Pesticide Labels and GHS: Comparison and Samples
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a worldwide initiative to promote standard criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health, physical and environmental hazards. It uses pictograms, hazard statements, and the signal words “Danger” and “Warning” to communicate hazard information on product labels and safety data sheets in a logical and comprehensive way.
The primary goal of GHS is better protection of human health and the environment by providing chemical users and handlers, emergency first responders and the public with enhanced and consistent information on chemical hazards.
On this page:
- How GHS affects pesticides
- Benefits of using GHS for product labels
- GHS and pesticide labels
- Additional information
EPA has not adopted GHS for pesticide product classification and labeling. In most cases, GHS hazard statements and pictograms should not appear on pesticide product labels sold and distributed in the United States.
If adopted, GHS will provide an internationally consistent basis for classifying chemical hazards. Once hazards are classified, GHS will also ensure that signal words, pictograms and hazard statements have the same meaning in all settings, domestically and internationally. This will simplify hazard communication and result in safer transportation, handling, and use of pesticides. This approach will benefit all countries that adopt GHS and should be particularly useful for countries without well developed regulatory systems.
GHS also will reduce costly and time-consuming activities needed to comply with multiple classification and labeling systems, promoting more consistency in regulation and reducing non-tariff barriers to trade.
Currently, EPA uses two pictograms: a version of the skull and crossbones for the most severe categories of acute toxicity and a flame symbol for certain highly flammable pesticides. The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) includes a number of additional pictograms.
Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires Safety Data Sheets under its Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), which includes safety data sheets for pesticide products. The OSHA published a rule (77 Federal Register 17574-17896, March 26, 2012) to align its hazard communication standard and safety data sheet requirements with the GHS.
To reconcile the GHS hazard information that is now required in OSHA safety data sheets with the hazard information required on pesticide product labels and to explain how registrants can ensure that their FIFRA labeling and safety data sheets comply with EPA's requirements, EPA issued a pesticide registration notice (PRN 2012-1). In that notice, EPA recommends that pesticide registrants include in their safety data sheets the hazard information required on FIFRA labeling and a brief explanation of differences between that information and the safety data sheet hazard information. The PR Notice includes sample language that may be used. For guidance on ensuring FIFRA labeling and MSDS compliance with GHS requirements, refer to PRN 2012-1.
- United Nations site Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
- U.S. Department of Labor Hazard Communcation
- U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: Global Harmonization of Hazard Classification and Labeling Systems
- White Paper: GHS Implementation Planning Issues