What To Think About When Reading A Label

Check the Ingredients.
The fewer ingredients listed and mixing together the better. If you understand what they are, the safer the product probably is.

Ingredients are listed in order of concentration.
If the non-toxic ingredients are listed first, there is less chance of harmful exposure by chemicals.

Avoid anything with ‘fragrance’ in the label.
Careful – “fragrances” can be made of hundreds of unlisted unregulated chemicals.

Intentionally confusing chemical names.
Trust product labels that translate chemical names into plain English.

Watch out for meaningless words.
Some commonly accepted words have no legal regulation – like “natural”, “dermatologist-tested”, “botanical”, and even “organic”.


Saftey Data Sheets (SDS)

A (Safety Data Sheet) contains information on health and safety issues for products and materials, including hazards, ingredients, control measures, physical characteristics and special handling procedures for hazardous materials. **THESE ARE NOT REQUIRED TO FOLLOW A STANDARDIZED FORMAT. A company can refuse to disclose a trade secret ingredient by claiming ‘trade secret’. On a label or Safety Data Sheet you would see the following parts:

1. Identification

Section I – Material Identified by Name and Manufacturer

Section II – Hazardous Ingredients and Identity Info

(These are determined by State laws; some require every chemical listed,
some do not.)

2. Chemical Names

Listed by Brand, Common Name, Generic Chemical Family Name, Chemical Specific Name and CAS Number (helpful for looking up product info)

(*All chemicals that make up more than 1% of the material must be listed, .1% of carcinogenics).

3. Exposure Limits

Permissible levels of hazardous ingredients

**Trade Secrets are not required to be listed, but in case of an emergency they must be provided to a medical or health care authority.

4. Behavior

Section III – List of Physical & Chemical Characteristics

Like appearance, odors, how fast they evaporate, at what boiling point will the chemical convert to gas and off-gas.

Section IV – Fire & Explosion Hazards

Flash temperature points that could ignite a spark are listed and what kind of equipment is needed to handle it.

Section V – Reactivity

How chemicals will react with others if stored improperly.

Section VI – Health Hazard Data of the Product or Material

What conditions are made worse by exposure, both short-term and long-term. They should also list emergency procedures for dangerous exposure.

5. Precautions – What to Do:

Section VII – Precautions for Safe Handling and Safe Waste Disposal Methods.

Section VIII – Controls

How to eliminate/diminish hazards, proper handing, ventilation, safe practice.