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Archive-name: sci/chem-faq/part2
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2 October 1997
Version: 1.16

Subject: 7. General Chemistry-related Information on the Internet 
Compiled by:    Neil Flatter  
                Lev A. Gorenstein  <[email protected]>
                Theodore Heise  <[email protected]>
                Mark Perks  <[email protected]>
Mutilated by:   Bruce Hamilton 

There are so many references that relate to chemistry on the Internet
that this section could become overwhelming in size.  Instead of trying to 
provide a comprehensive listing of all such sites, what follows is more a 
collection of pointers to other sources that carry a diverse range of
material related to chemistry.  By knowing where to look for an answer, 
these references should provide a springboard for an information search 
on the Internet. Specialist software and search engines are available to 
search for keywords using Gopher and the WWW, and they will also point to 
additional sources not accessed by the sites below. 

7.1  How can I access databases such as Chemical Abstracts?

These databases are almost all inevitably commercial, it costs serious
money to build and update them, thus it will cost money to access them. 
Either you or your institution will be paying the supplier. Do not 
expect to find copyrighted databases ( such as the Merck Index, Chemical
Abstracts, Kirk Othmer, or Sax ) freely available on the Internet.

There are several commercial suppliers of databases that contain chemical 
information. These can usually be accessed either via the Internet or 
telephone Packet Switching Networks. The most well known specialist database 
is the American Chemical Society's Chemical Abstracts [1], which is provided
by the Chemical Abstracts Service. CAS offers a commercial database service 
called STN International, which contains over 190 scientific and technical 

These databases cover all aspects of Chemistry, including CAS
Registry Numbers, and are accessible via the WWW.                   Chemical Abstracts Service.          STN Introduction                Dialog

The most universal and comprehensive database supplier is Knight Ridder, 
whose Dialog service offers over 40 databases that solely concentrate
on aspects of chemistry, including Chemical Abstracts since 1967 ( but it 
does not offer the actual abstract, just the bibliographic information ) 
and the CAS RN database [2]. Dialog also offers several hundred other
commercial and technical databases, and Knight Ridder also offers selected 
general and technical databases on a low-cost, home user ( off-peak :-) ) 
system known as " Knowledge Index "  at approx 25% of the normal Dialog cost.
Knowledge Index is also available from some on-line suppliers such as 
Compuserve - but remember that KI does not include CA. 

The ability to perform on-line searches is becoming an essential attribute 
for modern chemists. Major database suppliers offer a wide range of training 
courses and there are several excellent articles on searching the chemical 
literature ( database and/or journals) in journals such as J.Chem.Ed.[3-5]. 
If you have access to a CD-ROM database, you should practise your search 
logic on that first, before going on-line. Because of the cost structure of 
database suppliers such as Dialog, and the inappropriate selection of 
keywords by authors :-), it is often more cost-effective to focus on grabbing
around 100-200 titles and scanning them offline ( using the 30 minutes 
"hold search" function ), and then going back online to grab the desired 
abstracts and citation information.

7.2  What chemistry-related material is on the WWW?


There are several well-known search engines available on the WWW that will
provide updated searches for keywords. Because of the huge expansion of the
WWW, I've decided to select some sites and allow users to use search 
engines and/or web crawlers to locate resources. If you find a real 
treasure house of chemical goodies, email me the address and I'll check it
out. It is important to realise that many of the WWW search engines are 
complementary, and so it is useful to utilise several when trying to locate 
information on the web - good places to start are directories of various 
WWW search engines.

Free search engines include:-                          Alta Vista                                  Lycos                                  Yahoo                             Infoseek                                 Excite                             Webcrawler

A search service of several commercial sources is:-                         IBM Infomarket

Chemistry Overview sites
    The fastest and best way to discover information about chemicals on
    the WWW is CambridgeSoft Corporation's Chemfinder free searching 
    server. This has to be one of the most convenient ways to obtain 
    chemical information on the Internet. Highly recommended.
    The Royal Society of Chemistry maintains an excellent list of sites 
    containing chemistry-related material, and is a good starting point.
    This is the new WWW site from the American Chemical Society, and
    is intended to be their prime location of chemical information.
Other very useful sites include;-
    The University of Sheffield comprehensive listing of WWW Chemical info.
    Over 2200 sites indexed as of September 1996.
    List of Chemical Services and Resources
    Chemistry Information on the Internet, includes a " Best of Web "
    selection of chemistry resources.
    Comprehensive compilation of the NIST Chemistry WebBook, which 
    includes thermochemical, IR, and mass spectral data. 
    The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Chemistry. 
    WebChemistry - a comprehensive listing of sites 
    Gary Hieftje's site, covering many aspects of spectrochemistry.
    Gary Wiggins' extensive compilation of WWW chemical sites.
    Internet Journal of Science - Biological Chemistry  
    Chemical Abstracts Service offers a diverse range of information
    with a search facility.
    CambridgeSoft site, ChemDraw, glassware, clip-art
    The Chemistry Hypermedia project, especially chemical education.
    Another listing of Chemistry Internet Resources
    The searchable Yahoo Collection of Chemistry Resources

Chemistry Education

Many of the WWW chemistry directories above also have extensive links to 
educational resources, services, and institutions:-

Additional useful sites include:- 
    Journal of Chemical Education Online.
    A comprehensive listing of education resources.
    Internet Resources for Science and Mathematics Education compiled
    by Tom O'Haver.
    UC Irvine Science Education Program, not only chemistry. 
    Typical University Organic Chemistry Laboratory information.

