Information on hazardous substances

GESTIS substance database
GESTIS biological agents database
ISi - Information system for safety data sheets

This section in the Exposure and Risk Assessment Department maintains the GESTIS substance database, the GESTIS biological agents database and the Information system for safety data sheets - ISi. In addition, the unit cooperates in consultations with the German social accident insurance institutions and in projects on special topics concerning hazardous substances.

Visualization of hazardous substances online retrieval

Logo of GESTIS database
Source: IFA

GESTIS substance database

The GESTIS substance database contains information on the hazards related to approximately 8800 substances. The substance data sheets contain the following information:

  • Identification (name, synonyms, identification numbers, substance characterisation, quantitative formulae)
  • Physical and chemical properties (melting and boiling points, density, vapour pressure, combustion and explosion data, solubility properties, hazardous reactive behaviour)
  • Occupational health (routes of exposure and toxic effects on humans) and first aid
  • Safe handling (technical, organisational and personal protective measures; disposal; response in case of hazard/accident)
  • Regulations (European classification and labelling, classification according to TRGS 905, Technical instruction of air pollution prevention (TA Luft), German water pollution class, German threshold limit values (TRGS 900), recommendations of the MAK commission, directive on hazardous breakdowns, etc.)

The data is constantly supplemented and updated. Changes in classification, threshold limit values or other regulatory standards are recorded immediately and the occupational protection data is adjusted in conformity to regulations. Free and unlimited access to the GESTIS substance database is available via the internet.


Logo of GESTIS biological agents database
Source: IFA

GESTIS biological agents database

The GESTIS biological agents database contains information for safe activities with biological agents at the workplace, e.g. the required technical, organisational and personal protection measures in the case of specific activities in laboratories, biotechnology and the husbandry of laboratory animals. It also supplies information on important properties of the various biological agents, e.g. their occurrence and pathogenic properties. It contains data on about 15000 biological agents. Information on activities in other sectors where biological agents may possibly occur (so-called "non-specific" activities, e.g. litter service or waste water industry) can be found in non-specific activity data sheets.


Logo of ISi database
Source: ISi

ISi – Information system for safety data sheets

The information system for safety data sheets arose from a cooperative venture with the VCI (Association of the Chemicals Industry in Germany) to provide product information in the form of a database for safety data sheets (PDF, 24 kB, nicht barrierefrei).

The ISi database (in German language) is a continuously expanding up-to-date data pool where safety relevant data on chemical products can be obtained on short notice.

The database offers assistance with prevention, hazards assessment, searching for substitute substances, preparations for measuring hazardous substances and measures for reducing exposure; the database also helps to produce instruction policies and to instruct employees. The safety data sheets also serve as the basis for emergency response plans, for providing protective measures, for disposal and storage instruction, for transportation rules and first aid measures.

The archive of safety data sheets also offers first indications for research in case of occupational disease.

The ISi database can be accessed by:

  • The statutory accident insurance providers
  • Government offices (eg: business and industry supervisory bodies)
  • Emergency response centres
  • Companies - to a limited extent.

A small section of the safety data sheets is available to all users free of charge.

On further Internet sites information is given to the legal bases of the safety data sheet as well as notes for their production and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Cartoon: Woman labelled

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The ZED supports employers in fulfilling their obligations regarding the exposure records.
Source: Michael Hüter

ZED central exposure database

The central exposure database (Zentrale Expositionsdatenbank, ZED) is a tool that helps companies to fulfil their requirement - pursuant to Article 14, paragraph 3, numbers 3 and 4 of the German Hazardous Substances Ordinance (Gefahrstoffverordnung, GefStoffV) - to keep a record of workers who carry out activities with hazardous substances classified in Categories 1A or 1B for carcinogenicity or germ cell mutagenicity, if they are exposed to these substances and the exposure is hazardous to their health and safety. The ZED is maintained and developed in a sub-unit also named ZED. The personal exposure records uploaded to the ZED central exposure database by companies are archived for the legally prescribed period of 40 years. Companies can transfer their data to the ZED via an Internet portal, continuously update this data and manage it independently, which enables them to fulfil their documentation obligation in accordance with the German Hazardous Substances Ordinance Workers can request their data from the ZED by contacting the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). By using the ZED, companies essentially transfer their obligation to furnish and archive information to the DGUV. The ZED also makes it easier for employees to compile their own personal exposure record.


Dr Susanne Zöllner

Exposure and Risk assessment

Tel: +4930130013140