OSH Answers Fact Sheets

Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >

Search all fact sheets:

Type a word, a phrase, or ask a question

Risk Phrases Used in the Countries of European Union

What are risk or R-phrases?

The following risk phrases (or R-phrases) and the corresponding number codes are used in countries of the European Union (EU). These phrases or combination of phrases describe the risks associated with chemical products. After a chemical is classified according to its risk, the appropriate risk phrase is provided on the container label, along with other information required by the EU. More than one phrase may be required.

These phrases will no longer be in use as the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is phased in.  Currently in the EU, GHS guidelines should be used for pure substances, with the requirements for mixtures coming into effect by June 1, 2015.  This summary is being kept because you may receive Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) or Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) with R and S (safety) phrases, depending on the product.  In addition, older MSDSs/SDSs may still be kept or used within workplaces.

Phrases are last revised according to 2001/59/EC - Effective Date August 6, 2001

 

Code Phrase
R1Explosive when dry
R2Risk of explosion by shock, friction, fire or other sources of ignition
R3Extreme risk of explosion by shock, friction, fire or other sources of ignition
R4Forms very sensitive explosive metallic compounds
R5Heating may cause an explosion
R6Explosive with or without contact with air
R7May cause fire
R8Contact with combustible material may cause fire
R9Explosive when mixed with combustible material
R10Flammable
R11Highly flammable 
R12Extremely flammable 
R14Reacts violently with water 
R15Contact with water liberates extremely flammable gases 
R16Explosive when mixed with oxidising substances 
R17Spontaneous flammable in air 
R18In use may form flammable/explosive vapour-air mixture 
R19May form explosive peroxides 
R20Harmful by inhalation
R21Harmful in contact with skin 
R22Harmful if swallowed 
R23Toxic by inhalation 
R24Toxic in contact with skin 
R25Toxic if swallowed 
R26Very toxic by inhalation 
R27Very toxic in contact with skin 
R28Very toxic if swallowed 
R29Contact with water liberates toxic gas 
R30Can become highly flammable in use
R31Contact with acids liberates toxic gas 
R32Contact with acids liberates very toxic gas 
R33Danger of cumulative effects 
R34Causes burns 
R35Causes severe burns 
R36Irritating to eyes 
R37Irritating to respiratory system 
R38Irritating to skin 
R39Danger of very serious irreversible effects 
R40Limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect
R41Risk of serious damage to eyes 
R42May cause sensitisation by inhalation 
R43May cause sensitisation by skin contact 
R44Risk of explosion if heated under confinement 
R45May cause cancer 
R46May cause heritable genetic damage 
R48Danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure 
R49May cause cancer by inhalation 
R50Very toxic to aquatic organisms
R51Toxic to aquatic organisms 
R52Harmful to aquatic organisms 
R53May cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment 
R54Toxic to flora 
R55Toxic to fauna 
R56Toxic to soil organisms 
R57Toxic to bees 
R58May cause long-term adverse effects in the environment 
R59Dangerous for the ozone layer 
R60May impair fertility
R61May cause harm to the unborn child 
R62Possible risk of impaired fertility 
R63Possible risk of harm to the unborn child 
R64May cause harm to breastfed babies 
R65Harmful may cause lung damage if swallowed 
R66Repeated exposure may cause skin dryness or cracking 
R67Vapours may cause drowsiness of dizziness
R68Possible risk of irreversible effects

Combination of particular risks

Code Phrase
R14/15Reacts violently with water, liberating extremely flammable gases 
R15/29Contact with water liberates toxic, extremely flammable gas 
R20/21Harmful by inhalation and in contact with skin 
R20/21/22Harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R20/22Harmful by inhalation and if swallowed 
R21/22Harmful in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R23/24Toxic by inhalation and in contact with skin 
R23/24/25Toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin, and if swallowed 
R23/25Toxic by inhalation and if swallowed 
R24/25Toxic in contact with skin and if swallowed
R26/27Very toxic by inhalation and in contact with skin 
R26/27/28Very toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R26/28Very toxic by inhalation and if swallowed 
R27/28Very toxic in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R36/37Irritating to eyes and respiratory system
R36/37/38Irritating to eyes, respiratory system and skin 
R36/38Irritating to eyes and skin 
R37/38Irritating to respiratory system and skin 
R39/23Toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation 
R39/23/24Toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation and in contact with skin
R39/23/24/25Toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R39/23/25Toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation and if swallowed 
R39/24Toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects in contact with skin 
R39/24/25Toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R39/25Toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects if swallowed 
R39/26Very toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation 
R39/26/27Very toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation and in contact with skin 
R39/26/27/28Very toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R39/26/28Very toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects through inhalation and if swallowed
R39/27Very toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects in contact with skin 
R39/27/28Very toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R39/28Very toxic danger of very serious irreversible effects if swallowed 
R42/43May cause sensitisation by inhalation and skin contact
R48/20Harmful danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation
R48/20/21Harmful danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation and in contact with skin 
R48/20/21/22Harmful danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed
R48/20/22Harmful danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation and if swallowed 
R48/21Harmful danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure in contact with skin 
R48/21/22Harmful danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R48/22Harmful danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure if swallowed 
R48/23Toxic danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation 
R48/23/24Toxic danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation and in contact with skin 
R48/23/24/25 Toxic danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed
R48/23/25Toxic danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation and if swallowed 
R48/24Toxic danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure in contact with skin 
R48/24/25Toxic danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure in contact with skin and if swallowed 
R48/25Toxic danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure if swallowed 
R50/53Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment
R51/53Toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment 
R52/53Harmful to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment
R68/20Harmful possible risk of irreversible effects through inhalation
R68/20/21Harmful possible risk of irreversible effects through inhalation and in contact with skin
R68/20/21/22Harmful possible risk of irreversible effects through inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed
R68/20/22Harmful possible risk of irreversible effects through inhalation and if swallowed
R68/21Harmful possible risk of irreversible effects in contact with skin
R68/22Harmful possible risk of irreversible effects if swallowed
R68/21/22Harmful possible risk of irreversible effects in contact with skin and if swallowed

Document last updated on August 1, 2012

Disclaimer

Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.