Project Overview
Student Learning Objectives
Content Material
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Supplementary Resources

Accessing Chemical Safety Information

Procedure for the Instructor

Time: Three classroom presentations of 15, 30 and 30 minutes, 75 minutes total

Materials: Prerequisites: Familiarity with use of an internet browser. Basic knowledge of a word processing program. Familiary with email including sending and receiving attachments.

Implementation: This RWLO includes a pre-class assignment, in class explanation and collaboration (live or online, as desired), and finally individudal research and email submission.


  1. Assign "Pre-class Assignment A"
    • Provide students with a sample MSDS on a familiar product such as Windex window cleaner. Ask students to look over the sheet at home before class and circle any unfamiliar or confusing terminology. Students are directed in Preclass Assignment A to send to the instructor, via email, a list of words for which they do not know the meaning. Instructors should prepare to help students locate the appropriate vocabulary during Classroom session A. The student content materials page lists a websource for the vocabulary specific to Material Safety Data Sheets.
  2. Facilitate classroom session A:
    • Instructor will make a presentation explaining the intent of a Material Safety Data Sheet and the the main sections of a standard sheet. A reference for this presentation is listed below. A helpful website is maintained by the SC Johnson Company which can be used as an example of a typical household product material safety data sheet source.
    • A more consumer friendly version of safety information can also be found at a site maintained by the National Institutes of Health.
    • The instructor will use examples of words or terms which students did not understand and help students in locating the meaning of examples of the identified unclear terminology.
    • The list of unknown words may be divided among the class members and all students may be asked to post to a master list, via discussion board or email (as appropriate), which will then be available to all students in the class.
  3. Assign Pre-class Assignment B : Students will create a glossary of MSDS terms they have clarified for themselves and submit to the instructor.
    • Submit the vocabulary with explanations via email or discussion board as directed by your instructor.
    • Choose a chemical product you routinely use in your home for which you will locate an MSDS. Good candidates are those products which contain an ingredient list on the label. Perhaps you will find it under your kitchen sink or on a high shelf.
  4. Facilitate classroom session B:
    • Instructor will identify and demonstrate the use of databases on the internet which may be used to locates MSDSs.
    • Instructor will show students examples of MSDSs for products who may have the same name, but vary in content. For example the product Drano exists in various formulations. It is important for students to confirm that they are using the appropriate MSDS for the product they are researching.
  5. Assign Pre-class Assignment C
    • Use what you have learned to locate safety information on a household chemical product. Review the information and write a paragraph summarizing the concerns of which one must be aware when using this chemical. In conclusion, be sure to mention any changes in how you would handle the chemical in the future. based on what you learned from reviewing the MSDS.
    • Save the paragraph as a document and send to your instructor via email as an attachment.
    • Prepare to give a brief verbal report to the class on how the particular product you selected should be handled for maximum safety.
  6. Facilitate classroom session C:
    • Students will be asked to make brief oral presentations regarding the information they have found on the safety of a household chemical product.

Instructor Resources:

Overview of the sections of an MSDS

Glossary resource: