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  • Writer's pictureTom Petersen

Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

By Bernard D. Silverstein, CIH – an EES Associate (for Bernard’s bio click here)

Chemicals, through the different steps from their production to their handling, transport and use, are a potential danger for human health and the environment. People of any ages, from children to elderly, using many different languages and alphabets, belonging to various social conditions, are daily confronted with dangerous products (chemicals, pesticides, etc.).


Given the reality of the extensive global trade in chemicals and the need to develop national programs to ensure their safe use, transport and disposal, an internationally harmonized approach to classification and labeling was developed by the United Nations Economic Committee. Once countries have consistent and appropriate information for the chemicals they import or produce in their own countries, the infrastructure to control chemical exposures and protect people and the environment can be established in a comprehensive manner.


The new system, called “Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)”, addresses classification of chemicals by types of hazard and proposes harmonized hazard communication elements, including labels and safety data sheets. The GHS aims to ensure that information on physical hazards and toxicity from chemicals is available to enhance the protection of human health and the environment during the handling, transport and use of these chemicals. The GHS also provides a basis for harmonization of rules and regulations for chemicals at national, regional and worldwide levels, an important factor also for trade facilitation.


(Copyright 2005 by Environmental and Engineering Solutions, Inc.)

Number 34


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