Understand the labels - Chemicals In Our Life

Understand the labels

Warning symbols and specific colours on the labels of products provide information about the damage a particular substance or mixture can cause to your health or to the environment.

A hazard pictogram is an image on a label that includes a warning symbol and specific colours intended to provide information about the damage a particular substance or mixture can cause to our health or to the environment. The CLP Regulation has introduced a new classification and labelling system for hazardous chemicals in the European Union. The pictograms have also been changed and are in line with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System.

Click here to see an infographic explaining the labels

The new pictograms are in the shape of a red diamond with a white background, and have replaced the old orange square symbols which applied under the previous legislation. Since 1 December 2010, some substances and mixtures have already been labelled according to the new legislation. The old pictograms have not been allowed on the market since 1 June 2017.

Stay safe and browse the infographic below to get familiar with the new pictograms.

What does the label contain

In addition to the pictograms, the label contains an explanation of what it means (hazard statement). The same pictogram might have multiple hazard statements associated with the effects that the substance or mixture might cause. For example, the exclamation mark symbol might mean that the substance or mixture may cause respiratory irritation or that it may cause serious eye irritation or skin irritation. You will also find precautionary statements on the label, which indicate how to handle the product safely and what measures you should take if you are exposed to the product by accident. The label also contains a "signal word" that indicates the severity of the damage a product may cause: ‘Danger' for more severe damage and ‘Warning' for less severe.

Products containing these labels may cause harm if not handled correctly. Make sure you learn what the labels mean and read the instructions to ensure safe use.

Example of a label