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Chemical hazards are of two basic types: emergency situations presenting imminent danger to humans or the environment and existing hazards such as dump sites or chemical storage areas. The information requirements and tools available for responding to these two types of hazards are different, and the Micro-CSIN Workstation developed by Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) under the sponsorship of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), can respond to both.
Emergencies require rapid access to factual data. The Micro-CSIN Workstation permits rapid retrieval of factual data stored in three databases: Hazardous Substances Data Bank (NLM/TOXNET), Hazardline (OHS), and Ohmtads (CIS) according to a prestored, userspecified, retrieval profile. The data are then organized by subject area into a report. The Workstation also has the ability to rapidly retrieve chemical identification information.
In a nonemergency situation, it is possible to carry out a more thorough search of the literature. The Micro-CSIN Workstation makes use of a general bibliographic script to access and retrieve any of several hundred bibliographic databases available through Bibliographic Retrieval Systems (BRS), Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), Dialog, NLM, and Systems Development Corp. (SDC). These more current and in-depth data can be used to supplement the chemical summary information.
For a company responding to the right-to-know laws, the chemical summaries are ideal, especially if supplemented by additional, more recently published results. One way of organizing right-to-know information is to organize all data into two computerized files using a database management software package. BBN uses RS/1, one of its software products. The two files cover (1) product-related information and (2) chemical-related information, and the files are cross-indexed. The structures of these files are presented along with a possible data management scheme for storing and manipulating local site data, material safety data sheets (MSDSs), chemical content information, and chemical-specific data needed to respond to the laws. It is in identifying and retrieving chemical-specific data that the Micro-CSIN Workstation technology is particularly valuable.
workstation, emergency, right to know, network, microcomputer, CSIN, bibliographic, factual, numeric, hazard, chemical, MSDS
Project director, Roy F. Weston, Inc., Washington, DC
Staff scientist, Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc., Arlington, VA