Anatomy of a MSDS: Sections IX-XII

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What lies beneath is danger if you don’t know the risks associated with the physical and chemical properties of a product. A MSDS will provide closer inspection.

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) accompanies many items, including Dow Corning’s DC4 Electrical Insulating Compound. We have been using this product throughout in order to deconstruct the layout and sections normally found within this type of document. Part Three of “Anatomy of a MSDS Sheet” will explore Sections IX-XII. Let’s dive into it.

Section IX: Physical And Chemical Properties

As the heading indicates, this section reveals a list of physical properties as well as chemical properties the product contains. DC4 is a grease with a translucent white hue that emits a mild odor.

Section IX also repeats information found originally in Section V, i.e. the flash point, autoignition temperature, and flammability limits in air.

In addition, there are nine chemical properties listed in DC4’s MSDS, most of which are deemed “Not determined.” Many are self-explanatory: Freezing/Melting/Boiling points as well as viscosity, vapor density, solubility in water and pH.

“Specific gravity” is a reference to the ratio of a compound’s density as compared to another. Since water has a specific gravity equal to one, it is most often used as the reference point (at least when comparing liquids; gases get compared with air). For DC4, the specific gravity is greater than (>) 1, so it is denser than water. The “@25°C” is used because that is the upper limit value that falls within room temperature range.

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As you can see the “Vapor Pressure” at room temperature (25°C) is not determined; this term is important if you want to know a product’s evaporation rate as well as its volatility. The more volatility, the higher vapor pressure it possesses. Speaking of which, DC4 has no known volatile content, i.e. ingredients that rapidly evaporate or tend to explode violently (at least not of this writing).

Knowing these properties not only leads to safer use but also to better and smarter applications of the product.

Section X: Stability And Reactivity

Based on the previous section’s claim that DC4 is not volatile, Section X verifies this by stating the product is chemically stable. However, DC4 should not be placed near any oxidizing material, otherwise the combustion of the product may result; this is found in the “Materials to Avoid” sub-section. Fortunately, there are no other conditions to avoid.

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A somewhat confusing sub-section is “Hazardous Polymerization,” known also as autoacceleration. What is that? Don’t worry, we were confused at first, too. Polymerization occurs when individual molecules (monomers) react to form a chain (polymer). If this process occurs at a fast rate, that’s when it becomes dangerous. Polymerization involves the release of heat and if that escalates too fast, a fire or explosion may result.

Finally, the sub-section “Hazardous Decomposition Products” warns that high heat may lead to thermal breakdown. During this decomposition, “carbon oxides and traces of incompletely burned carbon compounds,” silicone dioxide, and formaldehyde may evolve. Knowing the by-products from such an event allows you to take the proper precautions when disposing of it.

Section XI: Toxicological Information

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What a bummer. DC4’s Section XI is pretty much empty, except with a statement saying that no information regarding the subject is known. That’s all right. We can still enlighten you.

Toxicology of course deals with poison. Thus, anything relating to the nature of poison, including its harmful effects and subsequent treatment once exposed, would be included here.

A good example of this section can be found in the MSDS for Mobilgrease 28. In this MSDS, you will see this section broken into two general parts, “Acute Toxicity” and “Chronic/Other Effects,” i.e. short-term and long-term effects.

Acute toxicity is presented in a convenient chart. The chart’s left column, ‘Route of Exposure’ shows the area in which the product can affect your body, e.g. breathing it, eating it, or getting it in your eye or on your skin. A particularly puzzling aspect of this column is the use of LC50 and LD50. What do they mean? LC stands for “Lethal Concentration” and the 50 refers to the fact that half (50%) of the tested animals were killed. LD stands for “Lethal Dose” and the 50 refers to the same as above. Since humans cannot be tested on, groups of animals must be exposed to concentrated levels of the product either in the air or in water. The right-hand column ‘Conclusion/Remark’ simply states the degree of toxicity based on how the lab animals were exposed to the product.

As for chronic effects, Mobil Grease 28 contains ingredients (synthetic base oils and Phenyl-alpha-napthylamine) that have not been deemed significantly harmful based on laboratory studies. Of course that is assuming you are using the product as normally intended.

