Numerous entities regulate the safety of all the cleaning chemicals manufactured in Canada. As a result, almost every product we utilize in our residential, commercial, or industrial settings features safety precautions and various warning signs depending on the chemical complexity of the raw materials used in their production. While most instructions are pretty effortless to understand, some warning signs are difficult to comprehend due to their rarity.
Honestly speaking, you can easily recognize a sign you have seen on every cleaning product since childhood within a blink of an eye. However, when you look at the container of an industrial cleaner such as a degreaser, the warning signs on it may leave you perplexed. We can’t blame you for this. After all, you don’t often see an industrial cleaner lying around your kitchen cabinet every day, now do you?
However, the discussion above does not mean you have to turn a blind eye to these symbols. They have been placed there for a reason, and recklessness, especially in the case of industrial cleaners, may prove to be quite costly. Yes, we are all guilty of not abiding by the warning signs on our residential cleaning products. For example, none of us bother to store them in a separate, cool, and dry place. We often shove them in any empty corner we find in our house.
In fact, how many of us even bother reading the safety precautions or trying to understand the labels? Not many, for sure. However, industrial cleaning chemicals will not excuse you for being lazy. One slight misstep and you are in for a high jump.
In light of the situation’s sensitivity, today’s blog will help you decode and understand some of the most common ‘hazardous material’ symbols found on your industrial cleaners.
What Do The Symbols On Your Cleaner’s Container Mean?
From the discussion thus far, you surely acknowledge how imperative it is for you to adequately understand the warning symbols on your industrial cleaner containers. These chemicals often contain chemically reactive elements such as potent acids and alkalis. Their extremely high or low pH renders them overly hazardous to the health of any individual who comes in unsafe physical contact with these products. Some of them are so reactive that the fumes they emit are enough to choke a person standing meters away.p In Canada, the bodies that regulate the safety of cleaning products include:
- Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Health Canada
Although we can not provide a comprehensive list of these signs through a blog post, we have, nevertheless, curated a list of the most common hazard signs you might come across.
This symbol is relatively easy to comprehend. If a container has this sign, it means the product within it is flammable and will easily burst into flames in case of negligence. From your chemistry class, you must have learned that three components are necessary to start a fire: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Since these chemicals are self-reactive and sometimes self-healing, you have to ensure that other missing elements such as oxygen are not present.
This symbol is often present on the containers of industrial cleaners which possess a high acid or alkali concentration. Usually, these chemicals have the potential to chemically destroy elements like metals, so imagine their effect on your skin. Thus, you must never come in contact with these chemicals without the necessary protective gear.
This symbol depicts a fatal health hazard. It means that inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion of products with this sign may be toxic to an individual and even cause death. The effects of these chemicals become apparent within 24 hours of misuse. Therefore, never mishandle a cleaner with this sign.
Lastly, this symbol means that long-term exposure to the chemical in question may result in severe health effects. From serious respiratory issues to cancer, and targeted impact on specific organs such as your kidneys, liver, and even the nervous system, a lot can happen. However, it may take weeks, months, or even years for the effect of these chemicals to materialize. The latter is what makes this chronic toxicity different from the above-mentioned acute toxicity.
While chronic toxicity’s effects gradually appear, acute toxicity has immediate impacts.