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Home Products Manufacturers Ingredients Health Effects

Frequently Asked Questions

Topics
  1. Use of the database for poisoning emergencies
  2. Contacting manufacturers of listed brands
  3. Purchasing products and getting samples
  4. Complaint about a product
  5. Use of old products
  6. Mixing of products
  7. What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?
  8. Obtaining a copy of a MSDS for a product
  9. CD or copy of the Household Products Database
  10. Updating of the database
  11. What is included in updating
  12. Inclusion of all products of a manufacturer
  13. Selection of products for the database and suggestions for additions
  14. Currency of information in the database
  15. Unable to find specific products in database
  16. Sources of information on products
  17. Drugs, food additives, and ingredients in packaged foods
  18. Evaluation of information on products
  19. Advice and information on use of chemicals in products
  20. Recalled products


1. Can the Household Products Database be used in poisoning emergencies instead of calling a poison control center?

Answer: In a poisoning emergency, call the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison control center. The call is free, confidential, and handled by medical experts. If someone has trouble breathing, call 911. The purpose of the Household Products Database is to provide health and safety information on household products and their ingredients, not to provide therapeutic or clinical advice.

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2. How do I contact the manufacturer of my product?

Answer: Contact information for the manufacturer may be obtained by entering the brand name in the Quick Search box on the Home Page of the database. This retrieves a list of products by brand names. Click on the brand name of your product to link to a page containing contact information on the manufacturer of your product.

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3. Where can I buy the products included in the database? Could you please send me samples?

Answer: The purpose of the database is to provide you with health and safety information about household products and their ingredients. We do not distribute samples, sell products or keep information on which retailers carry the products. However, we do provide you with contact information for the manufacturers. Please contact the manufacturer (See Question #2) for information on retail stores near you that sell the products of your interest and on where to get samples.

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4. What do I do if I have a complaint about a product?

Answer: Contact the manufacturer of the product. Manufacturer contact information is usually included on the product label. Contact information for manufacturers is also included in the Household Products Database and is verified periodically. See Question #2 on how to find manufacturer information in the database.

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5. We have about two gallons of left-over deck stain that we bought about four years ago. Can we use this stain this spring?

Answer: Contact the product manufacturer regarding the useful life of this product and for advice. Contact information is included in the database. See Question #2 on how to find manufacturer information in the database.

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6. I want to mix some of my cleaning products for more effectiveness. Where can I find information on which products can be mixed?

Answer: We do not provide information on using or combining products or chemicals in the database. Mixing chemicals or combining some products can produces harmful fumes which can cause illness or even death. Do not mix cleaning products unless instructed to do so on the label of the product. Call the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison control center for advice before mixing cleaners or other chemicals.

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7. What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

Answer: A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a fact sheet developed by manufacturers describing the chemical properties of a product. Material Safety Data Sheets include brand-specific information such as physical data (solid, liquid, color, melting point, flash point, etc.), health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, handling, disposal, personal protection and spill/leak procedures. As required by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the target audience for information in a MSDS is the occupation worker who may be exposed to chemicals at work. However, much of the information is also relevant to consumers.

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8. Can you send me Material Safety Data Sheets on products that I find in the database?

Answer: We have provided access to the full text of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all products added to this site since 2007. A link is provided from the product page to a MSDS repository maintained by our database provider, DeLima Associates. If a MSDS is available, you will find a link labeled "Complete MSDS for this product" just above the "Health Effects" section of the brand page. Since the National Library of Medicine does not distribute MSDS, requests for any MSDS not found here should be sent to the brand's manufacturer. See Question #2 on how to find manufacturer information in the database.

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9. Can I download the entire database or get a CD or electronic copy of the database?

Answer: No, the Household Products Database is copyrighted by DeLima Associates. Since NLM only has a license to make it available on the Web, copies cannot be provided to others.

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10. How often is the database updated?

Answer: The database is updated at least twice a year.

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11. What does an update involve?

Answer: Updates may involve adding or modifying manufacturer, brand, and MSDS information for a product. When product information has been modified, the date will be noted.

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12. Do you list all products available from a manufacturer?

Answer: No, only some of the products of a manufacturer are included and we try to include many of the most popular brands.

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13. How do you select products to be listed in the Household Products Database and do you accept suggestions for the addition of products or types of products for the database?

Answer: Products included in the database are selected by market share and shelf presence in retail stores. Yes, we accept suggestions for products to be included in the database. Suggested products should be within the content scope for the database.

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14. How current is the information in the database?

Answer: The information in the Household Products Database was initially compiled in 1995. Since then, records have been updated by the contractor. A lag time may occur between the time when the product label or Material Safety Data Sheet is changed and when the information on a product in the database is updated. Hence, in situations when the most current information is needed, you are encouraged to directly check your product label or contact the manufacturer.

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15. I can't find many of the products that I use around my home in the database, why?

Answer: The Household Products Database contains only a sample of products in the market place. There are over 14,000 brands in the database. We will continually add new products.

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16. Where does the information in this database come from?

Answer: The information in this database comes from the labels on the products, and from the manufacturers' Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

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17. I can't find drugs or food additives. Is there any information on drugs or food additives in the database?

Answer: This database does not include information on drugs or food additives. Only non-food and non-pharmaceutical consumer products are in the database; for information relating to your question, check http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html and http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/default.htm for drugs; and http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_01/21cfrv3_01.html for food additives.

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18. Does the National Library of Medicine evaluate the information provided on a product label or in a Material Safety Data Sheet?

Answer: No, the National Library of Medicine does not evaluate information on product labels or in Material Safety Data Sheets.

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19. You give information on which chemicals are in the products included in the database, but I want information about other uses of these chemicals or their effectiveness. Where can I find this information?

Answer: We do not evaluate or give advice on the use of chemicals. For additional information on chemicals in the database, search other National Library of Medicine databases such as the Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) or TOXLINE

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20. How can I find out if a product has been recalled?

Answer: Visit our new Product Safety and Recall Lists, or contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the manufacturer of the product.

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