Section XII: Ecological Information

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Up to this point, most MSDS sections have discussed how the product affects you, the end-user. Section XII instead places the focus on the environmental impact a product possesses. For DC4, “Environmental Fate and Distribution,” “Environmental Effects,” and “Fate and Effects in Waste Water Treatment Plants,” are all followed by the statement “Complete information is not yet available.” This may be because not enough studies have been conducted and tests have not been run and analyzed with any certainty. However, if DC4 did lead to adverse effects on ecosystems, Dow Corning would not hesitate to transfer that knowledge to users.

Still, this section has an “Ecotoxicity Classification Criteria” table underneath the aforesaid sub-sections. That way if there are measured levels of toxicity from the product, you can use this table as a basis for comparison. In relation to the previous section, ecotoxicity has LC, but you will notice it also has EC; this stands for “effective concentration” and indicates toxicity as it relates to the environment. The table uses criteria considered low, medium, and high hazard. Directly below each parameter is the numerical value for aquatic and terrestrial levels of ecotoxicity. This table is derived from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and their guidelines for “Environmental Toxicology and Risk Assessment.”

There you go. The finish line is within reach. Come back for Part Four as we conclude the “Anatomy of a MSDS” blog post series. As always, stay safe out there…

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

Part One – Sections I-IV
Part Two – Sections V-VIII
Part Four – Sections XIII-XVI

Anatomy of a MSDS: Sections V-VIII

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Don’t be fooled by package size. The safe handling and storage of a product is in proportion to the health risk it imposes…at least that’s what an MSDS would suggest. Image courtesy of vectorstock.com.

A material safety data sheet—aka MSDS—comes with certain products that are purchased. In Part One of our “Anatomy of a MSDS” blog post series we defined what a MSDS was and went into detail about the sections typically found within the document’s structure. We used Dow Corning’s DC4 Electrical Insulating Compound for illustrative purposes.

Part One discussed Sections I-IV. As Part Two, this post will delve into Sections V-VIII. Let’s get started.

Section V – Fire Fighting Measures

If a fire should occur—you will usually find the product’s flammability rating in an earlier part of the MSDS—this section explains how to resolve such a situation. The term “flashpoint” refers to the lowest temperature where the vapor of a compound ignites in the air. DC4 has a flashpoint of greater than 572°F (300°C). But since the flashpoint is based on empirical measurements (that may vary according to different testing conditions and equipment) and is not an absolute law of physics, the number is not 100% accurate. Still, it is a highly reliable approximation.

Underneath flashpoint is “Autoignition Temperature,” aka the fire point. While this term may seem like another word for flashpoint it isn’t. The autoignition temperature is the temperature at which a compound continues to burn; it does not require and is thus independent of an ignition source. DC4 ‘s autoignition temperature has not been determined.

The recommended or preferred method of quelling a fire caused by DC4 depends on the amount ignited. Quantities that lead to large fires can be treated with dry chemical, foam or water spray whereas smaller fires can be put out with CO2, dry chemical or water spray. This information is found in the “Extinguishing Media” sub-section.

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The “Fire Fighting Measures” although a repeat of the section’s title, describes the best way to equip yourself to combat large fires. A means for putting out the fire (the above sub-section) as well as wearing protective clothes is recommended. Also, notice that a “local emergency” plan is mentioned. Buildings often include an “Emergency Action Plan” (EAP) complete with floor plans to aid occupants in exiting the building in event of a fire. Once again, the use of water to subdue burns and the heat of flames is mentioned.

Fortunately DC4 does not include any unusual fire hazards.

Section VI – Accidental Release Measures

All work environments using products that pose a risk to both work area and employee is a constant concern. Accidents happen. When dealing with potentially dangerous material people may be wary. It’s understandable. Spills, leaks, and misapplications may occur. Section VI explains how to treat an accident so that future accidents are avoided.

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Accidental release measures involve being sure to use the two C’s: containment and clean up. To be safe, use protective gear such as goggles, plastic gloves, pants and long sleeve shirts—really whatever can serve as a reliable barrier between you and the mess in question. Once equipped, use a tool, device or any means of getting the material in a disposable container. For DC4 you could use an absorbent paper towel or a rag and then dispose of it in a plastic bag.

