MSDS Transitions to New and Improved SDS

By Alyssa on April 21, 2015 at 10:48 am


If you’ve ever worked in a darkroom, art studio, chemistry lab, farm, car garage, or any other place that requires the use of chemicals, you’ve likely seen a big binder labeled MSDS (acronym for Material Safety Data Sheets) laying out safety guidelines for the handling of hazardous chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the main federal agency responsible for the enforcement of safety and health laws such as MSDS. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires all chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide MSDS laying out the hazards of hazardous chemical products. Two things: first, MSDS are now known as SDS (Safety Data Sheets), and second, as of June 1st, 2015, the HCS will require new SDS to be in a uniform format, and include section numbers, headings, and associated information, as laid out by HCS (find more details on that here).

This is important to Bario Neal, and the jewelry community in general, because until now there was very little information in MSDS about jewelry chemistry disposal, such as liver of sulfur, pickle, acetone, and other chemicals, and every jewelry community across the country seemed to deal with handling differently. This made it very difficult for jewelers and metalsmiths to know how to protect themselves from and dispose of these chemicals properly. Additionally, many of the toxic chemicals jewelers use were not subject to rigorous testing because they were not determined to be “hazardous.” In this way, MSDS were misleading, because many of these chemicals are in fact detrimental to our health and the environment. The new SDS will include product composition and suggested disposal processes, making them more comprehensive and enabling a standardized way of handling.

Schools, arts and craft centers, studios, workshops, etc, will have until June 1, 2016 to transition studio MSDS binders to SDS, and to review expanded hazard information with staff and employees to ensure safe use, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials. It’s also important for jewelers to note that companies they source studio chemicals from, like Rio Grande, Otto Frei, and others are required to provide new SDS this year.

For more information on the new SDS, see OSHA’s website.

Mongolian NGO Obtains Fairmined Certification

By Alyssa on April 8, 2015 at 10:12 am



In February 2015, the first mining organization from outside of South America obtained Fairmined Certification. Over the past couple of years, the Mongolian mining NGO XAMODX has been working very hard to meet the requirements of the Fairmined Standard, and is now celebrating its achievements.

From the outset, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), the non-profit organization responsible for creating the Fairmined model, has focused on facilitating the implementation of Fairmined standards and certification in mines in South America, where there are currently three Fairmined organizations. While any gold mine anywhere in the world can apply for Fairmined certification, achieving the rigorous standards that enable Fairmined certification is difficult. With the help of the Sustainable Artisanal Mining (SAM) Project of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation in Mongolia, XAMODX has become the fourth Fairmined organization in the world, and is currently the world’s only producer of Fairmined Ecological Gold, a special label of the Fairmined Certification reserved for Fairmined Gold produced without the use of mercury or cyanide. Continue reading Mongolian NGO Obtains Fairmined Certification

An Introduction to Pact

By Alyssa on April 1, 2015 at 12:54 pm


Pact is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC that works with poor and marginalized communities around the world to help them attain a decent livelihood and healthy lifestyle, with a focus on sustainability. Bario Neal is particularly interested in Pact because of their Mines to  project, in which Pact applies its mission to mining communities in Colombia, DRC, Burundi, Ethiopia, MadagascarTanzania, and elsewhere (click links for details on each project).

Pact has been in action for over 42 years, developing solutions in collaboration with the communities they serve, establishing strong partnerships with communities and stakeholders, and conducting results-driven work. Pact’s stated purpose is to “enable systemic solutions that allow those who are poor and marginalized to earn a dignified living, be healthy, and take part in the benefits that nature provides. Pact accomplishes this by strengthening local capacity, forging effective governance systems, and transforming markets into a force for development” (click the links to learn how Pact defines these criteria).

All of Pact’s projects focus on achieving three main goals:

  • helping vulnerable people access the health products, services, and information they need for a healthy lifestyle
  • helping people with limited livelihood choices attain the resources necessary to enable income security
  • assisting resource-dependent communities with the development of sustainable practices in order to provide for a viable livelihood

Pact’s overall vision is of a world in which the poor and marginalized are heard, able to build their own solutions, and take ownership of their future. Pact focuses on many different communities around the globe, and their Mines to Markets program is an ideal fit for their mission–in this specific case, to help resource-dependent communities obtain lasting benefits from the sustainable use of their natural resources. With increased income and the agency to get the resources they need, the communities with which Pact has worked have seen an increase in standards of living, better education, and the prospect of a livelihood that extends far into the future because of the implementation of sustainable practices. In Madagascar, Pact has reduced the number of children in exploitative labor including commercial sex work, domestic servitude, and dangerous mining activities by more than 9,000 since 2008. As part of their promise of a healthy lifestyle, Pact works to prevent diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. In 2013, Pact was awarded $9 million by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Affairs to carry out a 4-year project to reduce child labor while increasing the safety of adult mine workers in Colombia (you can read more about that here). Pact also helps communities organize and come together, giving them a greater ability to develop dependable sources of income and have their voices heard.

To learn more about Pact, visit their website.

Image from Pact’s Mines to Markets web page.