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Should I read the label? PDF Print E-mail

Yes! Always read the label thoroughly before you purchase a product and before you use it as the label contains important health and safety information and tells you what’s in the product, how to use it safely and effectively and how to dispose of any leftovers and packaging.

While the label does have lots of information it won’t necessarily tell you all of the ingredients in a product. For instance, a pesticide product may only list the ‘active ingredient’ without stating the other ingredients. Other household products may only list general categories of ingredients such as ‘hydrocarbon solvent’ or ‘fragrance’ without telling you the specific chemicals.

If you want to know more details about what’s in a product a good place to start is to contact the manufacturer or importer and request a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), sometimes referred to as a technical information sheet. Often there is a toll-free customer number listed on the label which you can call to request this information.

Product signal statements

Signal words and statements may be added to labels to warn consumers of the potential hazard of a product. Australia has a Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons or SUSDP. The SUSDP is produced by the National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and its implementation is the responsibility of States and Territories.  For products likely to be used around the home and during renovations you may come across the following schedules and signal statements on product labels:

Schedule 5 ‘Caution’

Schedule 5 (S5) poisons are substances and preparations which -

  • ·    have low toxicity or a low concentration
  • ·    have a low to moderate hazard
  • ·    are capable of causing only minor adverse effects to human beings in normal use
  • ·    require caution in handling, storage or use

Schedule 6 ‘Poison’

Schedule 6 (S6) poisons are substances and preparations -

  • ·    with moderate to high toxicity
  • ·    which may cause death or severe injury if ingested, inhaled or in contact with the skin or eyes

 For more information see

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