This section also refers to the proper disposal as it pertains to local, state, and federal regulations. Dow Corning and most other companies that include this clause are protecting themselves; they are essentially handing the responsibility onto the end-user in being aware of how to safely remove the dangerous substance so as not to incur fines or harm the surrounding environment.

For further information relating to this topic, Section VI has readers refer to sections V and VIII and also provides a phone number to contact for further inquiry.

Section VII – Handling and Storage

Special considerations as to what and where to place a product can be found in Section VII. If a material melts or its effectiveness is compromised in high or low temperatures, this section will or should provide that information.

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When not in use, the product needs to be stored in a suitable place where no harm can be done to it or where it is not prone to accidents. Like many products, DC4 should be stored away from areas of high heat, near electrical areas—areas that could ignite it. In general you don’t want to place potentially dangerous material on an unstable shelf or a place that will lead to its unintended release. Thus, it is best to use common sense. So, for example, the size and dimensions of the package will determine the best way to stow the product away. Clearly you are not going to store a 55 gallon drum in a kitchen cupboard or a pull out desk drawer. But for DC4, the tube size is small enough to fit on most shelves and in most drawers.

Section VIII – Exposure Controls/Personal Protection

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Section VIII works in conjunction with Section VI. And since it is an extension of Section VI it includes a more specific description of personal protective equipment to be worn either during routine handling or when a spill occurs. As mentioned, safety goggles and gloves are recommended as well as washing hands before and after use of material. DC4 is safe enough not to require any respiratory equipment. Of course as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why there’s a sub-section titled: “Precautionary Measures.” You’ll want to avoid eye contact with DC4, advice that applies with most chemical substances.

Worth noting also are the sub-sections, “Component Exposure Limits” and “Engineering Controls.” ‘Engineering controls’ in this context relates to ventilation. In other words, when using the product indoors you want to make sure there is no accumulation of toxic fumes that will disrupt normal breathing…or any breathing for that matter; DC4 does not call for any special form of ventilation. As for “Component Exposure Limits,” there are none with DC4. These limits refer to the amount of acceptable concentrations of a chemical ingredient in the air without causing a health risk. Allowing for proper ventilation will often dispel any concern, otherwise the use of a respirator will be recommended.

There you have it. We’re now half way through. Tune in next time for Part Three of “Anatomy of a MSDS.” As always, stay safe out there…

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

Part One – Sections I-IV
Part Three – Sections IX-XII
Part Four – Sections XIII-XVI

SkyGeek Goes Hollywood? Propeller Hats Featured in the New Movie “The Internship”

They love us! They REALLY love us!

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Movie Magic…Cool photo manipulation/generator thanks to www.redkid.net.

When it came time to get the right gear for Regency’s new movie “The Internship,” rumor has it the studio turned to SkyGeek for help. The movie employs the comedic talents of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (of “Wedding Crashers” fame). Both play middle-aged salesmen whose jobs are lost due to the rise of a younger workforce more in tune with the digital world. In an effort to show they are still able to compete with tech savvy youngsters, they sweet talk their way (they are salesmen after all) into getting a much desired internship at Google.

Most are familiar with Google’s logo and corresponding colors—letters with alternating red, blue, yellow and green. Even their browser, Chrome, is a round ball with the same hues. Since we sell the almighty geekified and immensely popular SkyGeek Propeller Hat you could say this item was destined for stardom. Check out the :34 mark and 2:00 mark from the following clip to see its film debut:

“That could be from any other place,” some skeptics might say. Well, a few months back we got a bulk purchase for over 100 propeller hats from a particular marketing firm. Coincidence? For reasons of customer confidentiality we can’t reveal the name of the company we sold the hats to but, needless to say, SkyGeek has now officially gone Hollywood!

As you can see in the trailer, costume designers modified the hats with the word “Noogler,” inscribed on the front, a name for new employees or interns at Google. If the film does well, we’d like to think our contributions played a role. Hey Regency, how about a mention in the ending credits? Or, at the very least, can you make a passing reference to us during the commentary on the film’s DVD once it is released?

“The Internship” is set to open in theaters June 7th and is distributed by 20th Century Fox.