What Is an MSDS?

If you're striving to establish a greener home, ensuring that the cleaning products that use on a daily basis are nontoxic is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell precisely what's inside of a product just by reading the label. One tip that you'll frequently see in green cleaning articles is to check the "MSDS" for your cleaning products, but not everyone knows precisely what this involves.

"MSDS" stands for Material Safety Data Sheet. U.S. and international laws require manufacturers of chemicals to produce these sheets, which detail the potential hazards that can come with handling a product. 

Generally, the hazards listed on the sheet describe what can happen if a person comes in contact with a large quantity of a particular chemical. Manufacturers often state that the warnings provided on MSDS sheets are not intended for general consumers; however, reading an MSDS can still make you aware of the presence of potential toxins, even if you're unlikely to develop severe symptoms just by cleaning your counter tops or your tub with the products.

 You can find MSDS sheets from online indexes, such as the SIRI MSDS Index. You'll need to know the name of the product and the product manufacturer to use these data sheets. The most important sections to review on the MSDS are the "Physical Hazards," "Health Hazards" and "Carcinogenic Factors" sections.

Have you used MSDS sheets before? Do you have any tips for using them or questions about them? If so, post in our "Comments" section!

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