Is that a fly in the ointment?

No, it's a flaw in the argument ...

Copying data is a flawed strategy. Many cannot see the flaw..

This argument is about getting it right for safety's sake. To build to a crescendo we'd better start with a metaphor.


On the supermarket shelf you can see many different colours of salt. But salt ain't just salt. Sodium chloride is NaCl alright but it's the impurities which give it colour. In the kitchen it is seasoning however in industry there are shonks everywhere.

Since we are talking chemistry here's a thought experiment ...

Shonky operator A adds impurity X to turn their salt pink. X is present in trace amounts so it doesn't matter that toxicity testing hasn't been done. Plenty of safety data sheets (SDSs) on the web for sodium chloride so it is easy to pull one together for a fancy salt with a highly marketable name.

Makes the product look good.

Shonky B however uses a different impurity for a different colour but uses the same SDS methodology. In the chef's kitchen both salts are added to a dish but unfortunately the impurities generate a reaction product.

In this thought experiment too much seasoning only spoils the dish but we can all be suitably outraged by the possibilities.

Low budget

So the metaphor is not salt but low-budget operators copying data, conjuring their own SDS by copying with zero chemical expertise and getting away with it.

Add some unknown impurities. Less refined - and therefore cheaper - ingredients usually have more impurities. Copied SDSs for imposter products can generate caseloads of actual hazards not mentioned in workplaces or on labels for domestic use.

Good operators

We now need to drop the low-budget metaphor to discuss the other operators. Good ones always look for new recipes to improve product profitability. This means reconsidered SDSs and perhaps different product hazards.

There is nothing wrong with ingredients containing impurities. Impurities are ingredients too. Everything has intrinsic properties and chemists, like chefs, know precisely how to deal with them. They know whether the market needs those impurities to keep costs down or needs them removed. Similar product names, different prices, different SDSs, good operators. It all depends on what the market wants.

Bottom line

The chemistry bottom line is that a substance can be deadly dangerous but still valuable provided the SDS shows how to manage it. It is vital for this purpose that accuracy prevails. The word vital comes from the latin word for life and it is vital that data on intrinsic properties of a product or ingredient is curated. In other words, kept up to date and observed in the context of changing science, changing regulations and perhaps even new methods or measuring techniques. Data needs to be maintained. Curated.

The good operators all do that. They have a vested interest in correctness because it is their data. At SharedSDS we argue that the owner of the data is anyone who has a vested interest in maintaining it. Obtaining and verifying data is expensive. You would not voluntarily own the data you use unless you needed to.

The point

The entire and simple point is that data should not be copied from elsewhere. It should be kept in context.

The flaw

The flaw is plain to see. Data is logically out of date the instant it is separated from its curator.

Call to arms

Go to the source Luke - use SharedSDS