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Cleaning products and the corrosive pictogram

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Exceptionally the CLP classification and labelling criteria can lead to unfamiliar or unexpected hazard pictograms on the labels of certain chemical products compared to those required under CHIP.

This results from differences in the detailed criteria for classification and labelling in certain hazard classes between CHIP and CLP.  It does not mean that the chemical product is any more – or less – hazardous than it was before.

An example of where this may arise is the labelling of particular cleaning products that are hazardous in contact with eyes.

Old CHIP 'Irritant hazard symbol

Orange square containing black X

Old irritant symbol

Under CHIP, cleaning products such as kitchen cleaner, carpet cleaner, rinse aid or washing up liquid classified as Irritant, with risk phrase R41: Risk of serious damage to eyes, were labelled with the irritant symbol.  The same pictogram was used for products classified with the risk phrase R36: Irritating to eyes.

New CLP 'Corrosive' pictogram and Exclamation mark

Red diamond containing hand and object being corroded by liquid poured from test tubes

Corrosive pictogram

Under CLP there is a clearer distinction between the hazard labelling for products classified as serious eye damage (category 1, irreversible effects on the eye), and eye irritation (category 2, reversible effects on the eye).  Products classified as category 1 are labelled with the hazard statement H318: Causes serious eye damage (equivalent to R41 under CHIP) and the corrosive pictogram.  Products classified as category 2 are labelled with H319: Causes serious eye irritation (equivalent to R36 under CHIP), and the exclamation mark pictogram.

Red diamond containing exclamation mark

Exclamation mark pictogram

While this may be a little confusing to begin with, it is important to remember that pictograms are only one aspect of a CLP hazard label.  Information about the hazards present is also given in the hazard statements on the label, and the precautionary statements will indicate how to use the product safely and what, if any, protective equipment is needed.  For hazardous cleaning products used in the workplace more detailed information is also available in the safety data sheets.

Reading the label in full will help users understand the hazards that are present and take appropriate action to protect themselves and others.

Where to go for advice

If you are in any doubt about the hazards in any of the products that you use, contact the supplier (the contact details will also appear on the label) and clarify that the precautions you were taking before are still the right ones.  In most cases they will be and you can continue to use the product as before.

For more information, please see:

Updated: 2020-10-01