Safety data sheets (SDSs)

2.1 - Learning outcomes

  • Identify where safety data sheets (SDSs) can be obtained
  • Define the content of the different sections of a safety data sheet
  • Recognize the applicability of the information in each section of a safety data sheet

2.2 - What is a Safety Data Sheet?

A safety data sheet (SDS) is an information sheet that each manufacturer must prepare for the hazardous products they sell. The information contained in an SDS is intended to communicate hazards, properties, handling, storage and disposal guidelines and emergency response requirements. The responsibilities related to SDSs are as follows:

  • Manufacturers must prepare the SDS according to the requirements of Canada’s Hazardous Products Act.
  • Manufacturers (and suppliers) must provide the SDS to anyone purchasing the product or requesting copies.
  • Employers must ensure that their workers know how to access and understand SDSs.
  • The SDS must be available in French and in English.

What does a typical SDS look like?

Subsequent modules will explain in further detail how to apply the content of an SDS. Refer to the SDS page for more examples of safety data sheets.

2.3 - The sections of a safety data sheet

Each manufacturer or supplier must include specific information in their product SDSs. The order, heading titles and structure of the mandatory sections are detailed below. It is of utmost importance to ensure you consult and understand the SDS prior to working with the product!

There are sixteen sections that must be included on any SDS:

Sections of a safety data sheet (SDS) 
1. Identification9. Physical and chemical properties
2. Hazard identification10. Stability and reactivity
3. Composition / information on ingredients11. Toxicological information
4. First aid measures12. Ecological information
5. Firefighting measures13. Disposal considerations
6. Accidental release measures14. Transport information
7. Handling and storage15. Regulatory information
8. Exposure controls / personal protection16. Other information

The subsequent sections of this module review each section of the SDS, including the requirements for each section of the SDS.

2.4 - Identification (section 1)

Section 1 identifies the product name and includes any synonyms or common names. Section 1 also lists the recommended uses and includes any restrictions on product use of which the manufacturer or supplier is aware. This section also includes the name, full address and phone number(s) of the Canadian supplier. An emergency phone number and any restrictions on the use of that number are also included in section 1.

The following examples are generic and exclusively for training purposes.



  • Name: Gasoline


  • Premium gasoline, unleaded gasoline, regular gasoline

Company Identification: 

Company XYZ Scientific
1 Somewhere Street
Anytown, Canada

For information, call: 555-123-1234

Emergency Number: 800-555-1234

For International emergency assistance, call: 888-123-1234

2.5 - Hazard identification (section 2)

Section 2 lists the hazard classification of the substance or mixture, by class and category. For substances in the physical hazards not otherwise classified class, a description of the hazard is included for the user.

The label on the product includes the symbol(s) applicable to the product, a signal word, a hazard statement and precautionary statements and identifies any other hazards not readily classifiable by WHMIS.




Extremely flammable; material will readily ignite at normal temperatures. Flammable Liquid; may release vapours that form flammable mixtures at or above the flash point. Toxic gases will form upon combustion. Static Discharge; material may accumulate static charges which may cause a fire.


INHALATION: High vapour concentrations are irritating to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs; may cause headaches and dizziness; may be anesthetic and may cause other central nervous system effects. Avoid breathing vapours or mists.

EYE CONTACT: Slightly irritating, but will not injure eye tissue.

SKIN CONTACT: Low toxicity. Frequent or prolonged contact may irritate the skin and cause a skin rash (dermatitis).

INGESTION: Low toxicity. Small amounts of this liquid drawn into the lungs from swallowing or vomiting may cause severe health effects (e.g. bronchopneumonia or pulmonary edema).

CHRONIC: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has evaluated gasoline and found it to be a possible human carcinogen. Contains benzene. Human health studies (epidemiology) indicate that prolonged and/or repeated overexposures to benzene may cause damage to the blood producing system and serious blood disorders, including leukemia. Animal tests suggest that prolonged and/or repeated overexposures to benzene may damage the embryo/fetus. The relationship of these animal studies to humans has not been fully established. Contains n-hexane. Prolonged and/or repeated exposures may cause damage to the peripheral nervous system (e.g. fingers, feet, arms etc.). Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) was tested for carcinogenicity, neurotoxicity, chronic, reproductive and developmental toxicity. The NOEL for all endpoints evaluated in three animal species was 400 ppm or greater. An increase in kidney tumors/damage and liver tumors was observed in animals exposed to high concentrations of MTBE. Some embryo/fetal toxicity and birth defects were observed in the offspring of pregnant mice exposed to maternally toxic doses of MTBE, however the offspring of exposed pregnant rabbits were unaffected. The significance of the animal findings at high exposures are not believed to be directly related to potential human health hazards in the workplace.

