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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication standard, state and local right-to-know laws, and a heightened public awareness of environmental issues have created new demands for information on the toxicological properties of chemicals and products. Several computer-searchable database producers have attempted to respond to these new demands by collecting and managing the growing amount of data and generally making it more easily and widely available.
Transforming this data into usable information presents some problems, especially since some of it may be of questionable quality or value. How do we increase our management's, our employees', and our customers' understanding of the true hazards associated with chemicals and products? What and how do we communicate to our various audiences—plant workers, health and safety professionals, management, marketing personnel, customers, and legislators? How do we ensure that we are providing information that is not only accurate and complete, but also usable and understandable? This paper presents one industrial organization's approach to the problems of handling toxicity information.
Celanese Corp. believes that information of the toxic properties of any chemical used in the company's processes or the toxicity of the company's final products is a basic component in the chemical's risk assessment. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) will effectively communicate accurate environmental, health, and safety information. Significant toxicological data will be communicated to employees, affected customers, regulatory authorities, and the public. The Toxicology Department has developed two documents, a Toxicity Summary and a Toxicity Evaluation, that can be used at the beginning of the communication process.
All those at Celanese involved in hazards communication share two ongoing responsibilities. One is for continuous analysis and verification of data on the toxic effects of chemicals. The second is to impart quality information to others—be it as an MSDS, a “Dear Customer” letter, or a briefing to employees—that will heighten their awareness and increase their understanding. It has been and will continue to be a learning process.
toxicity data, communication of, information sources—toxicology, bibliographic data bases, source data bases, risk assessment
Product safety coordinator, Celanese Fibers, Charlotte, NC