hazardous chemical is listed in the National Toxicology Program Annual Report on Carcinogens (latest edition), or has been found to be a potential carcinogen in the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs (latest edition), or by OSHA.

Safe handling and control measures. The MSDS must describe precautions for safe handling and use (e.g., appropriate hygiene practices, protective measures during repair, maintenance of contaminated equipment, procedures for cleanup of spills and leaks). It must also include any generally applicable control measures known, such as appropriate engineering controls, work practices, or personal protective equipment, and emergency and first-aid procedures.

Date and contact data

The date of MSDS preparation or most recent change and the name, address, and telephone number of the party preparing or distributing the MSDS who can provide additional information on the hazardous chemical and appropriate emergency procedures, if necessary, must be included.

A complete MSDS will get you in compliance with the Hazard Communication Standard, but worker protection isn’t all that’s required when managing chemicals. See tomorrow’s Advisor for help with EPA’s MSDS requirements.

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