The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)


With the rollout of the new The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) comes the rollout of new hazard classifications, pictograms, and explanations. As the system is introduced worldwide, new pictograms will be appearing across various manufacturers' products.  Below is a basic explanation of the pictograms and their hazards.  For more information, please visit one of the GHS resource links. 

Hazard Pictogram Description
Explosives explosives_etc

Explosives are labeled with one of six categories depending on the hazard.  Categories are as follows:

  • 1.1 Mass explosion hazards
  • 1.2 Projection hazard
  • 1.3 Fire hazard or minor projection hazard
  • 1.4 No significant hazard
  • 1.5 Very insensitive substances with mass explosion hazard
  • 1.6 Extremely insensitive articles with no mass explosion hazard
Flammable Gases Flammables_etc A flammable gas is any gas that has a flammable range in air at 20°C and a standard pressure of 101.3 kPa.  
Flammable Aerosols Flammables_etc Aerosols are considered flammable if any component in them is classified as flammable according to GHS.  This can include flammable liquids, gases, or solids.
Oxidizing Gases oxidizers Oxidizing gases are gases that when mixed with oxygen, can cause the combustion of surrounding materials.  Under normal circumstances these materials would be at the same risk when exposed to air.
Gases Under Pressure gases_under_pressure Gases contained in a container with a pressure of more than 280 Pa at 20°C or as a refrigerated liquid are considered gases under pressure.  This classification covers what can happen if the pressure is suddenly released or the container is frozen  not the effects of the gas itself.
Flammable Liquids Flammables_etc A flammable liquid is any liquid with a flash point of not more than 93°C.  
Flammable Solids Flammables_etc A flammable solid is a solid that is readily combustible or can cause or contribute to a fire because of friction.  Solids can include powered, granular, or pasty substances which can ignite with even brief contact.
Self-Reactive Substances Flammables_etcexplosives_etc A self-reactive substances are any thermally unstable liquids or solids that are liable to undergo a strongly exothermic thermal decomposition with or without oxygen.
Pyrophotic Liquids Flammables_etc A pyrophoric liquid is a liquid that can ignite within five minutes of coming in contact with air.  This can happen with any amount of the liquid.
Pyrophotic Solids Flammables_etc A pyrophoric solid is a solid that can ignite within five minutes of coming in contact with air.  This can happen with any amount of the solid.
Self-Heating Substances Flammables_etc A self-heating substance is a solid or liquid that is not pyrophoric, that can self-heat when brought into contact air.  It does not need an energy supply to heat.
Substances which, in contact with water emit flammable gases Flammables_etc Substances for this category either emit flammable gases when in contact with water or are solid or liquids that are likely to spontaneously flammable or give off dangerous quantities of flammable gases when in contact with water.
Oxidizing Liquids oxidizers Oxidizing liquids themselves are not typically combustible but when producing oxygen, they can cause or contribute to the combustion of surrounding materials.
Oxidizing Solids oxidizers Oxidizing solids themselves are not typically combustible but when producing oxygen, they can cause or contribute to the combustion of surrounding materials.
Organic Peroxides explosives_etcFlammables_etc Organic Peroxides are organic liquids or solids that have the bivalent -0-0- structure.  They may be considered derivative of hydrogen peroxide where one or more atoms have been replaced by organic radicals.
Corrosive to Metals corrosives Any substance or mixture that by chemical action can damage or destroy metals are considered corrosive to metals.
Acute Toxicity acute_toxicity_severeirritant_etc Acute toxicity is the adverse effects that occur after oral or dermal administration of a single dose of a of a substance.  It also includes multiple doses with in 24 hours and inhalation exposure for 4 hours.
Skin Corrosion corrosives Skin corrosion means irreversibly damage to the skin after application for up to four hours.  
Skin Irritation irritant_etc Skin irritation means that after application for up to four hours, any damage to the skin is reversible and not permanent.
Serious Eye Damage irritant_etc Serious eye damage means that the production of tissue in the eye was damaged or a serious decrease in vision occurs after application of a substance to the front of the eye.  This damage is not fully reversible within 21 days of application.  These changes can be permanent.
Eye Irritation irritant_etc Eye irritation are any changes in the eye that occur after a substance was applied to the front surface of the eye that are full reversible within 21 days.  These changes are not permanent.
Respiratory Sensitization irritant_etccarcinogen_etx Respiratory sensitization happens when a substance induces hypersensitivity of the airways after inhalation.  Typically this makes breathing difficult.
Skin Sensitization irritant_etc Skin sensitization means an allergic reaction like response occurs when a substance comes into contact with skin.  This is also known as contact sensitization.
Germ Cell Mutagenicity carcinogen_etx Germ cell mutagenicity means that a substance is causing an increased occurrence of mutations in populations of cells and organisms through exposure.
Carcinogenicity carcinogen_etx Carcinogenicity means that a chemical or mixture is likely to cause cancer or increase the likelihood of getting cancer.
Reproductive Toxicology carcinogen_etx Reproductive toxicology means that exposure to substances with this label can cause adverse effects on sexual function and fertility in both males and females.  They can also cause developmental toxicity in offspring.
Target Organ Systemic Toxicity - Single & Repeated Exposure carcinogen_etx All significant health effects that are not otherwise listed in the GHS classifications are considered Target Organ Systemic Toxicity.  This includes anything that impairs function, is reversible or irreversibly, immediate or delayed, narcotic effects and respiratory tract irritation.  This is also known as Specific Target Organ Toxicity.
Aspiration Toxicity carcinogen_etx Aspiration hazard includes severe acute effects including chemical pneumonia, varying degrees of pulmonary injury, and death following aspiration.  Aspiration is defined as the entry of a liquid or solid substance through oral or nasal cavities or indirectly through vomiting.  
Hazardous to the Aquatic Environment environmental_toxicity
  • Acute - The substance caused injury to an aquatic organism during short-term exposure
  • Chronic - potential or actual properties of the substance will effects to aquatic organisms during exposure that are determined by the lifecycle of the organism.