Crash Axe: A Demonstration

You know what’s great about having a blog attached to an e-commerce website? Every once in a while we get to offer our customers product demonstrations. Not personally but, hey, Youtube is great isn’t it?

We love crash axes; they are cool. The following video may not include any particular crash axe we sell but it does show you ones power and capabilities.

Pretend the dude in the video is busting up a part of the cowling or fuselage or a door that won’t open (for emergency purposes, of course). At the very least, this video can be seen as therapeutic.

“Jet-Hiking”: Adventurous, but is it safe?

The other day I read an article on CNN entitled, “10 things the U.S. does better than anywhere else.” Two items on the list: national parks and road trips. I think after what you’re about to read, though, you’ll find that trips don’t have to be limited to the road.

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Logo for Amber Nolan’s website. I like the Fonz-inspired thumbs-up. Aaaaaviation (Sorry, bad pilot puns are a staple around these parts).

I recently came across a Yahoo article on the subject of what some are calling “jet-hiking.” I know, I know, it’s a Yahoo article (hey, they can sometimes publish good reads that don’t make you want to skip right to the comments). Before you throw your empty oil cans at me, I just want to discuss it for a second.

First, “jet-hiking” is a misnomer. Amber Nolan, the young woman behind this aerial escapade, is flying pretty much exclusively in General Aviation (GA) aircraft. Last time I checked, GA does not equate to jet propulsion. Perhaps ‘jet’ is more sexy in Internet speak or perhaps when she launched her website promoting it, GA-hiking.com was already a taken domain name. Regardless, the concept of hiking across the country only by plane got my attention.

The Yahoo piece is a flash article, giving you an overview of Amber Nolan’s “No-land” transportational journey. She plans on traveling through the skyways to all 50 states. I found a clip of Miss Nolan being interviewed at EAA’s AirVenture 2013:

It seems like a bizarre idea for someone to just say “You know, what? I woke up this morning and want to fly across the country with strangers.” That type of care-free attitude is indicative of someone with an affinity for tree-hugging. And bark has bite.

Why is she doing this? If you did a fly-by evaluation you would think this attempt is purely nonsensical.

But then you find out she is a travel writer who plans to develop a book based on her experiences. Writers, or those familiar with their situation, know that you have to often go on adventures so that you have enough material to develop an engaging story. Do something out of the ordinary or unusual and the chances of your story being published become more than just thoughts in the clouds.

Still, it’s no giant revelation that it’s dangerous to hitch-hike—no matter what the incentive. This isn’t our grandfather’s America and it isn’t modern-day Canada. We don’t leave our doors unlocked anymore. And if we can’t even trust our neighbors, why would we trust strangers? All I’m saying is that I’m concerned for her safety, as any half-way decent pilot should be. I hope she doesn’t get lost or stuck in the middle of nowhere. Maybe she should consider carrying the SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Tracker and Messenger.

But Nolan has been courageous enough to face the wind head-on. And the GA community has helped her meet most of her goal. The above video said she had traveled to 36 or 37 states; the Yahoo article (posted September 21, 2013) currently has her at 42 states. Only eight states left, including Alaska and Hawaii. The latter state might pose a problem for her since GA aircraft might not have what it takes to cross the Pacific. However, we shall see.

Her journey is probably not ground-breaking. But if you ask me it is certainly uplifting. It is refreshing to see something like this.

I perused Nolan’s website. This self-proclaimed “JetHiking Gypsy” has set up links to several non-profit organizations that work within and/or through the aviation community including Dreams of Flight (outlet to inspire young women to fly); Operation Prop (Wounded Warrior and disability-based organization); and Angel Flights (volunteer pilots for humanitarian efforts). There are fewer things more important during an adventure than spreading the word and cultivating charitable action during the process.

No matter the result, no matter the criticism by those who do not understand, on behalf of SkyGeek, I salute Amber Nolan for showing the general public the generous side of the GA community.

SpaceTEC’s Take on Safety Wire

Is it the red or the blue wire? Careful, if you cut the wrong one your ashy remains will be found after the dust settles from a mushroom cloud explosion…

Greetings, geeks! I haven’t posted in a while so figured I would. I’ve had safety wire on my mind lately so I decided to search the Interwebs for anything that would serve as a quick guide or at least a refresher. What I found was a nice short video from SpaceTEC:

“Safety wiring is considered a redundant means of securing components to prevent them from becoming loose, should the primary retention capability fail during operation.” That is what the first screen of the video says. ‘Redundant’ used in this context does not mean something negative; SpaceTEC is not talking about overusing words in a five-page paper in English class. Here, redundant simply refers to the purpose of safety wiring; it acts as an additional and precautionary measure so that parts, most often hardware, remain intact. When it comes to securing fasteners (nuts, bolt, screws, etc.) and preventing vibrational forces from loosening parts, safety wire is a reliable and inexpensive means that leads to peace of mind.

