Ohio State University Extension http://agsafety.osu.edu

Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Ohio State University Extension

Hazardous Chemical Awareness

Kent McGuire—OSU Ag Safety and Health

According to the EPA's Emergency Response Community Involvement Program, individuals should stay informed about the presence of hazardous substances in their local area. An important aspect of emergency management is to recognize a hazardous substance release and understand what to do in the event of a release. Recognizing the warning signs of a chemical release can mean the difference between a minor incident and a tragic event. Should an individual discover a hazardous substance release, report it quickly to local officials and take precautions to put your own safety first.

There are several ways to recognize the presence of a hazardous substance or the warning signs of a hazardous substance release. An individual’s senses may initially detect hazardous substances: a foul odor, unusually colored flames, visible leak or gas cloud from a storage container, vehicle or facility, even the increased pitch of a pressure relief valve on a container. Never assume gases and vapors are harmless because they lack odor, many odorless gases or vapors can be extremely harmful. It may also be possible to identify hazardous substances from a label or placard. The federal government has a system of labeling containers used to store or transport hazardous substances that uses colors and symbols to designate potential hazards. The following are some of the major colors and symbols of the different hazard classes:

 

Hazardous Materials

Hazard Class

Color

Symbol

Explosives

Orange

Starburst

Non-flammable Gases

Green

Cylinder

Flammable Gases or Liquids

Red

Flame

Flammable Solids

Red/White Stripes

Flame

Oxidizers

Yellow

Flaming Ball

Poisons

White

Skull & Crossbones

Radioactives

Yellow/White

Propeller

Corrosives

White/Black

Test Tube

 

It is always best to be cautious and treat potential releases as real threats involving hazardous substances, until authorities have properly identified the chemical. For more information about the EPA's Emergency Response Community Involvement Program go to https://www.epa.gov/emergency-response/community-involvement-during-emergency-responses.

For more information about Emergency Management contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at mcguire.225@osu.edu or 614-292-0588.