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Compiled By

Mr. Dudley Freeman

Director of Staff Development

October 1998






Introduction to Glossary

Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Acronyms


Introduction to Glossary


The terms and definitions are located in the front portion of the document. The acronyms comprise the second half of the document.

The purpose of this glossary is to provide information whenever there is a need for a definition of a safety and health term and/or acronym. These terms, acronyms, and definitions have been collected from a variety of sources and put together in a single document for the expressed purpose of providing assistance to College and University employees as they read MSD Sheets, labels, training materials, etc.

Whenever users encounter a term or acronym that is not included in this document (there are probably many), forward them to Mr. Larry Warner at the State Regents Training Center. The new information will be included in any future revisions or publications.



Glossary of Terms and Acronyms


Abatement: Reducing the degree or intensity of, or eliminating a hazard.

Absolute: Free from imperfection; free or relatively free from mixture.

Absorb: To take in, suck up, especially a solid taking in a liquid, as a sponge takes in water.

Absorption: The process by which a substance can be readily taken into the body. For example, some chemicals can be absorbed through unbroken skin.

Acclimatization: The physiological and behavioral adjustments of an organism to changes in its environment.

Acetylcholine: A substance in the human body having important neurotransmitter effects on internal systems; often used as a broncho-constricter.

Acid: A compound consisting of hydrogen plus one or more other elements and which, in the presence of some solvents or water, reacts to release hydrogen. Acids have the ability to turn litmus paper red, neutralize bases, and have a pH range of 0 to 7.

Acidosis: An abnormal condition characterized by reduced alkalinity of the blood and of the body tissues.

Action Levels: Levels of exposure at which OSHA regulations for protective programs must be put into effect.

Acute: Severe, usually critical, often dangerous conditions in which relatively rapid changes occur as a result of exposure to high concentrations of material over a short period of time. Acute effects are easier to reverse than are the effect of chronic exposure (see chronic).

Air Monitoring: Sampling for and measuring pollutants in the atmosphere.

Alkali: A compound, which has the ability to neutralize acid and form a salt. Alkalis turn litmus paper blue and have a pH range of 7 to 13.

Aliphatic: Refers to an open chain carbon compound, usually, petroleum products derived from a paraffin base, can be straight chained or branched chain, and saturated or unsaturated molecular structure. Examples are hexane, naphtha, and mineral spirits.

Alopecia: Loss of hair.

Analgesia: Loss of sensitivity to pain.

Anaphylaxis: Hypersensitivity resulting from sensitization following prior contact with a chemical or protein.

Anesthesia: Loss of sensation or feeling.

Anhydride: An oxide or compound which when combined with water produces an acid or base.

Anosmia: Loss of the sense of smell.

Anoxia: A lack of oxygen from inhaled air - literally "without oxygen". Also see Hypoxia.

Anorexia: Loss of appetite.

Aqueous: A water based solution.

Argyrosis: Local or generalized impregnation (blue-gray color) of the of the body tissues with silver.

Aromatic: Fragrant or distinguished odor. Applied to a group of hydrocarbons and their derivatives characterized by the presence of one or more six-carbon rings. Examples are benzene. toluene, and xylene.

Article: An item which when manufactured:

1. Is formed to a specific design or shape during manufacturing, and

2.  Has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use, and

3.  Does not release, or otherwise result in exposure to, a hazardous chemical, under normal conditions of use. Examples are construction lumber and steel.

Asphyxia: unconsciousness due to suffocation from a lack of oxygen or interference with the oxygen of the blood.

Asphyxian: A vapor or gas that can cause unconsciousness or death by suffocation.

Asphyxiation: A condition that causes asphyxia, suffocation.

Asthma: A disease characterized by reoccurring attacks of dyspnea., wheezing, and cough due to spasmodic contraction of the bronchioles.

Ataxia: A loss of power of muscle coordination.

Atrophy: A wasting or withering in the size of a part of the body.

Auto-Ignition Temperature: The lowest temperature at which a flammable gas or vapor in air mixture will ignite from its own heat source or a contacted heat surface without the presence of a spark or flame.


Barrier Coating: A layer of substance that acts to obstruct or prevent passage of something through a surface that is to be protected, e.g., grout, caulk, or various sealing compounds.

Barrier Cream: A cream for use on human skin to protect against injury from contact with specific types of harmful agents.

Base: A compound, which reacts with an acid to form a salt. A base will turn litmus paper blue and has a pH of 7 to 13. Base is another term for "alkali".

Beryllium: An airborne metal that can be hazardous to human health when inhaled. Discharged by machine shops, ceramic and propellant plants, and foundries.