Other Chemistry-related Resources
    The Virtual Chemical Engineering Library
    The Electrochemical Science and Technology Information Resource.
    Indigo Instruments homepage.
    For the best science satire around, check out the Annals of Improbable 
    Research, successor to the Journal of Irreproducible Results. Whilst 
    the full version is only available via subscription services, such as
    ClariNet, smaller items are published free in the Mini AIR.
    Index of Mailing Lists discussing chemical topics

General Education Resources
Many of the Chemistry Overview sites also point to general science sites,
and use of the large search engines is recommended, but some additional 
sites include:-
    Journal of Molecular Modeling
    Internet Resources for Science and Mathematics Education compiled
    by Tom O'Haver.

Chemical Reference Spectra
    Fiveash Data Management, Inc. is a commercial supplier of chemical 
    reference spectra.
    Comprehensive compilation of the NIST Chemistry WebBook, which 
    includes thermochemical, IR, and mass spectral data. 

7.3  What information is available commercially on-line?

As well as the database suppliers such as Knight-Ridder's Dialog ( and 
low-cost home-user Knowledge Index ) and CAS's STN International, there are 
several other technical database suppliers that include chemistry-related 
material, eg Orbit. These organisations usually approach institutional 
librarians and provide comprehensive descriptions of their available 
services. The best place to start is at your local library, talking to the 
librarian in charge of on-line services to ascertain what is available, and
what levels of support are provided. 

The obvious first places to start are Dialog and STN. The range of chemistry-
related databases are extensive. There are several full-text databases of
patents, full-text newspapers and journals, and many specialised databases.
- industry-specific     Aluminium Industry Abstracts, Paperchem
- subject-specific      Fine Chemicals Database, Chemical Engineering and
                        Biotech Abstracts
- chemical properties   Beilstein, Heilbron, Merck Index, Agrochemicals
- location-specific     IMS World R&D focus.
- chemical market       Chemical Business Newsbase, Chemical Industry Notes, 
                        Freedonia Market Research.

If you plan on using Knight Ridder's lower cost Knowledge Index, ensure that
the databases you are interested in are available on KI, as not all Dialog 
databases are.

With nearly 200 databases on STN and approximately 500 on Dialog, they both 
offer access to a wide range of information. For more specialist information, 
accessing individual businesses is required, and they can provide specialist
sales, marketing and technical support for their products - many such 
businesses are now accessible via the WWW. There are also the various 
registry companies like Thomas that list chemical and equipment suppliers,
and who also offer a free evaluation period:-

7.4  What information is available free on-line?

The best technique is to use a WWW search engine to locate information
you desire, but some interesting locations are listed below.
    CambridgeSoft Corporation's Chemfinder free searching server will
    locate much of the diverse information about chemicals ( physical 
    properties, CAS RN, MSDS, etc. )  available on the Internet.
    Beilstein is offering free searching and access to the abstracts
    of articles in 140 chemistry journals until June 1997.                        
    Chemistry Today is a daily news service that can also be obtained
    by email. 

Several science journals are now making some of their commentary items and 
abstracts available on the WWW, however subscriptions are still required 
for access to the full journal. These include:-                            Nature                      New Scientist

Many of the Journals published by the American Chemical Society and Royal 
Society of Chemistry also have homepages or articles available. The ACS 
index also includes some of the UK and Japanese journals as well.

American Chemical Society         ACS Journal Index    Chemical & Engineering News    Chemical Health & Safety    Analytical Chemistry    Environmental Science
                                                   and Technology    Journal of the American
                                                   Chemical Society    Journal of Organic 

Royal Society of Chemistry               RSC Journal Index           Journal of Chemical
                                                   Research          Organic Process R&D.

Society of Chemical Industry                               Chemistry & Industry   

The Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan homepage is also available
via the ACS publications page.

You can use Veronica to find information that is available via the Internet, 
but which is not on the WWW, and an excellent starting point is:-

7.5  What chemical patent information is available on-line?

Both Dialog and STN offer commercial access to US and International patents
online, many with full text - however the international ones, especially
those devoted to capturing the current status of patents can be expensive,
so ensure your searching skills are honed if you wish to avoid a large
    A new site that offers free searching of the last 20+ years of US 
    patents, and also provide the abstracts, some images, and the claim 
    summary free. Complete copies of the patents can also be ordered. 
    It has a good search engine, and probably should be the first site to 
    visit, but note that it requires a browser that supports frames
    (eg version 3 of Netscape or Internet Explorer).   STO Patent retrieval service
    Gregory Aharonian has struggled for several years to provide a free, 
    comprehensive patent title service. This excellent free service offers 
    the titles of chemical, mechanical, or electrical patents via email 
    to subscribers. Recently he also offered one years worth of patent 
    abstracts, but requires some financial donations to expand the 
    service.  The abstracts are freely retrievable by patent number (sorry 
    no searching yet, that needs the big donations). For subscription info, 
    send 'help' to [email protected]                   USPTO/CNIDR Patent Project
    This page provides access to both the U.S. Patent Bibliographic 
    Database, which includes bibliographic data from 1976 to 1997, and 
    the AIDS Patent Database, which includes the full text and images 
    of AIDS related patent issued by the U.S., European and Japanese 
    Patent offices.

