Information on hazardous substances–some useful websites

There is a lot of information on hazardous substances the Internet, but not all of it is properly validated. Finding the information you need just by carrying out a search using a search engine can be frustrating as it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. However, there are a number of good quality online databases that can be accessed free of charge on the Internet. These are some that I find particularly useful

Toxnet

The US National Library of Medicine’s Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) operates TOXNET®, an integrated database system of hazardous chemicals, toxic releases and environmental health.

Particularly useful are

ChemIDplus – A dictionary of over 370,000 chemicals (names, synonyms, and structures) which also includes links to other databases and resources.

Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) – A databases containing comprehensive, peer-reviewed toxicology data for about 5,000 chemicals.

TOXLINE – A bibliographic database containing references from the toxicology literature. In most cases abstracts are included and they often provide enough information for a practising occupational hygienist.

Other databases on TOXNET® have information on carcinogenicity and mutagenicity test results, genetic toxicology test data and chemicals that can present a developmental and reproductive hazard

ECHA C&L Inventory database

The Classification and Labelling Inventory database, run by the European Chemicals Agency, contains classification and labelling information on notified and registered substances received from manufacturers and importers. It also includes the list of harmonised classifications. The database is refreshed regularly with new and updated notifications.

IFA Databases

The German Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA, Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance) has a number of very useful databases. These include

GESTIS – International limit values for chemical agents Occupational exposure limits (OELs)

This database contains occupational exposure limit values for about 1,700 substances, from various EU member states, Australia, Canada (Ontario and Québec), Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States as of March 2012.

It can be viewed online and is also available as app for iPhone, iPodtouch, iPad and Android

GESTIS DNEL Database

A DNEL – or Derived No-Effect Level – are used as part of the REACH risk assessment process and are defined as

“the level of exposure to the substance above which humans should not be exposed”.

The GESTIS DNEL Database provides workplace-related DNELs which have been established by manufacturers and importers under their own responsibility and have been published by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)

The database can be viewed online or downloaded as an excel spreadsheet.

GESTIS-database on hazardous substances

A database with information on approximately 8000 substances, including chemical and physical properties, basic toxicological data, advice on handling and first aid information.

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Android Apps for Occupational Hygienists

 

In my last post I listed some free to download apps for the iPhone and iPad that can be useful for occupational hygienists. Here are some free apps that can be downloaded on Android phones.

Wiser

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Also available for the iPhone/iPad, Windows and online. Designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents this app has some very useful information on the chemical and physical characteristics and human health data for a large number of chemicals.

 

Dangerous Goods Manual

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Another resource providing key information on hazardous substances

Cargo Decoder

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Another free resource with information on hazardous substances, primarily aimed at first responders.

 

 

IH Dig

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Also available for the iPhone / iPad, IH DIG (Industrial Hygiene Data Interpretation Game) is a game which allows occupational hygienists to test their skills at anticipating exposure data. A useful educational tools, and not just for those new to the field!

 

If anyone has other recommendations to add to the above, why not post a comment.

IPAD Apps for Occupational Hygienists

In a previous post I looked at some websites that I use regularly to find information on chemical hazards. I suspect that many occupational hygienists have an Android phone, iPhone, iPad or Android tablet that they carry around with them. Although these can be used to access the websites I mentioned in my post, there are also a number of useful apps that can downloaded from iTunes or Android Play (what used to be called the Android Marketplace).

These are some iPad iPhone that I’ve found useful. (I’ll follow up with a post on apps for Android phones)

IH Calculator Lite

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This one “does what it says on the tin”. Its described as

“an interactive calculator that performs occupational health and safety calculations to aid industrial hygienists.”

It allows the user to carry out various key calculations on noise, heat stress and ventilation. The formulae are American and so use Imperial units, which can be a particular problem with ventilation calculations. But the app does include a module that converts from Imperial to SI units.

iPhone Screenshot 1

 

Wiser

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A mobile version of the US National Library of Medicine’s WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders). Although designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents this app has some very useful information on the chemical and physical characteristics and human health data for a large number of chemicals.

iPhone Screenshot 1

 

Gestis

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A German database which includes occupational exposure limits for over 15000 hazardous substances from various EU member states, Canada (Québec), Japan, Switzerland, and the United States as of January 2011.

iPhone Screenshot 1

 

Hazmat Load

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This app the uses "Segregation for Hazardous Materials" and "Class 1 Explosives Compatibility" Tables to allow the user to determine whether materials need to be segregated during transportation.

