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Globally Harmonised System (GHS) for Hazard Classification and Labelling – Potential Misconceptions and Challenges Ahead

Chemicals can pose a risk to human health and the environment during the various steps from their production to their handling, transport and use. Due to the extensive global trade in chemicals and the need to develop national programmes to ensure their safe use, transport and disposal, it was recognized that an internationally-harmonised approach to classification and labeling would be needed. Once countries have consistent and appropriate information on the chemicals they import or manufacture in their own countries, the infrastructure to manage chemical exposures and protect human health and the environment can be established in a comprehensive manner. The new system, which is called "Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)", addresses classification of chemicals by types of hazard and proposes harmonised hazard communication elements, including labels and safety data sheets (SDS). This paper provides a brief overview of the GHS system and the potential misconceptions as well as the challenges ahead. 

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