Beta Particle: An elementary particle emitted by radioactive decay, that may cause skin burns.  It is halted by a thin piece of paper.

Biologic Half-Life: the time required for a given species, organ, or tissue to eliminate half of a substance which it takes in.

Biohazard: A biological hazard; organisms or products of organisms that present a risk to humans.

Black Lung: A disease of the lungs caused by habitual inhalation of coal dust.

Blasting Agent: (OSHA) any material or mixture consisting of a fuel and an oxidizer, intended for blasting, not otherwise classified as an explosive and in which none of the ingredients are classified as an explosive, provided that the finished product, as mixed and packaged for use or shipment, cannot be detonated by means of a # 8 test blasting cap when unconfined.

Bloods Agents: Chemicals such as carbon monoxide and the cyanides that act upon the blood and the hematopoletic system and ultimately result in depriving body tissues of adequate oxygen.

Bloodborne: Carried by or found in the blood.

Boiling Point: The temperature at which a substance will change from a liquid to a gas. This is the point at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the atmospheric pressure.

Bonding: The electrical connection of two objects to equalize electrical potential and therefore prevent sparks.

Brachycardia: A slow heartbeat in which the pulse rate falls below 60. Also see "tachycardia".

Breathing Zone: The area of the ambient environment in which a person breaths; an imaginary globe with a 2-foot radius surrounding the head.

Bronchitis: Inflammation of the bronchial tubes of the lungs.

Buffer: Substance that reduces or controls the change in hydrogen ion concentration, which otherwise would result from adding acids or bases.

By-Product: material, other than the principal product, that is generated as a consequence of an industrial process.


Carbon Dioxide: A colorless, odorless, toxic gas produced by incomplete combustion of carbon containing substances.

Carboxyhemoglobin: Hemoglobin in which the iron is associated with carbon monoxide (CO). The affinity of hemoglobin for CO is about 300 times greater than for oxygen.

Carcinogen: Any substance, which, under certain quantified exposures, produces cancer in animals or humans. A chemical is considered to be a carcinogen if:

1.  It has been evaluated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and found to be a carcinogen or a potential carcinogen.

2.  It is listed as a carcinogen or potential carcinogen in the annual report on carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

3.  It is regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen.

Carcinogenic: Cancer-producing.

Carcinoma: A malignant tumor or cancer; a new growth made up of new growth of epithelial cells, tending to infiltrate and give rise to metastasis.

CAS Number: An identification number assigned by the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) of the American Chemical Society. The CAS Number is used in various databases, including Chemical Abstracts for identification and information retrieval.

Catalyst: A substance which, without changing itself, causes or controls a chemical reaction.

Cataract: A loss of the transparency of the crystalline lens of the eye of its capsule.

Cathodic Protection: A technique to prevent corrosion of a metal surface by making that surface the cathode of an electrochemical cell.

Caustic: Something that strongly irritates, chemically burns, or destroys living tissue.

Caustic Soda: Sodium hydroxide, a strong alkaline substance used as the cleaning agent in some detergents. Common name is lye.

Ceiling Limit: A concentration that is not to be exceeded.

Ceiling Value: A maximum established level, which no human exposure should ever exceed.

Chemical Inventory: A list of the hazardous chemicals known to be presenting an identity that is referenced on the appropriate material safety data sheet (the list may be compiled for the workplace as a whole or for individual work areas).

Chemical Name: The scientific designation of a chemical, in accordance with the nomenclature system developed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) or the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) rules of nomenclature, or a name which will clearly identify the chemical for the purpose of conducting a hazard evaluation.

Chemical Protective Clothing (CPC): Special clothing that may be resistant to permeation, penetration, or degradation by a chemical., Rubber boots, gloves, aprons, and suits are commonly used to protect workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Centigrade (Celsius): Related to, or having a thermometric scale on which the interval between the freezing point of water and the boiling point of water is divided into 100 degrees with 0 degrees representing freezing and 100 degrees representing the boiling point.

Centimeter: A unit of metrical measure. 100 centimeters equal 1 meter.

Centipoise: A unit of viscosity or fluidity.

Cesium: A silver-white, soft, ductile element of the alkali group that is the most electropositive element known. Used in photoelectric cells.

Chelating Agent: A substance added to a system to preclude the normal ionic effects of the metals present.

Chemical: Any element, chemical compound, or mixture of elements and/or compounds.

Chemical Change: A change of composition in properties of a substance due to rearrangement of elements, atoms or molecules.

