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Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

SDS's include information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures for hazardous substances.

What are SDS?

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are basically brief informative fact sheets on specific hazardous substances.

"The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) to communicate the hazards of hazardous chemical products. As of June 1, 2015, the HCS will require new SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include the section numbers, the headings, and associated information."--

"The SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical."--

They are a "component of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard. This regulation, announced in August 1987, requires employers to provide information to employees about hazardous chemicals used in the workplace through SDS, proper labels, and training programs” (Van Camp, p. 97). The regulation covers private, public, industry, and non-industry uses by any employee of any chemical that may have potentially harmful effects.


Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are valuable resources. These sheets are published by the manufacturers of the materials listed on each sheet. Mandatory information to use in citation are:

  • title of data sheet
  • name of the mateiral
  • SDS number
  • name of manufacturing company
  • location of company
  • date when document was released
  • "online" is added in brackets after MSDS number if using an online version complete wirh URL and data accessed


ACS Style Guide 2006 edition addresses how to cite an SDS.

Hard copy (paper) SDS
Titanium Dioxide; SDS No. T3627; Mallinckrodt Baker: Phillipsburg, NJ, November 12, 2003.

SDS obtained from an Internet search
Titanium Dioxide; SDS No. T3627; Mallinckrodt Baker: Phillipsburg, NJ, November 12, 2003. (accessed 4/15/04).

SDS obtained from a database source such as CCOHS
Titanium Dioxide; MSDS No. T3627; Mallinckrodt Baker: Phillipsburg, NJ, November 12, 2003. Available from Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. - response=detail.html&-op=eq&MSDS+RECORD+NUMBER=3767394&-search (accessed 4/15/04).

As required by federal regulation, SDS are kept on file at the Environmental Health and Safety Office and they also recommend each department using the chemicals keep a paper copy on hand for consultation.

The ISU Chemistry Department has online versions of their SDS available here.

EHS also offers an online request form for ISU affiliates needing copies of a specific SDS.

See the EHS SDS webpage for further details and contact information.

Some libraries have chosen not to collect SDS and instead have purchased reference texts which provide similar information. The most popular of these over the years has been:

Do these contain information identical to SDS? No, but they can serve as a cheaper alternative. Sax’s 11th edition, 2005, covers the largest number of substances and is newer but is considerably more expensive ($995) than the other two sets. Genium’s is the cheapest ($425) and has a much more reader-friendly format but covers fewer substances than the other two sets and was published in 1999.

How to read an MSDS sheet

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