Anatomy of a MSDS: Sections I-IV


To be Hazmat or not to be Hazmat? That is the question a MSDS will answer. (Photo courtesy of

If you’ve ever perused our site chances are you have come across a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). On most of our product pages that require this document you will often find it below the price and above the “Add to Cart” button.


Known internationally as a safety data sheet (SDS), a MSDS is a document that basically tells you how to, well, safely use the product and how it may or may not harm you under certain conditions. I’ve decided to break down one of our top sellers– Dow Corning’s DC4 Electrical Insulating Compound— so you can see the anatomy or general structure of one.

Most MSDS are divided into sections so let’s explore briefly the first four. Other sections will be discussed in later posts. It’s important to note that not all MSDS contain every section but this will give you an idea of what usually is included.

The DC4 utilizes the European Union’s SDS format.

Section I – Identification of Product and Company



If something goes wrong, the first thing you want to do is be able to identify the product to the company’s emergency telephone number service operator. All of this information is included in the first section for this particular reason. Issues relating to the product can be addressed if the representatives on the other line know what you are referring to.

Also worth mentioning is the NFPA Profile, which is a rating system that indicates a product’s level of hazards as it relates to such areas as health, flammability, and reactivity. For an excellent breakdown of the rating system check out Northeastern University’s Office of Environmental Health & Safety page. For more information, also check out the National Fire Protection Association website.

Section II – Hazards Identification



This section refers to the health risks associated with exposure to the product in question. This means if you accidentally get it in your eyes or on your skin or ingest it, what side effects you can expect. DC4 compound is a mild irritant and offers no short-term harm. As you can see there are sub-sections pertaining to long-term exposure, signs and symptoms to look out for, and pre-existing medical conditions that the product may intensify. Fortunately, DC4 does not seem to have any as presently recorded.

(If you click on the picture to the right, you may not notice a portion of Section II as it has been cut off. Due to the PDF pagination I was unable to capture it in an image. Underneath the part “Medical Conditions Aggravated by Exposure,” there is a brief statement that reads: “The above listed effects of overexposure are based on actual data, results of studies performed upon similar compositions, component data and/or expert review of the product. Please refer to Section 11 for the detailed toxicology information.” This statement basically indicates that the product has been tested and the data has been verified by authorities in the appropriate field. Thus, the information can be trusted by readers.)

Section III – Composition/Information on Ingredients



For this item, this section is empty. DC4 does not contain any materials considered hazardous (Hazmat). Notice that this determination was made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency assigned to dealing with MSDS. This section usually includes the name of a hazardous material(s), the percentage of material the product contains, and a CASRN. The CASRN stands for Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) Registry Number, which is a unique identification number established by the CAS; information pertaining to over 71 million organic and inorganic substances can be found using this system. For an example of a filled in Section III, check out the MSDS on another product we offer, the LPS Labs 01916 LST Penetrant.

Section IV – First Aid Measures



Should you inadvertently expose yourself to the harmful ingredients contained within a product, this section offers a quick set of instructions on how to alleviate the pain or discomfort. As hinted in Section II, Dow Corning DC4 does not pose any serious hazards to your health. Mild irritation may occur. But should exposure to it lead to an escalation of symptoms, this section recommends seeking medical help, either from a doctor or nurse or someone you trust. This particular MSDS even has a “Notes to Physician” sub-section in case you need to bring it to the hospital.

So there you have it: The first four sections of an MSDS. Be sure to check in soon for the second part in the “Anatomy of a MSDS” blog post series. As always, be safe out there…

***UPDATE*** Read other parts in the “ANATOMY OF A MSDS” blog post series

Part Two – Sections V-VIII
Part Three – Sections IX-XII
Part Four – Sections XIII-XVI

SkyGeek Fights the Misleadingly Titled “Marketplace Fairness Act”

SkyGeek likes to stay away from politics. Red state versus blue state, elephant versus donkey…we don’t discriminate based on party affiliation. It’s bad for business to play favorites.

You know what else is bad for business? Bad policy.


Just Say No…to bad policy such as H.R. 684

For those unaware, on May 6th the U.S. Senate passed S.743, better known as the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. It is now on its way to the House in the form of H.R. 684 where if passed it will become law. Hopefully this won’t happen.

H.R. 684 is a contradiction in terms. It is anything but “fair.” Basically, the bill aims to force small online retailers (like us) to collect taxes in states that have sales tax. This compliance would be costly in terms of time and money; it will definitely harm our overhead. H.R. 684 would leave us and other similar e-commerce sites subject to audits from other states where we don’t even have representation. That, my friends, jeopardizes the 10th Amendment.

