Acute toxicity is the toxicity of a single dose, such as could happen in a chemical spill onto the skin or by accidental spilling.
Chronic toxicity is the long-term toxicity of a chemical after repeated low-level exposure for an extended period.
The solvent or emulsifier used in the formulation of the herbicide often increases the toxicity and makes the compound far more harmful than the pure chemical.
The properties of herbicides are documented in safety data sheets (SDS) which describe the chemical and physical properties of a material and provides advice on safe handling and use of the material. In Australia chemical manufacturers and importers must produce an SDS for any chemical that is a hazardous substance and make it freely available to workers handling the substance.
These information sheets are available from the herbicide manufacturer or major resellers. These can also be found online at the APVMA website or by searching the product name and the respective SDS in the chemical manufacturer's website.
An SDS includes:
- section 1: identification of the material and supplier (contacts)
- section 2: hazards identification (including risk and safety phases)
- section 3: composition / information on ingredients
- section 4: first aid measures (necessary first aid information)
- section 5: fire-fighting measures
- section 6: accidental release measures (personal and environmental precautions and disposal procedures)
- section 7: handling and storage.