We all use chemicals to help us in our daily lives. There are strict regulations to make sure that the chemicals we use are safely packaged and labelled, and contain advice on how to use the product safely. You can see these labels on a wide range of products, from dishwasher tablets, bleach and lime-scale removers in your kitchen, to DIY products such as paints, varnishes and adhesives, and garden chemicals.
These labels will be changing over the coming years as part of a United Nations sponsored programme to harmonise the symbols, information and advice used on the labels on a global basis. This will eventually mean that people travelling to other countries will be able to recognise the same information and take appropriate care with chemicals.
Tips for using chemicals safely
- Always read the label before choosing and using a chemical product, and follow any safety advice given by the supplier.
- Store chemicals safely in their original containers out of reach of children and pets, preferably in a locked cupboard.
- If you need more advice about using the chemical safely, call the supplier using the telephone number printed on the label.
- If you or your family accidentally swallow or come into contact with a chemical in a way that harms you, you must seek medical attention. You can call NHS Direct or go to your nearest A&E department. Make sure you take information about the chemicals with you (name of the product, supplier’s name, and any hazard symbols and safety information on the label).
- Advice on disposing of old and unwanted chemicals can be obtained from your local waste authority (council). Never dispose of chemicals down the sink, drain, or toilet.