2.6 - Composition / Information on ingredients (section 3)

Section 3 lists the relevant information on the ingredients used in the product. This includes:

  • Name of the chemical(s) and the common name(s) and any synonyms
  • The Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) registry number

For each product contained in a mixture that is classified in a health hazard class, the above information must be listed in addition to the concentration of each product.



CAS #Chemical Name%
8006-61-9Gasoline>99 V/V
1634-04-4Methyl T-Butyl Ether0-15 V/V

2.7 - First aid measures (section 4)

Section 4 covers immediate first aid measures, by route of exposure:

  • Inhalation
  • Skin contact
  • Eye contact
  • Ingestion

The most important symptoms and effects (either acute or delayed) must be expressly stated on the SDS. If further or immediate medical attention or any special treatment must be provided, it is specified in section 4.



INHALATION: In emergency situations use proper respiratory protection to immediately remove the affected victim from exposure. Administer artificial respiration if breathing has stopped. Keep at rest. Call for prompt medical attention.

EYE CONTACT: Flush eyes with large amounts of water until irritation subsides. If irritation persists, get medical attention.

SKIN CONTACT: Flush with large amounts of water. Use soap if available. Remove severely contaminated clothing (including shoes) and launder before reuse. If irritation persists, seek medical attention.

INGESTION: DO NOT induce vomiting since it is important that no amount of the material should enter the lungs (aspiration). Keep at rest. Get prompt medical attention.

2.8 - Firefighting measures (section 5)

In the event of a fire involving the product, the user must be aware of the suitable extinguishing media. Similarly, the user must be familiar with what not to use to extinguish a fire. For example, different extinguishing media must be used for flammable liquids than those used for regular combustible products. Section 5 also details specific hazards arising from the product when combustion occurs since certain products may produce extremely toxic by-products. In addition, any special protective equipment and precautions to be used by first responders are also listed in section 5.



FIREFIGHTING: Use water spray to cool fire exposed surfaces and to protect personnel. Shut off fuel to fire if possible to do so without hazard. If a leak or spill has not ignited use water spray to disperse the vapours. Either allow fire to burn out under controlled conditions or extinguish with foam or dry chemical. Try to cover liquid spills with foam. Respiratory and eye protection required for fire fighting personnel. Avoid spraying water directly into storage containers due to danger of boilover. A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) should be used for all indoor fires and any significant outdoor fires. For small outdoor fires, which may easily be extinguished with a portable fire extinguisher, use of an SCBA may not be required.

HAZARDOUS COMBUSTION PRODUCTS: Smoke, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide under thermal decomposition.

2.9 - Accidental release measures (section 6)

While material should always be well contained, if and when a spill occurs, you need to know what to do with the product. Section 6 addresses personal precautions, protective equipment and emergency procedures in the event of an accidental release of the product. Procedures for the containment and cleanup of the product are also be listed in section 6 of the SDS.

All spills—no matter how small—are to be reported to:



LAND SPILL: Eliminate source of ignition. Keep public away. Prevent additional discharge of material, if possible to do so without hazard. Vapours or dust may be harmful or fatal. Warn occupants of downwind areas. Prevent spills from entering sewers, watercourses or low areas. Contain spilled liquid with sand or earth. Do not use combustible materials such as sawdust. Recover by pumping (use an explosion proof motor or hand pump), or by using a suitable absorbent. Consult an expert on disposal of recovered material. Ensure disposal in compliance with government requirements and ensure conformity to local disposal regulations. Notify the appropriate authorities immediately. Take all additional action necessary to prevent and remedy the adverse effects of the spill.

WATER SPILL: Eliminate all sources of ignition. Vapours or dust may be harmful or fatal. Warn occupants and shipping in downwind areas. Consult an expert on disposal of recovered material. Ensure disposal in compliance with government requirements and ensure conformity to local disposal regulations. Notify the appropriate authorities immediately. Take all additional action necessary to prevent and remedy the adverse effects of the spill.

2.10 - Handling and storage (section 7)

Section 7 specifies the conditions for the safe storage of the product, conditions to avoid and general precautions for the safe handling of the product.



Handling: Keep containers closed. Handle and open containers with care. In keeping with good personal hygiene practices, wash hands thoroughly after handling the material.

Storage: Store and load at normal (up to 38 deg C) temperature and at atmospheric pressure. Material will accumulate static charges which may cause a spark. Static charge build-up could become an ignition source. Use proper relaxation and grounding procedures. For personnel entry into confined spaces (i.e. bulk storage tanks) a proper confined space entry procedure must be followed including ventilation and testing of tank atmosphere. Empty containers may contain product residue. Do not pressurize cut, heat, or weld empty containers. Do not reuse empty containers without commercial cleaning or reconditioning.