7.6  Which FTP sites contain chemistry-related material?
    Jan Labanowsky's server, also contains an archive of the computational 
    chemistry mailing list.
    QCPE archive
    Dos and Windows public domain and shareware

7.7  What chemistry-focused mailing lists exist? 
    Overview of chemical mailing lists.
[email protected] 
    Chemistry laboratories (both academic and research), students' 
    experiments (high school, college and university), classroom 
    demonstrations and shows for the public of chemical processes, 
    chemistry stockroom management, lab safety, and  small-scale chemical 
    waste handling procedures.
7.8  How can I contact Chemical Societies electronically?

In general, most WWW sites will also contain email addresses that they
can be contacted through.
    The American Chemical Society homepage provides access information, 
    and additional email support is available via the following:- 
[email protected]           ACS Division information      
[email protected]               ACS expositions
[email protected]            ACS membership information
[email protected]           ACS national meeting information
[email protected]               Reaction Times (college newspaper)
[email protected]           ACS regional meeting information
[email protected]               ACS state and local government affairs
[email protected]
    The UK Royal Society of Chemistry, WWW and email address.
    The UK Society of Chemical Industry.
[email protected]
    The German Chemical Society (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, GDCh)
    The Chemical Society of Japan ( English index )
7.9  How can I contact large chemical companies? 

Check their WWW pages for information.           Argus Chemicals                            Ciba                             Dow Chemicals                         Eastman Chemicals            GE Plastics                         Hoechst                           Eli Lilly                        Monsanto                Quality Chemicals                        Rohm and Haas                Shell (US) Chemicals                      Sigma, Aldrich and Fluka                 Sumitomo Chemicals

You can observe the naming conventions, so try for 
other companies not listed, and you can also try using the on-line version
of the Thomas Register.

7.10 How can I contact chemical suppliers? 

Several major chemical suppliers now have on-line catalogues on the WWW.
    Sigma, Aldrich, Fluka, and Riedel de Haen chemical catalogues
    Acros Chemicals catalogue
    Fisher Chemical catalogue
Check out the FAQs in rec.pyrotechnics and alt.drugs, they may also list 
some legal suppliers. With the rapid growth of the WWW, it is usually
a good idea to conduct a search to locate suppliers, and you could try
the Chemsources or Thomas Register sites to locate addresses.  ( not searchable in March 1997 )

Use of WWW search engines and specific terms like "biochemicals" 
will locate the WWW and email addresses of speciality suppliers

7.11 How can I contact equipment suppliers 

Check out the FAQs in rec.pyrotechnics and alt.drugs, they may also list 
some legal suppliers. With the rapid growth of the WWW, it is usually
a good idea to conduct a search to locate suppliers on the Internet, 
and using the Thomas Register site to locate suppliers not on the Internet.
    Thomas Register                    ( manufacturers and suppliers ) 
    Sigma, Aldrich, Fluka and Supelco  ( techware and books )
    Fisher Catalogue                   ( general lab equipment )
    Indigo Instruments                 ( instruments & glassware ) 

7.12 How can I contact US government agencies?
    FedWorld Information Network at the National Technical Information 
    Service NTIS) was created "to provide a one-stop location for the public 
    to locate, order, and have delivered to them, U.S. Government 
    Federal Information Exchange - federal government sites
    US Government Internet Resources
    Other US Government Servers 
    Federal Web Location System
    Executive Branch Gophers (Library of Congress) 
    National Institute of Standards and Technology
    Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (Searchable) 
    Department of Transportation 
    Environmental Protection Agency 
    Federal Communications Commission 
    Government Printing Office

7.13 Where can I find compilations of science humour?
    For the best science satire around, check out the Annals of Improbable 
    Research, successor to the Journal of Irreproducible Results. Whilst 
    the full version is available via subscription services, such as
    ClariNet, smaller items are published free in the Mini AIR.
    A huge 500kB compilation of science jokes regularly posted to Usenet.
    Search selections from the Annals of Improbable Research

7.14 Where can I purchase scientific software?

Aldrich and Fisher sell software, as do some of the Chemical Societies 
    Sigma, Aldrich, Fluka and Supelco
    Fisher Catalogue                   
Refer also to "Chemistry Overview Sites " and "Other Chemistry-related 
Resources" in section 7.2.


Subject: 8. Laboratory and Chemical Safety Information on the Internet

Compiled by:      Neil Flatter 
                  Lev A. Gorenstein  <[email protected]>
                  Theodore Heise  <[email protected]>
                  Mark Perks  <[email protected]>
Mutilated by:     Bruce Hamilton

8.1  Where can I find Material Safety Data Sheets?

Manufacturers are required by OSHA to provide MSDSs for the chemicals they 
produce, but most include liability disclaimers.  For MSDSs obtained from 
online sources, the user must be sure the MSDS meets his/her needs.  As with 
most information obtained from the Internet, use at your own risk!. If you
don't know how to interpret the data, find an expert to explain the 
significance of the information presented. Because the number of WWW sites
with MSDS are changing all the time, it is often preferable to use a WWW
search engine to find the latest sources of data sheets. 
    The comprehensive Vermont SIRI location is an excellent first port of 
    call when searching for chemical safety information. ~180,000 MSDS
    The Cornell site mirrors the Vermont SIRI site and also contains the
    US Department of Defence CD-ROM MSDS. ~325,000 MSDS
    The Dept. of Chemistry, University of Kentucky, maintains an up-to-date
    " Where to find MSDS on the Internet " site pointing towards over
    thirty useful locations.
    CambridgeSoft Corporation's Chemfinder free searching server will also
    locate safety information for chemicals, including ~60,000 MSDS.
    The Fisher Scientific Chemical Catalog is available online. In addition 
    to MSDSs, you can order chemicals.
    Environmental Chemicals Data and Information Network in Italy provides 
    a searchable database with 120,000 MSDS.    
    Composite of information from Material Safety Data Sheets.