One of the main problems with H.R. 684 is that it exempts online retailers making under $1 million from complying. In essence it stifles growth. I repeat: Stifles. Growth. Let me explain…

Let’s say I am a small business making $999,000 in sales. This law doesn’t affect my company. But if I make $1,000 more I will have to pay. Where, then, is my incentive to grow? My company won’t want to make any more to avoid the costs of compliance to H.R. 684. My company won’t want to hire anyone as well because that will cut into our profits. In a less than stellar economy, Congress shouldn’t be passing legislation that fails to combat unemployment.

And as for companies that make more than the arbitrary $1 million threshold, unless you are a big company like Amazon, this could potentially cripple your business.

Like two bald eagles clashing, our country is at odds with each other. This issue is a microcosm of what plagues this nation, i.e. assist those at the bottom (online retailers making under $1 million) while hurting those in the middle. Those at the top such as Walmart? H.R. 684 will be the equivalent of a slap-on-the-wrist to them. The costs for compliance would be mere chump change in their swelling purses. In fact, major online retailers support this bill because it will eliminate or hurt their competition.

This piece of legislation reeks of collusion. How else do you explain its blatant disregard for those in the middle? Why must our government draft bills that reward only one portion of American businesses? And why should they pit poor versus rich, small versus mid-size?

Bottom line: the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 should either be revised or rejected.

Please help the SkyGeek team on this. We need to mobilize the troops. All you fans of the site and flyers who believe in free enterprise can do your part. Here’s what needs to be done: The House will be voting on H.R. 684 on June 12th. If you support us, click on the link below and electronically sign the petition to vote down H.R. 684.


You can also write a letter to your representative. Go to this site to locate the right congressperson in the district of your state:

Finally, if you want more information about how this hurts SkyGeek and others like us, check out the eMainStreet (formerly Internet Retailers for Fairness) website:

We have a sense of humor around here but when it comes to policies that negatively impact us and indirectly you, the customer, it’s time to take off the propeller hat and put on our think tank cap.

This is one of the reasons why nothing ever truly changes in our country. Americans are often not aware of what specifically our government is up to at any given moment. It doesn’t have to be that way. Spread the word. Tell others. Use the resources in this article and let them know that they can affect change.

It’s time to take action.

SkyGeek Now Shipping Via FedEx SmartPost

When you run an e-commerce site, one of the major, unavoidable issues is shipping. It’s always the shipping. You can reduce the prices of the items you sell and make the navigation of the site the most user-friendly in the World Wide Web and it won’t be enough. At the end of the day, if a customer adds a list of items to cart and is about to check out and then sees high shipping costs, you know what happens? Transaction terminated.

If the costs don’t kill you, the time it takes to get delivered will. A SkyGeek is a geek and we love science fiction, but until NASA develops some form of Star Trekesque transport beam technology that gets your packages instantly sent to your door, we will just have to find more practical means of streamlining the purchase-to-destination timeline.

We searched the courier community and believe we have found a great shipping method that will work wonders from here on out: FedEx SmartPost.


Illustration of how FedEx SmartPost works. Source: FedEx website. (Click to enlarge)

What is FedEx SmartPost and how does it work? Please focus your attention on the accompanying illustration. As you can see, from Shipper (SkyGeek) to Residence (customer) the process has eliminated some facilities and the amount of hands that touch your precious package. This is referred to as “zone skipping.” Words like highly efficient and cost-effective are used to describe this method and that is why we are using it, i.e. to pass these benefits onto those who do business with us.

Once sorted at a FedEX SmartPost hub, FedEx Ground shipping network takes over and is then deployed to your local post office. Finally USPS sends it to the recipient. You can still track the package using FedEx and your local post office. Plain and simple, right?

Time, experience, and feedback have shown that FedEx is the highest ranked carrier in terms of our customers’ preferences. We figured adding another option to our shipping methods was best for both the company and for the customer. SkyGeek is making every effort to keep our shipping costs as low as possible and our continued dealings with FedEx are working towards obtaining that goal.

Shipping costs are almost always changing and we try to make sure they do not negatively affect our customers. We understand that cost, convenience, fast delivery, and reliability are all factors that determine the best shipping method available. Unfortunately, there is no universal method that pleases everyone all the time. Otherwise we would be using it. Rest assured, we are making every effort to drive down the shipping costs.

Any questions and concerns can be directed to