2.11 - Exposure controls / Personal protection (section 8)

Section 8 outlines the exposure control methods based on a hierarchy of hazard controls. Engineered controls are given priority; however, these controls may not fully protect the user. Therefore, additional individual protection measures (i.e., personal protective equipment) may be required.

Occupational exposure limits of the product are also included in section 8 as well as the jurisdiction to which they apply. In some cases, there may be no known occupational exposure limit, which will be denoted by N/A or Not available. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the product is not hazardous.



PERSONAL PROTECTION: The selection of personal protective equipment varies, depending upon conditions of use. In open systems where contact is likely, wear safety goggles, chemical-resistant overalls, and chemically impervious gloves. Where only incidental contact is likely, wear safety glasses with side shields. No other special precautions are necessary provided skin/eye contact is avoided. Where concentrations in air may exceed the occupational exposure limits given in Section 4 and where engineering, work practices or other means of exposure reduction are not adequate, approved respirators may be necessary to prevent overexposure by inhalation.

ENGINEERING CONTROLS: The use of local exhaust ventilation is recommended to control emissions near the source. Laboratory samples should be handled in a fumehood. Provide mechanical ventilation of confined spaces. Use explosion-proof ventilation equipment.

2.12 - Physical and chemical properties (section 9)

Section 9 addresses the physical and chemical properties of the product and includes information on the following topics:

  • Appearance (physical state, colour of the product, e.g., colourless liquid)
  • Odour and the product’s odour threshold (i.e., the level at which you can smell the product). NOTE: some substances may be toxic below their odour threshold
  • pH: the acidity/alkalinity of the product
  • Melting point/freezing point
  • Initial boiling point/boiling range
  • Flash point: the temperature at which a particular product gives off sufficient vapour to ignite in air
  • Evaporation rate
  • Flammability
  • Lower flammable/explosive limit: the lower limit of flammability of a gas or vapour at ordinary ambient temperatures, expressed in percent
  • Upper flammable/explosive limit: the upper limit of flammability of a gas or vapour at ordinary ambient temperatures expressed in percent
  • Vapour pressure
  • Vapour density: a gas with a vapour density of less than one will rise in air while a gas with a vapour density greater than one will generally sink in air
  • Relative density
  • Solubility
  • Partition coefficient: n-octanol/water
  • Auto-ignition temperature
  • Decomposition temperature: temperature at which the product chemically decomposes
  • Viscosity

It is important to note that in some cases, there may be no known value or qualifier able to be assigned to a particular category. This will be denoted by:

  • Not available, – which means that the information could not be found, located or does not exist
  • Not applicable, – which means that the information is not relevant to the product for which the SDS was created



Physical State: Liquid
Specific gravity: not available
Viscosity: 0.80 cSt at 20 deg C
Vapour Density: 3.2
Boiling Point: 35 to 210 deg C
Evaporation rate: >10 (1= n-butylacetate)
Solubility in water: negligible
Freezing/Pour Point: -60 deg C less than
Odour Threshold: not available
Vapour Pressure: 76 kPa to 103 kPa at 38 deg C
Density: 0.73 g/cc at 15 deg C
Appearance/odour: Naturally occurring water white or pale yellow; may be dyed a variety of colours for tax or other purposes; petroleum odour.
Flashpoint and method: -40 deg C COC D92 less than/moins de
Autoignition: NA Flammable Limits: LEL: 1.4% UEL: 7.6%

2.13 - Stability and reactivity (section 10)

The stability and reactivity of a product is defined in section 10. The section includes, in general terms, any possibility of hazardous reactions, specific conditions to avoid (shock, vibration, etc.), any incompatible materials (i.e., water with reactive metals) and any hazardous products generated if the product decomposes.



STABILITY: This product is stable. Hazardous polymerization will not occur.



2.14 - Toxicological information (section 11)

Section 11 provides a description of the various toxic health effects inherent to the product and the data used to determine the effects, including:

  • The likely routes of exposure to the product
  • Potential health symptoms related to the product characteristics
  • Delayed, immediate, chronic effects from exposures




Based on animal testing data from similar materials and products, the acute toxicity of this product is expected to be:
Oral : LD50 > 18 ml/kg (Rat)
Dermal : LD50 > 5 ml/kg (Rabbit)


Manufacturer Recommends:
For gasoline, 300 mg/m3.
For Methyl-tert-Butyl Ether, 25 ppm (90 mg/m3) 8-hour TWA and 75 ppm (270 mg/m3) 15-minute STEL.

