Labeling Systems STEM Enthusiasts Should Be Familiar With

There is much to learn and discover about chemistry and the way compounds interact for better or worse. Doing so with safety knowledge first, however, is essential. If you or your child is planning on handling any kind of dangerous materials, it’s best to be familiar with these common labeling systems used in the UK.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste, for starters, is labeled in a specific way in the UK, so it’s important to be familiar with it in order to dispose of anything you end up creating after a chemistry experiment. Hazardous waste labels are required to include the type of material, its HP code (hazardous properties), EWC code (what type of waste), the quantity of the waste, the date, and the producer’s contact information before the hazardous waste disposal can happen. Make sure you have all these items labelled correctly to ensure the safety of everyone around!


The United Nations agreed upon a system of chemical safety signs to better help people navigate different types safely, and thus the GHS was born. The acronym GHS stands for Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, and categorizes them into different types of harm: explosive, flammable, oxidizer, gases under pressure, corrosive, harmful or irritant, toxic, human health hazard, or dangerous to the environment. Based on these labels, you can then navigate safely how to handle the chemicals and what to keep away from them.



The Great Britain MCL list refers to the mandatory classification and labelling list, which gives information regarding how a substance should be labelled and is legally binding in Great Britain specifically. If a substance you’ve created or dealing with is on the GB MCL list you are legally obligated to use the classification and labelling it specifies. This labelling system is important to be aware of if you are dealing with and classifying substances within Great Britain, but more often it is useful in using these chemicals to better understand how the label works and therefore how to be safe.

The wonders of nature and its many components can facilitate learning and, even more importantly, a love for learning. Encouraging this in a child is important, so be informed on how to read and use labels for chemicals so safety is less of a worry in such situations. The next time you open up a chemistry set or use even rarer compounds it can be a teaching experience, instead of one that puts someone in the hospital!

Read this next: How to Promote Sustainability in Your Backyard

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