SDS Report Card (grade your product against our products)
Potential customers often have questions concerning
how they can evaluate and compare cleaning products in terms of personnel
safety, environmental friendliness and regulatory compliance issues. Much
of the information needed to complete an initial screening is given in the
product's SDS, and the scanning of a few sections will give you the basics
on the nature of the product.
First, you should have some general information
on cleaning products so that you know what to look for. Most effective industrial
cleaners available today are highly alkaline products that contain
caustics and/or strong alkali salts such as sodium hydroxide, sodium silicates
and sodium phosphates. These products can have very high pH's of 12.5-14.0,
and can cause strong irritation and burns to skin and eyes. Glycol ethers
are often combined with the alkalis to increase cleaning power. Certain glycol
ethers (such as ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, or 2-butoxyethanol) are classed
as toxic chemicals subject to SARA Title III Annual Reporting, and worker
exposure to airborne concentrations must be controlled. Glycol ethers are
volatile organic compounds (VOC's), which are subject to increasing regulatory
pressures. A new Federal EPA Regulation limits the VOC content of general
purpose cleaners to a maximum of 10%.
Some products, usually the more expensive cleaners,
are based on terpenes such as d-Limonene. D-Limonene is a VOC and a flammable
liquid. The higher the concentration of d-Limonene in a product, the higher
the VOC level and the stronger the possibility that the product has a flash
There are also some strong cleaners based on
acids, which can cause burns to skin and eyes. Examples include certain
metal cleaners, including most aluminum brighteners. These represent a relatively
small part of the market.
When scanning an SDS for information on the
nature of the product, the following suggestions may be helpful:
1. Usually, in the very first portion of the SDS where company
and product information are given, the "proper shipping name" or
"DOT shipping name" are given. A product, with a high pH may
cause skin irritation and burns, may be indicated by the following shipping
name: Caustic Alkali Liquids, n.o.s. A Flammable product, like d-Limonene,
may say: Flammable Liquids, n.o.s. If not found in the first portion of the
MSDS, this information may be given under some of the latter sections titled
"Transportation Information" or "Regulatory Information".
2. Section 2 of the MSDS usually gives information on the composition
of the product. It always highlights any hazardous ingredients. It may be
limited to hazardous ingredients or it may give information on ingredients
in general, including hazardous ingredients. This section usually gives limits
on worker exposure to airborne vapors and dust. If limits are given as OSHA
TLV's, OSHA PEL's, ACGIH PEL's, ACGIH TWA's or ACGIH STEL's, then the ingredient
is regulated by OSHA and worker exposure must be controlled by the employer,
in accordance with these limits. A summary of ingredients typically found
in industrial cleaners, their functions and hazards is attached.
3. A section that could be anywhere in the MSDS will be titled
"Physical Properties", "Physical and Chemical Properties" or "Physical Characteristics". This
section can provide some important information on the pH of the product and
on its content of volatile organic compounds (VOC's). This information is
not always given, but if it is provided, use the following guidelines to evaluate
pH - If the pH is given without qualification, it is the pH
of the product without dilution. pH's above 12.5 are very aggressive to
skin and eye tissue. pH's below 12.5 are usually of low aggressiveness and
pH's of 7-10 are not considered hazardous. If the pH is given in a diluted
form, the concentration of the product in water will be noted. A 10% dilution
is used with some frequency. At this level, a pH of 11.5 or greater usually
translates to a pH of 12.5 or higher as undiluted product.
% Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) - This
is the weight % of organic ingredients considered to be volatile. Any glycol
ethers or d-Limonene in the formulation will contribute to this figure.
EPA Regulations limit general purpose cleaners to a maximum VOC content
of 10%. If % VOC is not given, but concentrations are given in the composition
section (Section II), you can add up the total of glycol ethers, d-Limonene
and any other solvents to see if they total 10% or more.
4. Other sections of the MSDS can provide more information
concerning the personnel and environmental friendliness of the product. All
of these sections are not always included in the SDS, but you can quickly
scan the document to determine this.
Health Hazard Data, Hazard Identification,
First Aid Measures: These sections will give you a good idea of how aggressive
the product is to skin and eyes, and of how toxic it is, in general.
Ecological Information: This section will indicate if the product is
Regulatory Information: This section will often cover regulation of
the product by all Federal Agencies. The key areas to look for are the following:
- DOT Hazard Class & Proper Shipping
Name. If the product has one of these, it is DOT Hazardous.
- EPA CERLA Reportable Quantity. If there
is a quantity listed, the product is EPA CERLA Hazardous.
- EPA SARA Title III. Will indicate whether
the product has a SARA Title III Hazard and whether a Section 313 Report
- OSHA: States if the product is a hazardous
chemical per the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.
cleaning product hazardous ingredient information:
EFFECTS AND HAZARDS
WHICH CONTAIN INGREDIENT EXAMPLE
the wetting and penetrating ability of the cleaning product.
Lift dirt, oil
and grease from a soiled surface and dissolve, suspend or emulsify them
in the water phase.
used in cleaning products are generally not classified as hazardous. Ionic
surfactants can cause problems in wastewater treatment plants by interfering
with heavy metal removal processes and anionics can cause foaming problems.
all cleaning products contain surfactants.
high pH to boost the cleaner's ability to remove and emulsify oil, grease
and organic dirt.
to buffer the pH.
ingredients elevate the pH of many heavy duty cleaners to the 12-14 range.
pH at this level can cause skin irritation and burns, dull or remove paint,
darken aluminum and etch glass and countertops.
- glycol ethers
with surfactants in a cleaning product to penetrate soil and remove
both water-soluble dirt and water-insoluble grease and oil.
Help dissolve ingredients
of limited water solubility in water-based cleaners.
ethers are solvents, and as such evaporate more rapidly than water,
Contribute to volatile
organic content (VOC)
Butyl ether which
is widely used, is classified as a toxic material by the DOT and personnel
exposure to airborne vapors is regulated by OSHA.
occurring solvents closely related to isoprene and found in lemon oil,
orange oil, pine oil and other essential oils. Solvents for oil and grease.
A volatile organic
Bio T products
water hardness compounds, buffer the pH to maintain alkalinity and emulsify
oily dirt particles to prevent redeposition on cleaned surfaces.
usually contribute to a higher pH and some are hazardous ingredients,
such as sodium metasilicate, but these are covered under "alkalis".
cleaners contain builders that are non-hazardous.
MSDS Report Card (grade your product against our products).