The next screen from the above video states: “Items shall be safety wired in such a configuration that the safety wire shall be put in tension when the parts tend to loosen.” The screen displays two images—illustrations of a safety wire installed on bolt-heads and safety wire used on Castle nuts. This serves as a nice visual aid to give you an idea of the appearance of the configuration. Such a configuration allows for the safety wire to act as an antagonist to the part, meaning as the nut loosens, the wire tenses up. It is similar to how muscles function: as one muscle expands or extends, a corresponding muscle contracts. Imagine if both muscles contracted at the same time? Snap! Well, if a safety wire loosens while a part loosens, it defeats the whole purpose of the configuration.

The third screen retains the two images from the previous screen. But now Aircraft Circular AC 43.13-1B is mentioned. “AC 43.13-1B covers all the aspects of general safety wire practices. There are three common sizes: 0.020, 0.032, 0.041. New safety wire shall be used for each application.” Check out Pages 19-25 of the Aircraft Circular AC43.13-1B where the FAA provides guidelines for “safetying.”

For the fourth and final screen of the video, safety wire pliers are briefly touched upon, particularly how they should be used to apply the wire: “Safety wire should be twisted six to eight turns per inch. The pigtail S/B 1/4 to 1/2-inch (three to six twists).” A picture illustrates this point.

For those who don’t know, SpaceTEC —located in Cape Canaveral, Florida— is the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Resource Center. Its primary mission is to serve as an advocate for employing aerospace technicians. The organization achieves this by providing an academic outlet for such individuals. This leads to a well-trained workforce for commercial, civil, and defense space activities relating to the aerospace and aviation communities.

According to SpaceTEC: “Its certification programs offer performance-based examinations that result in industry-driven nationally recognized credentials that reflect the competencies employers demand. The certification program is offered through a nation-wide consortium of community and technical colleges, universities, business and industry organizations, and government agencies.”

The good news is that SpaceTEC recently received a grant renewal from the NSF; this was accomplished through the NSF’s Advanced Technical Education (ATE) program. This will certainly help with further developing the certificate program, which consists of five key areas – Applied Mechanics, Basic Electricity, Industrial Safety, Materials & Processes, and Tests & Measurements.

Thanks to SpaceTEC for offering a quick reference for the applied mechanics of safety wire.

Anatomy of a MSDS: Sections XIII-XVI

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Flatbed or flatline? Safely transporting a product is just as important as producing it and using it. A MSDS will keep you on the right path while avoiding a trip to the hospital.

We’ve reached the end. Part Four of this blog post series on the structure of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is ready to commence.

We’ve highlighted Dow Corning’s DC4 Electrical Insulating Compound in an attempt to dissect the sections (the basic structure) this type of document contains. This particular post will review the final block, Sections XIII-XVI. Are you ready for the grand finale? Let’s do this.

Section XIII: Disposal Considerations

Unlucky number 13? Possibly, but superstitions aside, in many ways Section XIII of a MSDS is the most critical. A product may or may not be used. Regardless, once its shelf life has expired or once its effectiveness has been compromised, it must be disposed of.

The first thing immediately mentioned is “RCRA Hazard Class (40 CFR 261)”. What is that? The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is a U.S. law passed by Congress in 1976 to spell out a method for properly disposing of waste, especially those considered hazardous. The government agency responsible for setting RCRA guidelines and then enforcing them is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the EPA’s website, regulations concerning hazardous waste are found under 40 CFR Part 260, which includes “waste identification, classification, generation, management and disposal.” CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations and the 40 refers to the 40th Title of such a codification; Title 40 covers “Protection of Environment”. This title is further divided into parts (chapters) and subparts, one of them being 261, or “Identification And Listing Of Hazardous Waste.”

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Right underneath is perhaps one of the most important questions and answers posed in the entire document: is this product classified as hazardous material? Luckily, DC4 does not fall under this designation. And this brings up a great point. Contrary to what some may misperceive, not all products with a MSDS are hazmat.

But let’s say an item was hazmat, what then? This section would not only verify this fact but it would also provide you with information as to any particular procedures that an item calls for when disposing of it. The DC4 MSDS, like many, states that you should abide by regulations established by federal, state, local, or any other applicable governing area where you use the product. A phone number is listed in order to gather additional information.

Section XIV: Transport Information

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From manufacturer to retailer to end-user, all products obviously need to travel from place to place. Whether from land, water, or air, travel accommodations of sorts need to be met. That is where and when the Department of Transportation (DOT) and others get involved.

