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What is the Most Common System for Labeling Hazardous Materials?

Developed by the National Fire Protection Association, the NFPA 704 label is the most commonly used chemical safety label system. The label is a diamond shape with four different color segments. Each color represents a different hazard:

  • Red = Flammability
  • Blue = Level of health hazard
  • Yellow = Reactivity
  • White = Codes to indicate special hazards

Numbers 0 through 4 are placed in each of the boxes, indicating the severity of each respective hazard. 0 indicates no hazard, while 4 indicates the most severe hazard. The symbols in the white box are not part of the NFPA standard and are used unofficially to indicate the presence and severity of special hazards. For example, BIO in the white section is code for biological hazards.

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