Hazardous Chemical Definition
A hazardous chemical is defined by OSHA as any chemical
that is a health hazard or a physical hazard.
OSHA defines a health hazard as a chemical for which there
is statistically significant evidence based on at least one study conducted
in accordance with established scientific principles that acute or chronic
health effects may occur in exposed employees. Chemicals covered by this
definition include carcinogens, toxic or highly toxic agents, reproductive
toxins, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers, hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins,
neurotoxins, agents that act on the hematopoietic system, and agents that
damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.
OSHA defines a physical hazard as a chemical for which there is scientifically
valid evidence that it is a combustible liquid, a compressed gas, explosive, flammable,
an organic peroxide, an oxidizer, pyrophoric, unstable (reactive), or water-reactive.
Additional Hazardous Chemicals
The broad definition OSHA uses to define hazardous chemicals includes not only generic
chemicals but also paints, cleaning compounds, inks, dyes, and many other common substances.
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine if the chemicals they produce
or repackage meet the definition of a hazardous chemical. A chemical mixture may be considered
as a whole or by its ingredients to determine its hazards. It may be considered as a whole
if it has been tested as a whole and a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) has been issued accordingly. Otherwise the mixture
must be evaluated by its components. If the mixture contains 1.0 percent or more of a hazardous
chemical or 0.1 percent of an ingredient listed as a carcinogen or suspected carcinogen, the
whole mixture is assumed to have the same health and/or carcinogenic hazards as its components.