Do you worry about what is in that detergent or cleaning product? How green is it really? What do I do if it gets on my skin? Is it dangerous?
We have often cited Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS in our analysis of cleaning and construction products. What are they?
Newer SDS’s have a structured format and required information that MSDS’s were not required to have.
What is a SDSs or MSDS?
They are occupational safety and health documents used to describe a products ingredients, what they are, are they hazardous, how to store them, reactivity, storage, disposal, toxicity, health affects, what should be done if there is an accident, regulatory issues, etc. Vendors have to undertake manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal of hazardous materials and chemicals to complete these documents. There are even MSDS docs for things like Mustard gas, VX Nerve gas!
OSHA and the EPA set up regulations that require MSDS documents on certain products. Harmful substances used in the workplace are required to have these documents.
Related versions of documents are safety data sheet (SDS), or product safety data sheet (PSDS).
Where can I find SDSs or MSDS documents
Often manufacturers have links to SDSs or MSDS documents on their website or require you to email them asking for them. This site has links to many MSDS docs. NIH has a database of Household Products.
When checking out the greenness of a product, be sure to look for its MSDS document and READ it. Email or call the company and ask for an MSDS document.
They are not meant for consumers! An SDS reflects the hazards of working with the material in an occupational fashion – everyday. For example, an SDS for paint is not highly pertinent to someone who uses a can of paint once in a while, but is extremely important to someone who uses that paint 40 hours a week.
Still knowing the hazards involved in working with a material are good. Ingredient lists, etc.. More information is better.
Costco SDS and MSDS Information
How do you get safety information for Costco product? Calling Costco at 800-774-2678 lead to a recommendation to call their supplier for these products, Huish detergents – Sun Products, at 800-776-6702. You can call them and ask for the MSDS documents.
Green Household Products
Many people are learning to use MSDS documents to understand how toxic a product is. We have several blog posts with lists of Greener alternatives household products.
- Green Summer Preparation Tips and Season Home Preparation Tips
- What is a Natural Cleaner or Natural Home Care Product?
- Costco Kirkland Signature Eco Friendly Cleaners
- Ortho Home Defense MAX Green alternatives – Roundup Herbicide Alternatives
Household Product Ingredients
SC Johnson, makers of Pledge and Windex has a new site that lists ingredients in their products. I noticed that the website contains most of their products, including the Windex products shown on the home page of the site. You no longer have to dig for MSDS documents. Clearly the green oriented brands like Seventh Generation, Method, and the like are starting to affect the mainstream brands.
“Through our Greenlist™ process, each potential ingredient receives a rating from 3 to 0. An ingredient with a 3 rating is considered “Best,” 2 is “Better,” 1 is “Acceptable” and 0-rated materials are used only on a limited, approved basis when there is not a viable alternative. Whenever possible, we work toward replacing these 0-rated materials with those that have a preferable environmental or health profile.”
A consumer who sued cited paying about 50% more and not getting a product that was very green.
This article describes the efforts and covers the controversy behind some chemicals like monoethanolamine in Mr Clean and Formula 409. 2-butoxyethanol in Simple Green is another chemical that I would just avoid.
Have you ever looked at a MSDS or SDS document?