ACGIH recommends:
For Gasoline, ACGIH recommends a TWA of 300 ppm (890 mg/m3) and categorizes it as an animal carcinogen.
For n-Hexane (skin), 50 ppm (176 mg/m3).
For Benzene, ACGIH recommends a TWA of 0.5 ppm (1.6 mg/m3), (skin), and categorizes it as a confirmed human carcinogen.
For Methyl-tert-Butyl Ether, ACGIH recommends a TLV of 40 ppm (144 mg/m3) an categorizes it as an animal carcinogen.

Local regulated limits may vary.

2.15 - Ecological information (section 12)

Section 12 defines environmental considerations, such as the product’s:

  • Ecotoxicity
  • Persistence and degradability
  • Bioaccumulative potential
  • Mobility in soil
  • Any other adverse environmental effects



All components of this product are either on the Domestic Substances List (DSL) or are exempt.

2.16 - Disposal considerations (section 13)

Section 13 briefly outlines recommended safe disposal methods. At uOttawa, please refer to the hazardous waste management program, coordinated at your faculty or service through the Office of the Chief Risk Officer.



Refer to local regulations.

2.17 - Transport information (section 14)

Information related to the transport of the product is contained with section 14 of the SDS. Section 14 includes the following information on the product:

  • UN number
  • UN proper shipping name
  • Transport hazard class(es)
  • Packing group
  • Environmental hazards
  • Bulk transport considerations (if applicable)
  • Any other special transportation precautions.

If you are shipping hazardous products, you may require additional training. Transportation of Dangerous Goods is available from the Office of the Chief Risk Officer. Refer to section 5.6 for more information.




Shipping Name: Gasoline
Class: 3
Packing Group: II
PIN Number: UN1203
Marine Pollutant:P

Refer to other regulations.

2.18 - Regulatory information (section 15)

Section 15 defines the safety, health and environmental regulations specific to the product. In some cases, there may not be any additional applicable regulations.



This product has been classified in accordance with the hazard criteria of the Controlled Products Regulations and the SDS contains all the information required by the Controlled Products Regulations.

2.19 - Other information (section 16)

Finally, section 16 provides any other pertinent information on the product. In most cases, the date of the latest revision of the SDS appears in section 16. Ensure that you have the most up-to-date SDS for your product.



SDS Creation Date: 1/1/2001, Revision Date: 1/1/2018

The information above is generic in content and used for the purposes of training only.

2.20 - Where can I find a safety data sheet at uOttawa?

You can get an SDS from the supplier of the hazardous product or from the Office of the Chief Risk Officer SDS databases page. SDS sources are listed for both chemical and biological products and allow users to search by manufacturer, supplier or chemical name.

Chemical products

Risk Management, on behalf of uOttawa, subscribes to the Chemwatch database, which can be accessed for free while on campus.

Biological products

Public Health Agency of Canada has an online database of SDSs for human and terrestrial animal pathogens, known as pathogen safety data sheets.

Emergency situations

In the event of an emergency in which electronic access to safety data sheets is not available (such as a power outage, network outage, earthquake or computer virus), Protection Services can provide information from a backup copy from a USB storage device and maintains back-up computer systems.

If you require access to an SDS in an emergency situation and access is not available via the usual means (your supervisor, Chemwatch, your local health, safety and risk manager (HSRM), the Office of the Chief Risk Officer, etc.), contact Protection Services at ext. 5411 to request the SDS.

2.21 - Updated SDSs

SDSs must be accurate at the time of sale of the product. An SDS must be updated when the supplier becomes aware of any significant new data, which is defined under section 5.12 (1) of the Hazardous Products Regulations as:

New data regarding the hazard presented by a hazardous product that changes its classification in a category or subcategory of a hazard class, or result in its classification in another hazard class, or change the ways to protect against the hazard presented by the hazardous product.

This means that the SDS must be updated when there is new information that changes how the hazardous product is classified or when there are changes to how the product is handled or stored or to the ways to protect the user from the hazard(s) of the product. Suppliers have 90 days to update the SDS with the significant new data. If a hazardous product is sold during this 90-day grace period, the supplier must provide the buyer (i.e., the employer) with the significant new data in writing and the date on which the data became available.

Suppliers are not required to inform past buyers of a hazardous product that significant new data is available. Therefore, the updated SDS is provided to the purchaser with subsequent purchases. Employers, however, still have a responsibility to ensure worker protection.

Remember that changes to the SDS may also result in changes to the way the product is physically labelled.