POLLUTION: What it is a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and how can I obtain it?

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A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document developed by chemical product manufacturers to provide both workers and emergency personnel with information on hazardous ingredients in the product as well as the proper procedures for handling the chemical product. An MSDS will include physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures. MSDSs are supplied by manufacturers and distributors to businesses handling the products. Businesses handling chemical products are required to maintain MSDS's onsite to aid emergency personnel.

In order to qualify as a Green Business, an applicant must submit an inventory of cleaning products (floor cleaners, bathroom/toilet cleaners, window/glass cleaners, carpet spotters etc.) in use at their facility. A cleaning product inventory typically includes the manufacturer name, the product name and application as well as the ingredients. For example - Clorox, bleach for disinfecting countertops, Sodium Hypochlorite. This inventory can be obtained in two ways:

  • All buildings have contracts with janitorial service companies and can ask them to provide inventories and MSDS's. This inventory should be obtained before the initial site visit, so that the products can be cross-verified with the products found onsite.
  • The inventory can also be developed by recording information from product labels (This is not preferred as it is extremely time consuming).

Look to see if the products you use are listed by one of the organizations below:

Products approved by these organizations meet program criteria. For products not listed, we recommend that you identify alternatives listed on these websites and use them instead. Our staff will review your product inventory to see which products do not meet our criteria and recommend alternatives, as appropriate.

Please review the Resource Conservation Guide for more detailed information.

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