8.2  Where can I find detailed safety & toxicity data? 
    The comprehensive Vermont SIRI location is an excellent first port of 
    call when searching for chemical safety information.
    CambridgeSoft Corporation's Chemfinder free searching server will
    also locate safety information on chemicals, including MSDS.
    EPA Chemical Substance Factsheets for over 300 chemicals
    The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the
    Centers for Disease Control maintains a searchable database which 
    contains toxicological profiles of about 200 chemicals.

Note that many government departments now have made their databases 
available to both commercial database suppliers ( such as Knight Ridder )
and private citizens. Some are free, and some charge, it is worth contacting
government agencies like OSHA, NIOSH, EPA, NIH and asking about what is
available. Some databases ( like NIH library ) can be accessed via telnet, 
as also can Dialog ( once you have an account number ). eg
Telnet Medlars.NLM.NIH.Gov  ( IP )

8.3  Where can I find occupational exposure limits?
    The most well-known list of occupational exposure limits is the annual
    list of TLVs and BEIs compiled by the ACGIH, who also offer a diverse
    range of reports and pointers to other sources of information. 
    Recent (but perhaps not most current, but it is being updated) site
    for the Code of Federal Regulations. Title 29 of the CFR (Labor) 
    section 1910.1000 lists OSHA's permissible exposure limits (PELs) 
    for air contaminants.

8.4  Where can I find hazard information for a chemical?

In general, the first contact should be the safety professional at your
institution, local poison centre or local fire department - as they will 
be trained to review and comprehend the information they have access to.
A WWW visit to the sites in sections 8.1 and 8.2 will also provide some
information, and point to other sources. The following site has pointers 
to several useful sources. 
    Carolla Christie of Christie Communications maintains an excellent 
    list of environmental and occupational health and safety information 
    resources available on the Internet. Many of the useful organisation
    and institutional resources currently are only contactable via email. 

8.5  Where can I find laboratory safety guides? 
    Carolla Christie of Christie Communications maintains an excellent 
    list of environmental and occupational health and safety information 
    resources available on the Internet.
[email protected] - RISKANAL mailing list. 
    discusses environmental and occupational health and safety issues, 
    particularly those associated with college and university campuses, 
    although a wide range of subjects is encouraged.

8.6  Where can I find other safety information?

Many of the Chemistry Overview WWW sites in Section 7.2 also have safety
sections with extensive numbers of pointers to WWW sites. Some US 
Government departments ( OSHA, EPA, NIH ) have WWW sites with information,
which can be accessed directly, or via some of the sites in Section 7.12.
    The ACS division of Chemical Health and Safety homepage.          
    The Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry            
    The American Industrial Hygiene Association

The WWW site below has large numbers of pointers to other sites with 
extensive ranges of information on chemical, laboratory, and general 
safety issues.
    Carolla Christie of Christie Communications maintains an excellent 
    list of safety information resources available on the Internet.
    The list is also posted to the SAFETY mailing list above.


Subject: 9. Traditional General Chemistry Information Sources 

9.1  When can I find Chemical Abstracts? 

Chemical Abstracts is produced by the ACS and is available either in 
hardcopy or CD-ROM form in most institution libraries that have a chemistry 
department. It is expensive, and is also available commercially from several 
online database suppliers ( refer to Section 7.1 ). It is not legally 
available free over the Internet. Some libraries have accidentally enabled 
limited search access for anonymous users, but this is usually soon 
curtailed, so enjoy them while you can :-).

If your school does not have access, the librarian should be able to 
ascertain the nearest library that holds the hardcopy CA and also permits 
public access. CA volumes are not available for interloan. All chemicals are 
given an arbitrary Registry Number as they are encountered by the Chemical 
Abstracts Service ( Section 12.1 ). Many information sources now also use 
the CAS RN to overcome potential nomenclature confusion.  
9.2  Where can I obtain chemical patent information? 
Most governments have a patent office, and there are usually branches in main
centres. If you are able to obtain access to the patents at the patent office, 
and are familiar with patent codes, or know the patent number, the cost will 
be lower than using a patent attorney. If you do not know how to search for 
patents, and your time is valuable, you will find that using a patent 
attorney will be very cost effective. An excellent guide to the general 
concepts of patents and what you can expect to find, along with the 
advantages and disadvantages, is " What Every Engineer Should Know About 
Patents" [1]. 

9.3  Where can I purchase chemicals? 

The chemicals usually found in home chemistry sets can usually be purchased
at the shop where the set was obtained, or the local hardware shop or
pharmacist, provided the chemical is not subject to government or state
restrictions. Many chemicals are only available to approved purchasers. 
If the chemical is used for a hobby, then it is very likely the FAQ for that 
Usenet group ( eg rec.pyrotechnics ), will contain information on suppliers. 
Most national chemical societies publish an annual listing of suppliers with 
their journals. Standard trade directories ( eg  Chem Sources [2,3] and OPD
Chemical Buyers Directory [4] ) list companies who specialise in chemicals,
however few will be interested in small purchases. 

Smaller specialist and boutique suppliers are usually more likely to sell 
small quantities of chemicals to individuals.  Most larger suppliers of high 
purity laboratory and industrial chemicals ( eg Aldrich-Sigma [5], J.T.Baker 
[6] ) will only sell a limited range of chemicals to individuals , and 
usually do not provide any discounts for individuals - unless they have an 
account with the company. I'm not sure about the US, but here in NZ discounts
can halve the price of most chemicals.
If you are intending to acquire a wide range of chemicals over time, an 
account may be a good idea, however remember that you may then be subject to 
inspection visits by regulators if you purchase certain chemicals. Most 
government and corporate organisations and laboratories also have policies 
of not supplying unknown individuals with *any* chemical.  Some chemical 
suppliers are also accessible via the Internet ( refer Section 7.10 )

9.4  Where can I purchase laboratory equipment? 

As with chemicals, simple laboratory equipment can be purchased from the
suppliers of home chemistry sets. Some government and state authorities
require certain equipment ( eg stills ) to be registered, especially if it
can be used to produce illegal substances. Most larger suppliers may 
require an account, but often specialist supplies can be purchased from
hobby shops such as home brew kit suppliers. Once again the FAQ of
relevant newsgroups ( such as alt.drugs and rec.pyrotechnics ) may provide
the names of suppliers, as can trade directories and the Yellow Pages.
Cole Palmer and Fisher offer free comprehensive catalogues that identify 
what is available. Some equipment suppliers are accessible via the Internet 
( refer Section 7.11 ).

9.5  What reference texts should I search first? 

If you require basic physical information about a chemical then many 
chemical suppliers catalogues also include common properties - such as 
boiling point, melting point, density, and flash point. Aldrich, Merck, 
and Lancaster provide information on organic chemicals, and Sigma covers 
biochemicals. Chemical catalogues also often provide cross references to the 
Chemical Abstracts Registry Numbers, the Merck Index, spectral libraries, 
safety, and preparation information. The actual product purity may limit the
accuracy of the data, and more accurate information could be available
in the Rubber Handbook or Merck Index. As catalogues are usually free on 
request ( Aldrich catalogue is also available on disk as a searchable 
database for $25 ), they are an excellent initial information source that 
will often direct you to appropriate reference texts. You may be able to
acquire an older edition by asking your chemistry teacher or chemical
storeroom supervisor.

Depending on the type of chemical information required, some specialist
reference texts may be required, but there are several texts that are common 
to most fields of chemistry. These are usually found in the reference 
section of most public and technical libraries and, because they are often 
heavily discounted for students, many chemists have copies of several of 
them. If your library does not have them, ask some of your teachers for 
access to their personal copy. 

Many of these texts are now also available on CD-ROM, usually at a slightly 
lower cost than the hardcopy, however the Merck Index is an exception where 
the CD-ROM version costs significantly more than the hardcopy. The Merck 
Index is an excellent starting point for information on organic chemicals 
used in the agricultural, biochemical, chemical, and pharmaceutical 
industries. It is usually available, along with the Rubber Handbook, in the
reference section of libraries. Don't expect a $7,000 encyclopedia set like 
Kirk Othmer to be freely available over the Internet, or available on 
CD-ROM for $100 :-). I have also marked those that are commercially 
available through online services with an asterisk.

For more detailed aspects of individual compounds, common texts include:- 

CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics  ( aka Rubber Handbook ) [7]
  - tabulations of diverse chemical and physical properties.
  - start here for physical data with minimal description.
The Merck Index * [8]
  - brief monographs on most common organic chemicals, especially those 
     used in the chemical, biochemical, and pharmaceutical industries.
  - excellent source for physical and physiological properties, common 
     names, and CAS RN.
  - monographs point to more descriptive sources.
  - available on CD-ROM, but the hardcopy version is much cheaper.
Lange's Handbook of Chemistry [9]
  - tabulations of chemical properties.
Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary  [10]
  - very brief monographs on a wide range of common industrial chemicals.
  - very good starting point to ascertain physical properties of both
     inorganic and organic chemicals used in commerce.
  - Available on CD-ROM
Tables of Physical and Chemical Constants ( aka Kaye and Laby ) [11]
  - tabulations of constants, often not in the Rubber Handbook   
The Chemical Technicians' Ready Reference Handbook [12]
  - tabulations of various common chemicals and materials.
The Matheson Gas Data Book - 6th edition [13]
  - tabulations of properties of a diverse range of gases 
There are several good general "science" texts that provide basic coverage
of aspects of chemistry, eg the concise version of the McGraw Hill 
Encyclopedia of Science and Technology [14] or Van Nostrand's Scientific
Encyclopedia [15]. There are also several single volume chemistry books 
that provide brief monographs covering diverse aspects of chemistry, such as 
the McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Chemistry [16]. These texts are often found 
in the reference sections of general libraries.

The next source is usually the encyclopedia sets that are also found in the
reference section of general libraries. There are some general ones that 
cover all fields of science, and often have annual updates. An example is 
the 20 volume McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, available
in hardcopy or CD-ROM versions [17].

