Sunday, February 18, 2007

What is a MSDS and why should crafters care about them?

Lydia asks:
I saw you mention an MSDS in a previous post - what the heck are they?

An MSDS is a Material Safety Data Sheet. It is required in America and Canada (and probably other countries too) to be prepared by the manufacturer of a chemical. It details the properties of the chemical such as it's physical properties, hazards to personnel, fire and explosion potential, safe handling and disposal recommendations, and health effects. In the US the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) requires these to be in the workplace where hazardous chemicals are located. Why should we, as crafters, care about them? Because they can affect our health. Have you ever noticed a particularly strong chemical smell when you've opened a glue or other item? You usually don't want to breathe that in ... to find out if it is dangerous and if you should use a respirator or just adequate ventilation you can refer to the MSDS.

Fabric artists who like to mangle and melt need to be aware of these. Incomplete combustion of certain materials can release a plethora of dangerous chemicals. An MSDS will detail this.

Although there are databases with commonly used chemicals (by brand name) on the Internet the best way to get one is to contact the manufacturer. If you'd like to see what one looks like here is a page with all of Delta Creative's MSDSs.

Hope this answers your question.

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