Often users, managers and industrial hygienists want to know the hazards associated with the chemicals that they use. There are many resources available for information on chemical hazards, including governmental and private sources. One of the more comprehensive sources is the European Chemical Agency (ECHA). The ECHA provides a lot of information in a relatively simple to use format; but this database is not widely known on this side of the Atlantic.
The ECHA has the goal to be the preeminent source for chemical safety information in the world. This agency was created under the European Union’s REACH program. REACH stands for the Registration, sickness Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances and went into law June 2007. Manufacturers and importers are required to gather information, including safety information, on the chemicals they manufacture, and to provide it to the ECHA which in turn provides public access to this information via an online searchable database. This database is a great resource for anyone looking to find safety information about chemicals commonly used in the workplace. Using peracetic acid (PAA) as an example,
the ECHA search engine for hazardous chemicals is available at http://echa.europa.eu/web/guest/information-on-chemicals/registered-substances. Simple enter “peracetic” into the search line and click on the disclaimer box brings up a link to the dossier for PAA. Click on view to access the information. The information is divided into nine general categories:
Classification and Labelling
Manufacture, Use & Exposure
Physical and chemical properties
Environmental fate and pathways
Guidance on safe use
For those people who want more general information, the Guidance on Safe Use Section provides general advice on using PAA, first aid measures, labels, exposure levels (for acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide) etc.
For those people who want more detail, for example information on research conducted on the chemical safety aspects of a particular compound, this level of information, chemical compatibility, is also available. Clicking on Toxicological Information generates the following submenu:
Toxicokinetics, metabolism and distribution
Irritation / corrosion
Repeated dose toxicity
Toxicity to reproduction
Selecting Acute Toxicity
Acute toxicity: oral
Acute toxicity: inhalation
Acute toxicity: dermal
Acute toxicity: other routes
The Acute Toxicity Inhalation section gives a list of 14 summaries of research studies on the acute inhalation toxicity of PAA. The long menu structures above are included in order to give an idea of how much information is available at this website.
This website offers a lot of safety information in summary form that is easy to use for the individual who just needs general guidance, but the website also has a lot of other information for those people who need more detail.
The ECHA is a Valuable Source of Chemical Safety Information