iPhone Screenshot 1

 

Chem safety

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An app giving access to the International Chemical Safety Cards [ICSC] which summarize essential health and safety information on chemicals for their use at the "shop floor" level by workers and employers.

iPhone Screenshot 2

 

HazRef Lite

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A portable database of over 2,000 hazardous materials as identified by the US Department of Transportation. Each material is identified by: proper shipping name, United Nation’s designated number, DOT hazard class and placard and more.

iPhone Screenshot 2

 

IH DIG for iPad

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IH DIG (Industrial Hygiene Data Interpretation Game) is a game which allows occupational hygienists to test their skills at anticipating exposure data. A useful educational tools, and not just for those new to the field!

 

If anyone has other recommendations to add to the above, why not post a comment.

Finding out about hazardous substances

It’s a long time ago now, but when I was a young occupational hygienist working in a large in-house department employed by a major manufacturer, our boss used to encourage people to visit the department to find out about what we did. He always used to start his tour at our comprehensive library of books, journals and other publications, pointing out that “you’re only as good as your information sources”. I think he was right. Occupational hygienists deal with a large range of occupational hazards, particularly chemicals. We need to know about their harmful effects, how to sample for them and what exposure limits are applicable. It just isn’t possible to memorise every fact about every chemical we might encounter. Of course, most hygienists over the course of time will tend to become familiar substances they come across regularly. Even then it can be dangerous to rely too much on memory. Knowledge is constantly moving forward and it’s very easy to become out of date. So it’s important to have good sources of information to hand.

Twenty or thirty years ago we largely had to rely on hard copy sources such as books and journals. It wasn’t so easy to move these around with you and they could become out of date fairly quickly. Things have moved on a lot since then with the advent of the internet. Comprehensive information can be obtained over the web which can be readily accessed on the move via mobile phones and tablet computers. And there’s more chance that it will reflect the current state of knowledge.

Of course, there’s a lot of un-validated information on the Web, much of it of dubious quality, so it’s important to use proper, credible sources. The websites of Regulatory bodies such as the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and National Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are always good places to start. There’s also some good databases provided free of charge by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM).

The following are some websites that I use regularly to find information on chemical hazards :

Information on the effects of hazardous substances

TOXNET – this is a suite of data bases including :

  • TOXLINE (a bibliographic database providing details and abstracts from articles in journals).
  • HSDB, providing comprehensive details on a large number of substances – almost like very comprehensive safety data sheets.
  • ChemIDplus – a database of over 370,000 chemicals  providing details such as synonyms, and structure and toxicity test data. It also includes links to the other databases.
  • CCRIS – Carcinogenicity and mutagenicity test results for over 8,000 chemicals.
  • DART) – References to developmental and reproductive toxicology literature.

WISER – although primarily designed to provide information for people responding to hazardous material incidents, WISER includes very useful information chemical and physical characteristics and human health data. It’s available to use via the web but there are also versions that can be downloaded and installed on PCs, iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch, Android devices, Windows Mobile devices, and BlackBerry devices.

NIOSH Documentation for Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentrations (IDLHs) – this database lists the atmospheric concentration of substances that present an immediate threat to life or would cause irreversible or delayed adverse health effects or would interfere with an individual’s ability to escape from a dangerous atmosphere.

International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSC) – a data base of summary data sheets intended to provide essential safety and health information on chemicals in a clear and concise way

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards – a quick reference guide giving brief details on acute and chronic effects and other information

Sampling

NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods – all the NIOSH methods are available as pdf files to view or download. Although the bulk of the documents are devoted to the analytical procedures, they also include details on the sampling method – collection medium and device and recommendations on sample flow rate and volume.

Methods for the Determination of Hazardous Substances (MDHS) – pdf files of the HSE’s standard sampling and analytical methods.

GESTIS – Analytical methods – a German database that contains validated methods for 123 substances from various EU member states

Exposure Limits

EH40 – the list of UK Workplace Exposure Limits can be downloaded as a pdf file from here

GESTIS – International limit values for chemical agents – a German database which includes occupational exposure limits for over 15000 hazardous substances from various EU member states, Canada (Québec), Japan, Switzerland, and the United States as of January 2011. It’s also available as an app for iPhones and iPads.

HSE Publications

HSE publications  can be read on-line or downloaded from here.

What information sources do you regularly refer to?