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Decoding Chemical Labels: Understanding GHS Symbols, Packing Groups, UN Numbers, and More

In the vast world of chemicals, understanding the labels on containers is akin to reading a language. These labels provide essential information about the nature, hazards, and safe handling of the substance inside. However, for many, this language can seem cryptic. This article aims to demystify chemical labels, spotlighting the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) symbols, packing groups, UN numbers, and other critical components that adorn these labels.

Introduction: The Language of Chemical Safety

Every day, industries around the world handle countless chemicals, some benign and others hazardous. The risks associated with mishandling can range from minor irritations to catastrophic incidents. Thus, understanding the language of chemical labels is paramount for safety.

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS): A Universal Language

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) was born out of the need for a consistent, worldwide system for classifying and labeling chemicals. Initiated by the United Nations, GHS ensures that regardless of where a chemical originates or is used, its hazards are communicated in a standard manner.

GHS Pictograms: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Pictograms, or symbols, form the visual core of the GHS. These symbols provide a quick overview of the hazards associated with a chemical.


Signifying flammable substances.

Exploding Bomb

Denotes explosive materials.

Gas Cylinder

For gases under pressure, such as Oxygen.


Highlights corrosive chemicals. For instance, Hydrochloric Acid 37% is a potent acid known for its corrosive properties.

Skull and Crossbones

A universal symbol of danger, indicating acute toxicity.

UN Numbers: The Unique Identity

Every hazardous substance or article is assigned a unique four-digit number known as the UN Number. This number serves as a universal identifier, ensuring that the substance’s nature and associated risks are understood globally. For example, UN1203 is universally recognized as gasoline.

Packing Groups: Classifying the Level of Danger

The transportation of chemicals comes with its own set of challenges. Packing Groups are a classification method used to denote the danger level of chemicals during transportation.

Packing Group I

For the most hazardous substances.

Packing Group II

Indicating a medium level of hazard.

Packing Group III

For substances with a comparatively lower danger level.

Beyond GHS: Additional Label Elements

While GHS symbols, UN Numbers, and Packing Groups are fundamental, chemical labels offer a plethora of other critical information:

Product Identifier

This could be the chemical’s name, its code, or batch number. It serves as the primary identification method for the substance.

Signal Words

“Warning” or “Danger” give a quick indication of the severity of the hazard.

Hazard & Precautionary Statements

While the former describes the nature of the risk, the latter offers guidelines on how to handle the chemical safely.

Supplier Information

Knowing the manufacturer or distributor can be crucial, especially in emergencies.

First-Aid Measures

Immediate actions to take upon accidental exposure.

Alliance Chemical: A Beacon of Safety and Reliability

Alliance Chemical stands at the forefront of chemical safety. Each product, be it the household-friendly Vinegar 50% or the industrial-grade Sodium Hydroxide Flakes, is labeled meticulously in adherence to global standards. This commitment ensures that customers remain informed and can use products with confidence.


Chemical labels are more than mere stickers; they’re comprehensive guides, ensuring that those who handle chemicals can do so safely and effectively. By understanding and respecting the information on these labels, we can ensure a safer environment for all.

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