Similar to the previous section, a specific subpart of a CFR is mentioned, 49 CFR 172.101. You guessed it: Title 49 deals with “Transportation.” For those who just love legalese in all its glory you can read 49 CFR 172.101. DC4 is not subject to DOT. Thus, this product does not have any special requirements “for shipping papers, package marking, labeling, and transport vehicle placarding applicable to the shipment and transportation of those hazard materials.”

If a shipment of DC4 is on an ocean liner, there are no worries since the product is not subject to IMDG code. This code operates through the United Nations’ funded agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code is used similar to the DOT’s CFR but on an international scale that covers services and industries relating to shipping.

Just as DC4 is not subject to other regulations, this product is not subject to IATA, or the International Air Transport Association. Periodically, the IATA publishes a set of Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). The most current version (as of this writing), is the 54th edition. You can view the most important changes to DGR 54 or simply check the IATA website from time to time.

Once again, Section XIV includes a contact number to make further inquiries and get more information.

Section XV: Regulatory Information

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More regulations and more acronyms. Take a deep breath, this section’s a long one.

Back in Section III we mentioned OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health) involvement in a MSDS. For Section XV they make one final appearance, this time with a “Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200.” CFR Title 29 deals with “Labor.” As for 1910.1200, this is the standard number of Title 29’s regulation. The purpose of it is to “ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees.” The specifics of the standard is a mound of text that could put Mt. Kilimanjaro to shame. If you want to take that trek, you can read 1910.1200.

TSCA refers to the Toxic Substances Control Act, a piece of legislation passed by the U.S. in 1976. While it regulates the use of new and pre-existing chemicals, it specifically targets use of products with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). In addition, its subchapters address dangerous substances that, prior to the 1970s, were left unchecked while being applied residentially or industrially. This includes asbestos, radon, and lead in particular. DC4 is free from such substances and that fact is affirmed in “TSCA Status.”

The EPA has also compiled a list of chemicals under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA Title III) of 1986. This is also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986. What follows under “EPA SARA Title III Chemical Listings” is a breakdown of the EPCRA’s four sections, i.e. 302, 304, 311/312, 313, 314; the chemical ingredients within each section; as well as the different parts of CFR Title 40 they correspond to:

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DC4 has no ingredients mentioned in this area of Section XV. However, it is important to see just how complex and how closely monitored products are when they contain anything threatening to users.

The other subsection, “Supplemental State Compliance Information” lists certain states that have passed their own legislation that may pertain to the product in question. California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are mentioned. The contents of DC4 are not considered toxic or otherwise harmful under California State Law. Worth noting is New Jersey and Pennsylvania: both states require manufacturers to list the chemical ingredients, including their name, CAS number, and percentage by weight. This is basically what Section III (or any section that deals with composition) of a MSDS would contain. Why this information is not found in DC4’s Section III is puzzling. It could be an error that may be corrected in a revised edition.

Section XVI: Other Information

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There’s not much to say, here. Any other pertinent information, perhaps any special considerations that must be made according to a product’s specific design, would be mentioned in Section XVI. But honestly, in most cases all relevant details are listed in preceding sections.

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To summarize, a product’s MSDS includes a lot of ingredients, a lot of acronyms, a lot of protocol, procedures, regulations….basically a lot of information. It’s ultimately the responsibility of the reader, the end-user of the product, to be aware of any issues concerning safety.

The MSDS for DC4 is indicative of Dow Corning’s approach to disseminating the appropriate information necessary to safely interact with their extensive product line. It follows a sleek and pleasant design that clearly delineates the different sections. This is in contrast to many MSDS from other manufacturers that have an almost haphazard layout. These kinds of MSDS are often confusing (in addition to the content), lack any depth, are incomplete, and are otherwise presented in a way that further dissuades any one from reading it let alone understanding it.

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In an effort to make it easier to read, many companies are issuing a “Plain Language Hazard Summary” at the beginning of their MSDS. One great example is found when buying LPS® Hardcoat Corrosion Inhibitor. In the accompanying image, you see this new section admits to the confusing and technical nature of the MSDS and how it will just frustrate a “non-professional.” It’s good to see manufacturer’s writing with the audience in mind. Hopefully, this will become a standard carried out by all businesses in the near future.

So there you have it. I hope this was informative, educational, and a help to all who read. It may seem like a waste of time to read a MSDS, but at least it is peace of mind knowing the lengths that governments and related organizations are willing to go through to ensure the welfare of users. While it certainly would be nice to have a streamlined version, when you think about it a MSDS must be thorough, even at the risk of boring readers to death.

As always, until we meet again, 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 Three – Sections IX-XII

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

Anatomy of a MSDS: Sections I-IV

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

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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***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