Has anyone noticed those tiny labels on their products around the home? Check your Mortein cans, Draino and WD40 containers and you will notice pictograms (diamond shapes containing different pictures) that clearly deliver warning messages to us indicating that this seemingly harmless supermarket product has the potential to harm you and your family’s health, or the health of our environment.
As of 1 January this year, these pictograms (which previously came in a confusing variety of colours and pictures) have been officially harmonised globally; this means that they will all look the same wherever you are in the world. The old labels will soon be phased out!
So what do they mean? Here’s an easy guide for the main pictograms you’ll find around your home:
Corrosive: This product may cause chemical burns on contact, which can range from mildly irritating to permanently damaging! Contact with this substance can cause serious damage to your skin and eyes.
Warning: This includes the potential to cause acute toxicity (particularly harmful if swallowed), an allergic reaction, and eye, skin and respiratory irritations.
Health Hazard: Repeated or prolonged exposure to this product may result in long term health effects, including cancer, birth defects and organ dysfunction
Acute Toxicity: Ingestion, inhalation or contact with skin by this product may cause immediate health problems. Symptoms can range from mild to fatal.
Environmental Hazard: This product will damage or kill fish and other aquatic organisms in our waterways if disposed of incorrectly.
Flammable: Whether this is a liquid, solid or gas, it is a substance which will easily catch fire and burn
In the Science laboratories here at Somerset College, the students use a wide variety of chemicals. All of the bottles containing chemicals whether a stock concentration or the diluted solutions made up by the laboratory staff are all labelled with the appropriate pictogram(s).
Starting in Year 6, students are educated by our amazing science teachers on the potential dangers of each of these products. They are advised about the correct personal protective equipment to use while handling them, and are given thorough instructions to ensure they follow a safe protocol.
At the beginning of each year students are reminded of safety rules within the laboratory, and are tested on them to ensure they fully understand the importance of these rules. Don’t be surprised if your children start reading your containers at home, and advising you on what protective gear you need to wear and how to handle the product more safely!
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