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Accessing Chemical Safety Information


Recommendations for Integration:

This unit could be used at the initiation of a Chemistry in Your World type course to serve two purposes: to reinforce the concept that chemicals play an important role in our daily lives and also to introduce the concept of personal responsibility for the safe use of chemicals.

The manufacturer SC Johnson provides MSDSs for each of their products on a company website that could be a resource for students who are not able to locate an MSDS independently. Using this site to look up an MSDS for "Drano" provides an opportunity to explain the significant differences in similar sounding product names. It is important to use the exact name to insure the appropriate information is obtained.

The United States National Institutes of Health maintains a user-friendly source of safety information on their website at: This site can be searched by product type, and brand name.

Provide help with sending email and attachments used paired students as needed.

Provide guidance on expectations for the verbal description of the selected product.


Before Preclass Assignment A is made, prepare printed copies of a sample MSDS that could be used by students who did not have computer access.

During classroom discussion, have available a printed glossary of the relevant terms such as that found at:

When explaining how safety information can be located on the internet, provide for classroom computer access if possible or assign students to work as teams of two with a computer less-literate student paired with a computer more-literate student. Have printed copies of safety informatioin available for a selection of commercial products from which the students can select a product of interest to them.