For more detailed, but still with general coverage, there are at least two 
popular large multi-volume chemistry encyclopedias. One, or both, of these 
is usually found in the reference sections of technical and large public
libraries. These have become the standard first point of reference for 
information on properties, production, and applications of industrial 

Kirk Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology - 4th edition * [18]
  - excellent 27 volume set 
  - extensive monographs on chemical families and processes.
  - start here if you wish to obtain up-to-date, easy-to-read, comprehensive 
    technical information on an amazingly diverse range of chemistry. 
  ( available in hardcopy ($324/volume, around $7,000/set), online, on 
    CD-ROM, and as a greatly-abridged concise volume (3rd Edition = $110)

Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry - 5th edition [19]
  - excellent translation from the original German edition. 
  - extensive monographs on common industrial processes 
  - the style is different to Kirk Othmer in that information is not so well
    integrated into the monograph, but often contains more hard information
    and good reviews of specific topics.

There are also the very large multi-volume sets of specialised chemical
information that are mainly only found in institutions that have a strong 
chemistry or chemical engineering component, such as: 

Beilstein * [20] 
  - provides detailed monographs of most organic chemicals, covering
    preparation, properties and structure.
Gmelin [21]
  - provides detailed information on most elements and inorganic chemicals
Heilbron * [22]
  - provides short monographs of many organic compounds, mainly listing
    properties and references to preparations. An excellent way to 
    quickly find information on chemicals.
McKetta - Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing and Design [23]
  - extensive monographs containing technical data on chemical processes.
Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Engineering - 2nd edition * [24]
  ( available in hardcopy, online, and in a greatly-abridged concise volume )
  - detailed monographs on common polymers and processes
Thorpe's Dictionary of Applied Chemistry [25]
  - getting old, but *still* contains lots of excellent information on the
    properties and industrial applications of chemicals 
  - is very useful for historical information on how a product developed.

For more specialised references, refer to the appropriate section of this
FAQ, however I will list a few texts covering general laboratory techniques
not mentioned elsewhere. If your local bookshop does not carry specialist
technical books, many are also available from appropriate chemical and 
equipment suppliers, such as Aldrich-Sigma and Supelco.
Vacuum = High Vacuum Techniques for Chemical Syntheses and Measurements [26].
       = High Vacuum Techniques [27]
Pipework = Swagelok Tube Fitting and Installation Manual [28]
Thermocouples = Thermocouples: Theory and Practice [29]
( The Omega catalogues are also a good source of practical information
  on a wide range of temperature, flow and pressure sensors ) 
Many of the laboratory safety texts also include sections on design and
management of laboratories.

9.6  Where can I find physical and spectral properties of chemicals?

Some chemical suppliers catalogues ( eg Aldrich [5] ), also include common
properties such as boiling point, melting point, density, flash point.
Most will provide a catalogue free on request, but it is often easier to 
obtain an obsolete edition from your institution, as they usually just throw 
them out. The most information is often in catalogues from international 
laboratory chemical suppliers ( eg J.T.Baker [6], Merck [30], Rhone-Poulenc 
[31] ), and specialist organic chemical suppliers ( eg Aldrich [5], 
Sigma [32], Janssen [33], Lancaster [34] ), however it should be remembered
that the product purity will affect the value reported, and that more
accurate values may be available in references such as the Merck Index or
Rubber Handbook. 

Once you have checked the catalogues, and checked the standard texts above, 
then more specialised compilations should be checked. For spectral 
properties, there are several large compilations of detailed spectral
properties, including infra-red [35-37], NMR [38-40], and mass-spec [41,42]. 
These are usually located near the instruments, rather than in the library,
however the NIST IR and mass spectral libraries are accessible via the WWW 
( refer Section 7.2 ).

Most transportation safety compilations and MSDS also list common physical
properties, as do the most of the encyclopedia sets ( refer Section 9.5 ).
More specialised information is usually found in specialist books or
journals, such as the Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data.

9.7  Where can I find production data for commercial chemicals 

Both Kirk Othmer and Ullmann tabulate production data, and identify
major manufacturers, and more recent information is found in monographs 
in CMR. C&EN also tabulates production data for the major industrial 
chemicals and publishes an annual listing of the top 50 chemicals. Lists of 
manufacturers of chemicals are found in compilations such as Chemical 
Sources [2,3] and trade directories. There are also industry organisations
such as the Chemical Manufacturers Association that maintain records of
production. Specialist industry journals usually provide annual surveys
of production and capacity. Government departments ( often the Dept. of
"Trade & Industry" or "Commerce" ) also compile national production

9.8  Where can I find the composition of a proprietary chemical?

If it has been patented, the composition will be detailed in the patent,
and any local patent agent should be able to locate and obtain a copy. 
Transportation regulations usually require manufacturers to list components,
consequently examination of the MSDS often provides an indication of major
components, some of which are likely to just be the solvent. There are also
compilations of chemical tradenames that may also indicate what the major
components in a proprietary chemical. Hawley, Gardner, Industrial 
Chemical Thesaurus [43], Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemical Additives [44],
and the Chemical Tradenames Dictionary [45] are good starting points. 

In some countries only the "active" or "toxic" ingredients have to be 
disclosed, consequently chemical analysis would have to be undertaken. 
Another technique is to look for equivalent formulations - to ascertain what 
ingredients are typically used, and the multi-volume Chemical Formulary [46] 
is one of the best sources if you can not justify a patent search. 

9.9  Where can I find out about the history of Chemistry? 

There is a Usenet group that is very knowledgeable and
active, and includes individual events in the history of chemistry. There
are usually several overview books on the history of chemistry in most school 
and public libraries, and example is "The History of Chemistry" by J.Hudson
[47]. There are also several outstanding biographies of famous chemists, and 
many chemical societies and chemical firms have commissioned books on 
specific aspects of chemistry history. The Journal of Chemical Education 
often has articles on specific historical aspects of chemistry.   

