UFI and poison emergency calls, how are they related? What is a UFI and where can it be found? These questions will be of interest in the future for emergencies in work and private life. The UFI has been part of my work for some time now: preparations are already in progress for manufacturers, and therefore safety data sheet creators, to apply the UFI to all hazardous chemical mixtures starting in 2021. Nevertheless I think it is important to also inform the other side, the recipients of hazardous substances, about this new UFI number and its meaning.
What are poison emergency calls?
If you or a colleague show signs of poisoning or a related accident occurs, especially after contact with certain hazardous substances, the poison emergency service can be called. They will provide you advice on how to proceed. The Poisons Information Centres in Germany are open 24/7 and provide advice for work-related incidents as well as for accidents in private life.
In addition to the Poisons Information Centres, emergency numbers are also provided directly on packaging or in the safety data sheet. These may refer to a Poison Information Centre or to other qualified services. If a manufacturer is also able to issue qualified information in emergencies, you may even be advised directly by the company manufacturing the product. The creator of the safety data sheet decides who will be contacted. When chemicals manufacturers specify Poisons Information Centres as an emergency number, there are fees involved.
Relationship between UFI and poison emergency calls
Over time, in addition to the familiar hazard symbols (pictograms) and manufacturer’s information, the identification labels of hazardous products will also include a number that looks like the following fictitious example: UFI: MY98-N2NN-KYP0-Y17Y. The format here is four blocks, each with numbers and letters, prefixed with the word “UFI”. The UFI is the Unique Formula Identifier of a mixture. The UFI comes with a notification full of information about the chemicals contained in the mixture. This notification is available to the Poisons Information Centres. When you are looking for advice from a Poison Information Centre and chemicals are involved, it is possible that you will be asked for the UFI. If this is the case, please read out the number from the product label.
But what is the reason for introducing a UFI in the first place?
In certain circumstances, it is not easy to distinguish between specific products. For example, a chemical might be offered in pellet form but also as a liquid using the same name. Accordingly, the initial measures to be taken may vary. Another example would be a product sold as a concentrate or in diluted form. In such cases, the UFI can be used to save crucial time in emergencies rather than giving a more detailed description.
Sources: Website of the Poisons Information Centres Munich and Erfurt Regulation (EU) 2017/542: Annex VIII of the CLP Regulation (harmonised information relating to emergency health response and preventative measures), status 23/03/2017 website of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR)