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

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Otto the Owner

About Otto the Owner
Otto the Owner

I'm Otto. Friends call me Otto. As an avid owner of aircraft I know the costs and benefits of flying. I've had enough experience with planes to grow rust on my mustache. While I'm not the best at words, my buddy Skylar helps me write these posts so I can transfer any knowledge onto other aviators out there.