9.10 Where can I find out about the discovery of an element?

The Rubber Handbook has a monograph on each element, including a brief
discussion of the discovery. "Chemistry of the Elements" by Greenwood and 
Earnshaw [48], and "The Elements" by Emsley [49], also provide good 
discussions, and Gmelin provides a fairly comprehensive discussion of 
discovery of each element. In each of the above, the discovery of each 
element is taken in isolation. The best general overview that provides a 
cohesive framework explaining the overall progression of discoveries, is 
"Discovery of the Elements" by Weeks [50], and it should be available in most 
libraries. For the more recent elements, there usually are brief reports and 
discussions in C&EN and the Journal of Chemical Education.  

9.11 What inspirational books about chemistry should I read?

Do they exist :-)?. You could try "The Chemical Bond: Structure and Dynamics"
edited by A.Zewail [51]. It contains articles by several Nobel Laureates.

If you want to be entertained, and only have time for a short read, try the
"Chemistry in the Next Century" [52] article in Industrial and Engineering
Chemistry written in May 1935 by Thomas Midgley, Jr.. He was responsible for 
the discovery and development of CFCs and alkyl lead octane enhancers for 
gasoline - two chemical developments that became so pervasive and useful 
that their use resulted in unintentional environmental pollution. 
For a brief story about their discovery, try "Midgley - Saint or Serpent" 
[53] in Chemtech. It confirms that old saying " Luck is when preparation
meets opportunity ". 


Subject: 10. Traditional Laboratory and Chemical Safety Information Sources
10.1  Where can I find Material Safety Data Sheets? 

Most suppliers of chemicals will provide a MSDS on request if you are a
customer. Several major chemical suppliers have combined their own MSDS 
sheets and issued major compilations, eg Sigma-Aldrich [1] ( available on 
CD-ROM or Magnetic Tape for $1,650), which may be available in the
library. If a librarian can not locate the MSDS database, then try the 
Health and Safety Officer, who should know where to find MSDS. Larger
organisations often purchase a compilation and make it available on a 
computer network for in-house use. The US Department of Defence CD-ROM
of approximately 200,000 MSDS is available for approximately $100. 

10.2  Where can I find hazard information for a chemical? 

Chemical suppliers usually include common hazard information in their
catalogues. Merck and Hawley also list some information. Large compilations 
include Sax, Fire Protection Guide to Hazardous Materials [2],
Sigma-Aldrich Library of Chemical Safety Data [3], CRC Handbook of
Laboratory Safety [4], and Hazards in the Chemical Laboratory [5]. It is very 
important to realise that hazard information is frequently updated, and so 
information should be complemented with an online search of safety databases. 

If the chemical is already being used at your site, it is probable that the 
Safety Officer or Laboratory Manager already have the required information. 
The Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards [6], can be used to check for
possible hazardous reactions. Highly toxic, radioactive, and carcinogenic 
compounds require special precautions, and the Safety Officer or Laboratory 
Manager should be able to provide the appropriate resources to ascertain if 
the compound can be handled safely.

10.3  Where can I find detailed safety & toxicity data? 

The very first question you should ask is, "Am I qualified to assess
the data?". If the answer is no, then your best option is to locate somebody
who is. This can be a Health and Safety Officer, staff of an appropriate
government organisation (eg OSHA, NIOSH ), or a specialist consultant.
Most institutions have a policy of ensuring workers are given sufficient 
information about hazards to ensure they can make an informed decision.

There are several major compilations that are usually found in libraries, 
including RTECS, Sax, and the three-volume Sigma-Aldrich Library of
Regulatory and Safety Data [7]. In general, because safety information can 
become obsolete rapidly, these should only be used as an introductory guide, 
and they should be complemented with either an on-line search or consultation
an expert. Detailed information for unusual chemicals is often difficult to
locate in the published literature, and may only be available to qualified
professionals in the health and safety fields. Sometimes the toxicity has to
be inferred from published information on related compounds, and such 
assessments should always be performed by experts. 
10.3  Where can I find occupational exposure limits? 

There are several organisations responsible for establishing the
occupational exposure limits. The values used most extensively in industry, 
but also the most controversial, are those of the ACGIH. Their TLVs and 
Biological Exposure Indices [8] have been used in many countries as initial 
guidelines until relevant local expertise can assess their suitability. 
They are also misused, despite the clear warnings in the front of the 

The US Government also has Permissible Exposures Limits set by the Dept. of 
Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Recommended
Exposure Limits set by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaff Maximum Concentrations in the
Workplace are often also used. The ACGIH publishes an excellent compilation
of all these limits [9], thus facilitating a review of how experts perceive
the occupational hazards. The International Labour Office in Geneva 
publishes a comprehensive " Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety "
which also covers chemicals [10].
10.5  What is the most poisonous compound? 

