239273 Utilization of material safety data sheets (MSDS) as information resources for consumers and the general public

Monday, October 31, 2011

Myra Karstadt, PhD , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
MSDS had their origins- and still have their principal application-as information resources for workers, but the sheets have also become an important source of information on toxic chemicals for consumers and the general public. The Household Products Database, available through the Toxnet Website, is essentially a collection of MSDS and data gleaned from MSDS on a product-specific basis. The product categories range widely, from home and auto maintenance products to arts and crafts, but data within any one category tend to be sparse, likely because there are so few MSDS in the database. The information in the database is only as good as the data in the MSDS, which, as of early 2011, are varied in quantity and quality of content. The Household Products Database will reflect changes in MSDS due to the OSHA Global Harmonization Standard (GHS), likely to be promulgated in final form by the end of calendar year 2011. Several features of the proposed standard may be useful for consumers, but it is likely that some of the features- such as the graphics and standardized text that accompany graphics- may not help consumers. We review the Household Products Database, its design and contents, and the likely impacts of GHS on the database. Adapting MSDS information for the general public is a problem that should be dealt with as soon as possible, given the completion of GHS in the near term. OSHA, the Consumer Product Commission (CPSC) and EPA must cooperate to accomplish this important task.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
This presentation will enable the learner to identify and describe the advantages and shortcomings of use of MSDS for consumer protection. The learner will also be able to analyze data presented on the MSDS in terms of consumer use, and compare the utility of those data for consumers with utility for workers.

Keywords: Consumer Protection, Health Risks

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have extensive experience acquired over 30 years working with and conducting research on material safety data sheets for workers and consumers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.