Commercial suppliers of certain materials are required by law to make available to the purchaser a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each material, warning of any health or safety hazards involved in their use or handling. Purchasers who are familiar with these sheets know that they are typically full of cautions and warnings, and seem rather to be designed to forestall lawsuits than to protect users.
Just how careful some suppliers must feel they have to be is made clear by the following excerpts from a real MSDS from a New Jersey chemical supply company. The MSDS was sent to a customer recently along with the ultra-pure water they had ordered. Then, possibly because they saw how humorous it was for some people, they started putting out a revised version. Revised passages appear in brackets following the original version. Missing parts of the original (because of a bad photocopy) are indicated by three dots.
Section I - Product Identification
|Comm Synonyms:||Dihydrogen Oxide Chemical Family: Water|
Laboratory Protective equipment: Goggles, lab coat
International Labeling: Avoid contact with eyes. After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water. Keep container tightly closed.
[International Labeling: Keep container tightly closed.]
Section V - Health Hazard Data
Toxicity of components:
Intraperitoneal Mouse LD50 for Water: 190 g/kg
Intravenous Mouse LD50 for Water: 25 g/kg
Emergency and First Aid Procedures:
|INGESTION||If swallowed and the person is conscious, immediately... large amounts of water. Get medical attention....|
|INHALATION:||If a person breathes in large amounts, move the... person to fresh air.|
|SKIN CONTACT:||In case of contact, immediately wash skin with... soap and water for at least 15 minutes|
|EYE CONTACT:||In case of eye contact, immediately f lush with... water for at least 15 minutes.|
|[Emergency and First Aid Procedures:|
|SKIN CONTACT:||None required.|
|EYE CONTACT:||None required.]|
Section VII - Spill & Disposal Procedures
Steps to be Taken in the Event of a Spill or Discharge: Take up with sand or other noncombustible absorbent material and place into container for later disposal. Disposal Procedure: Dispose in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local environmental regulations.
Section VIII - Industrial Protective Equipment
Ventilation: Use adequate general or local ventilation to keep vapor and mist levels as low as possible.
(Note following the last section): ... Exposure to this product may have serious adverse health effects.... The user should recognize that this product can cause severe injury and even death, especially if improperly handled or the known dangers of use are not heeded. READ ALL L PRECAUTIONARY INFORMATION....