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Preventing Chemical Accidents:  Understanding MSDS’s & Assessing Chemical Hazards

Factsheet #11 continued

Section IV: Fire and Explosion Data

This section provides basic information on the fire hazards of a chemical (flashpoint) and the special precautions necessary to extinguish a fire (extinguishing media).

Flash Point

This is the lowest temperature at which a liquid gives off enough vapor to form a mixture with air that can be ignited by a spark. Liquids with flash points below 100ºF are considered flammable, and liquids with flash points between 100 and 200ºF are considered to be combustible. Flammable and combustible liquids require special handling and storage precautions.

Extinguishing

Media

It should specify what kind of fire extinguisher to use. There are four classifications of fires: Class A for paper and wood, Class B for more flammable materials such as liquids or greases, Class C for electrical fires, and Class D for fires involving metals or metal alloys.

Section V: Reactivity Data

This section tells us whether or not the chemical is likely to break down or react with other substances to cause fires, explosions, or the release of different, even more hazardous, substances.

Section VI: Health Hazard Data

This section describes the health effects of the chemical, including signs and symptoms of exposure and medical conditions made worse by exposure.  Acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) effects of exposure must always be included. Routes of entry (inhalation, skin contact, swallowing) and emergency and first aid procedures must also be included.   This section must also contain information on target organs (liver, kidneys or central nervous system), signs or symptoms of exposure, medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure, and emergency First Aid procedures.

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