" All substances are poisons. There is not one that is not a poison. The 
  correct dose differentiates a poison and a remedy". (Paracelsus 1493-1541)

The McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology [11] lists the 
following table:

"Approximate Median Lethal Doses of Some Toxins per kg of Bodyweight"
Toxin                          Dose                Test Animal
tetanus                     1 nanogram           mouse, probably human
botulinal neurotoxin        1 nanogram           mouse, human
shigella                    1 nanogram          monkey, human
shigella                    1 microgram             mouse
ricin                       1 microgram             human
diphtheria                100 nanograms             human
diphtheria                1.6 milligrams            mouse

Ricin is a toxin lectin and hemagglutinin isolated from the castor bean.
Merck reports the lethal dose in mice as 1 microgram of ricin D nitrogen 
(ip) per kg, and that ricin molecular weight is about 65,000. Ricin has 
been shown to contain four lectins, of which the RCL III (aka Ricin D ) 
and RCL IV are the toxins. Merck also reports the following LD50 per kg 
of bodyweight:-

Toxin                         Dose                 Test Animal
palytoxin                 60 nanograms               dog  (iv)
 ( from coral )          450     "                  mouse (iv)
 ( C129H223N3054 )    50-100     "                    "   (ip)
saxitoxin                3-5 micrograms             mouse (iv)
 ( from shellfish )       10     "                    "   (ip)   
 ( [C10H17N7O4]2+ )      263     "                    "   (oral). 
tetrodotoxin              10     "                  mouse (ip)
 ( from globefish )
aflatoxin M1             332 micrograms            duckling (oral)
aflatoxin M2             1.2 milligrams               "       "
aflatoxin B1             364 micrograms            duckling (oral)
aflatoxin B2             1.6 milligrams               "       "
aflatoxin G1             784 micrograms               "       "
aflatoxin G2             3.4 milligrams               "       "

The complex structure of palytoxin is shown in Merck, and it is listed as 
the most toxic non-proteinaceous substance known.

10.6  Where can I find laboratory safety guides?

The journals "Chemical Health and Safety", and "Journal of Chemical 
Education" have articles on many aspects of laboratory safety. Safety 
Officers and Laboratory Managers at educational institutions and companies 
are likely to have several guides, and a polite request should obtain a loan 
or copy of one, even if you aren't at that institution.  

There are several useful books. The most popular are:-
CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety [4]
  - good general discussion of laboratory safety issues.
Hazards in the Chemical Laboratory [5]
  - good general discussion of laboratory safety concepts with data.
Guidelines for Laboratory Design: Health and Safety Considerations [12].
  - modern design concepts for new and refurbished laboratories.   
Laboratory Health and Safety Handbook: A Guide for the Preparation of a
Chemical Hygiene Plan [13]
  - such a plan is required by OSHA, and additional examples may also be 
    available from chemistry departments of local educational institutes.

10.7  Are contact lenses a hazard in laboratories?
There are a lot of myths about the occupational use of contact lenses, many
of which relate back to a Bethlehem Steel welder in Baltimore who, on the 
26 July 1967, accidentally caused an arc flash that hit his hard contact 
lens. He waited until the next day to report eyesight problems, and an 
ophthalmologist found severe ulcerations on his cornea, but attributed  
the damage to the wearing of the hard lenses for 17-18 hours after the
incident. The cornea healed completely in a few days, with no permanent
vision loss, and investigators found no link between the damage and the
arc flash, but the myth of the welder removing parts of the cornea with 
the lens, and consequently being permanently blinded, continues [14].

The banning of contact lenses from modern chemical laboratories is being
reconsidered in the light of increasing evidence that case-by-case
evaluations are more appropriate. Routine wearers of contact lenses may 
suffer " spectacle blur " when they switch to spectacles, and this temporary
reduction in visual efficiency could result in the misreading of labels.
Contact lenses are not eye protection devices, and OSHA believes that
if eye hazards are present, appropriate eye protection must be worn
instead of, or in conjunction with, contact lenses. There may still be some
laboratory environments where the provided personal protection equipment 
does not protect wearers of contact lenses, and they will remain banned.

There are three major areas of concern about the hazards of wearing
contact lenses in chemical laboratories. 

1. They can hold particulate or liquid material against the cornea.
   The modern soft contact lenses are considered suitable for most 
   environments, except where heavily contaminated with metal particles.
   Hard contact lenses are not considered suitable for use in 
   particle-contaminated areas.  

2. Contact lenses can be difficult to remove after a chemical splash.
   This is a concern, and is one reason why wearers of contact lenses in
   laboratories should be obviously identifiable to first-aid and 
   professional secondary care providers. The copious irrigation procedures 
   with water ( whilst holding the eye open ) that should immediately follow 
   chemical splashes may wash the lenses out, and trained staff can remove 
   any remaining lenses later. Experiments with concentrated sodium 
   hydroxide solution, sulfuric acid, acetic acid, acetone and n-butylamine 
   have shown that contact lenses may actually provide some protection [14].

3. Contact lenses may absorb and retain chemical vapours.
   This effect was not observed in the splash experiments above, and soft
   lenses have been shown to reduce the effect of acids, perhaps because 
   tears can dilute the acid by the time it passes through the lens.
   Some chemical vapours may be absorbed and retained, but often exposure
   should be eliminated by personal protection equipment anyway.

The January/February 1995 issue of Chemical Health and Safety had three
articles on contact lenses, including an excellent article on how to prepare 
for, and act during, contact lenses emergencies [15]. All three articles 
note that changing technologies have resulted in improved lenses that may 
now be acceptable in many modern laboratories, however the merits of each 
case should be carefully examined before approval. The issue of contact 
lenses in laboratories is still being carefully reviewed, as there are also
legal implications for both employers and employees, and laboratory safety 
literature should be monitored to obtain the latest perceptions [16,17].
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