Glossary of Label Elements Included in GHS
Elements of GHS
Globally Harmonized System (GHS) specifies certain elements that should appear together on chemical labels. Like the current pesticide labeling system, hazard statements, pictograms (symbols), and signal words may be required on pesticide labels depending on the toxicity or hazards of the product, while precautionary statements, product identifiers, and supplier information are required on all labels. As some elements would change, EPA recognizes that GHS implementation will require extensive outreach, education and training to promote understanding of the new labels.
- Hazard statement(s): Phrase assigned to each hazard category that describes the nature of the hazard. Examples of hazard statements are: “Harmful if swallowed,” “Highly flammable liquid and vapor” and “Harmful to aquatic life.” GHS hazard statements are based in part on current EPA requirements and are generally very similar, but there are some differences.
- Pictogram(s): A symbol inside a diamond with a red border, denoting a particular hazard class (e.g., acute toxicity/lethality, skin irritation/corrosion, etc.). Five of the GHS pictograms would appear most often on pesticide products.
- Precautionary statement(s): Phrases that describe recommended measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure to a hazardous product, or improper storage or handling of a hazardous product. These phrases cover prevention, response, storage, and disposal of products. GHS provides guidance on precautionary statements and includes a list of statements that may be used. These statements are similar to the precautionary statements that EPA currently uses. Work to increase standardization of precautionary statements may be undertaken in the future.
- Product identifiers: Names or numbers used on a hazardous product label or in a safety data sheet. They provide a unique means by which the product user can identify the chemical substance or mixture. Under the GHS, labels for substances should include the chemical identity of the substance. Labels for mixtures should include the identities of the ingredients that are responsible for certain hazards on the label, except that regulatory authorities may establish rules for protection of Confidential Business Information that preclude ingredient disclosure. (The hazard information would still appear on the label even if the ingredients are not named.) Current EPA requirements for product identifiers are consistent with GHS.
- Signal word: One word used to indicate the relative severity of hazard and alert the reader to a potential hazard on the label and safety data sheet. The GHS includes two signal words:
- “Warning” for less severe hazard categories and;
- “Danger” for more severe hazard categories.
- Supplier identification: Under the GHS supplier identification would include the name, address and telephone number of the manufacturer or supplier of the substance. Current EPA requirements for product identifiers are generally consistent with GHS. EPA encourages but does not require telephone contact numbers on pesticide labels.
Implementing GHS would not change most aspects of the pesticide program. It would not affect supplemental information on labels (such as directions for use and additional hazard information, as long as the information does not contradict or detract from GHS label information), testing methods for health and environmental hazards, data requirements, the scope of hazards covered, policies governing the protection of Confidential Business Information (CBI), or risk management measures.