The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is warning local emergency responders to rely on more than material safety data sheets (MSDSs), provided or maintained by facilities, during a chemical accident.
Responders generally rely on MSDSs to provide information about chemicals involved in an accident. EPA contends more information may be needed in some cases.
An alert issued by EPA lists additional sources of chemical information. Many fire department hazardous materials teams follow the "Rule of Three," which requires that three sources of information should be consulted before a response decision is made. Other information sources:
- Chemical inventory records filed by facilities in fire departments' jurisdictions under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act for basic hazard and storage information.
- Assistance from others who have information about chemical hazards and proper response options in an emergency. These responders should be able to correctly interpret data. Sufficient training in hazardous materials response for all responders.
- Pre-planning with facilities that store or use hazardous materials to identify specific concerns and opportunities to prepare effectively for those concerns, or to reduce existing risks.