Chemical Name: The scientific designation of a chemical in accordance with the nomenclature system developed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) of the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) rules of nomenclature, or name which will clearly identify the chemical for the purposes of conducting a hazard evaluation.

Chemical Family: A group of individual elements or compounds with a common general name. Examples are the ketone; acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, etc.

Chilling Effect: The lowering of the earths temperature because of increased particles in the air blocking the suns rays.

Chloracne: An acne-like eruption from contact with chlorinated naphthalenes and polyphenyls acting on sweat glands.

Chlorinated Hydrocarbons: Includes a class or persistent broad-spectrum insecticides that linger in the environment and accumulate in the food chain. Examples are: DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, lindane, endrin, mirex, hexachloride, and toxaphene.

Chlorinated Solvent: An organic solvent containing chlorine atoms, e.g. methylene chloride and 1,1,1, trichloromethane, which are used in aerosol spray containers and in traffic paint.

Chlorination: The application of chlorine to drinking water, sewage, or industrial waste to disinfect or to oxidize undesirable compounds.

Chloroflurocarbons: A family of inert, nontoxic, and easily liquefied used in refrigeration, packaging, insulation, or as solvents and aerosol propellants. The CFCs drift upward into the atmosphere where the chlorine components destroy ozone.

Chronic: Persistent, prolonged, and/or repeated effects which are the results of repeated exposure to low concentrations of a chemical substance(s) over a long period of time. See "acute".

Chronic Effect: An adverse effect on a human or animals with symptoms that develop slowly over an extended period of time or that recur frequently.

Chronic Toxicity: An adverse effect resulting from repeated doses of exposure to a substance over a relatively prolonged extended period of time. The term is usually used to denote effects in experimental animals.

Closed Cup: A method used in flash point testing.

Code of Federal Regulations: Collection of rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by various agencies.

Combustible Liquid: A liquid having a flashpoint at or above 100 F but below 220 F except mixtures having components with flashpoints greater that 220 F (99%+ of all mixtures).

Combustion: Burning, or rapid oxidation, accompanied by release of energy in the form of heat and light.

Common Name: Any chemical identification such as a code name, brand name, trade name, code number, or generic name.

Compliance: The state of meeting all the requirements of the law.

Compressed Gas: Any of the following:

1.  A gas or mixture of gases, in a container, having an absolute pressure exceeding 40 psi at 70 F.

2.  A gas or a mixture of gases, in a container, having an absolute pressure exceeding 104 psi at 130 F regardless of the pressure at 70 F.

3.   A liquid having a vapor pressure exceeding 40 psi at 100 F as determined by American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Method of Testing (ASTM).

Conc.: Concentration.

Concentration: The amount of substance in a given amount of another substance.

Confined Space: refers to a space which by design has: 1) limited openings for entry and exit, 2) unfavorable natural ventilation which could contain or produce dangerous air pollutants, and 3) which is not intended for continuous employee occupancy.

Conjunctivitis: Inflammation of the conjunctiva, the delicate membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the eyeball.

Contact Dermatitis: Caused by contact with a primary irritant, a skin irritation at the area of skin contact.

Container: Any bag, barrel, bottle, box, can, cylinder, drum, reaction vessel, storage tank inflatable, or the like that contains a hazardous chemical.

Contingency Plan: A document specifying an organized, planned, and coordinated course of action to be followed in case of fire, explosion, or other accident that releases toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, or radioactive materials which threaten human health or the environment.

Coolant: A liquid or gas used to reduce the heat generated by power production in nuclear reactors, electric generators, various industrial and mechanical processes, and internal combustion engines.

Core: The uranium-containing heart of a nuclear reactor, where energy is released.

Cornea: Transparent structure of the external layer of the eyeball.

Corrosion: The dissolving and wearing away of metal caused by chemical reaction such as between water and the pipes that the water contacts, chemicals touching a metal surface, or contact between two or more metals.

Corrosive: Any material, liquid or solid, that causes visible destruction of, or reversible alterations in, human skin tissues at the site of contact (burns). Examples of corrosives are sodium hydroxide (lye) or ammonium solutions.

Cubic Feet Per Minute: A measure of the volume of a substance flowing through air within a fixed period of time. Also refers to the amount of air in cubic feet that is exchanged with indoor in a minutes time, or an air exchange rate.

Curie: A quantitative measure of radioactivity equal to 3.7 x 10 to the tenth disintegrations per second.

Cutaneous Hazards: Chemicals which irritates the skin.

Cyanosis: Blueness of the skin, generally caused by the lack of oxygen.
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