What is the NFPA Diamond?

The NFPA diamond, also known as the NFPA diamond, is a diagram that contains information about the hazards associated with a particular substance in accordance with standard 704 of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of the United States. The diagram consists of a very simple color and number code that is intended to quickly identify the hazards of a material in emergency situations. In English it is better known as fire diamond any diamond of hazardous materials (dangerous materials diamond).

Interpretation of the NFPA 704 standard

The Hazardous Materials Diamond is divided into four sections. Each section has a different color and a number. Color is associated with different types of hazards. Blue for health, red for flammability, yellow for reactivity and instability, and white for hazards specific to some materials, for example if radioactive or from biological samples.

The number of each section can go from zero if there is no danger to 4 for maximum risk. For example, a zero in the blue section would indicate that the substance does not pose a health risk, while a 4 indicates that it can be fatal with short exposure.

Blue: health risk

Level 0: Exposure to the material poses no health risks beyond those presented by any common flammable material, eg wood. There are no risks even in cases of ingestion or inhalation of large amounts, for example sodium chloride (common salt). Level 1: Exposure to material may cause irritation and other minor, non-persistent damage even in the absence of medical assistance. For example, acetone or sodium bromate. Level 2: Intense or prolonged, but not chronic, exposure may cause irritation and residual damage with temporary or permanent disability without immediate medical attention. For example, diethyl ether or chloroform. Level 3: Acute exposure for a short period of time can cause serious temporary damage or moderate residual damage, even with prompt medical attention. For example chlorine, sodium hydroxide or carbon monoxide. Level 4: Very short exposures can be fatal or cause serious permanent damage. For example, cyanide, phosphane or hydrofluoric acid.
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Red: flammability

level 0: non-flammable materials under normal conditions, for example carbon tetrachloride. Included are materials that are inherently non-flammable, for example cement, which are those that do not ignite if exposed to air and heated to 820°C for five minutes. Tier 1: Materials with a flash point of 93°C or higher. For example, most mineral oils. They do not light in ambient conditions without preheating. Level 2: flash point between 38 and 93ºC. For example, diesel. Ignition of these materials can occur if exposed to relatively high ambient temperatures without the need for heating. Level 3: flash point between 23 ºC and 38 ºC; Liquids with a flash point below 23°C and a boiling point equal to or above 38°C are also included. These materials can burn under most environmental conditions. For example, acetone. Level 4: flash point below 23°C. They are liquids that burn quickly and that at atmospheric pressure and normal temperature quickly vaporize and disperse through the air. For example, acetylene, liquid hydrogen or pyrophosphoric substances.

Yellow: reactivity/instability

Level 0: Materials normally stable even when exposed to fire and do not react with water. For example, helium. Level 1: Materials that are normally stable but may become unstable under high pressure and temperature conditions. For example, propylene and acetylene. Level 2: Materials that are normally stable but can undergo rapid chemical changes at elevated temperature and pressure. Also included are materials that react violently with water. For example, potassium, sodium and some derivative compounds such as caustic soda. Level 3: Materials that can detonate if exposed to a reaction initiating agent, such as a source of ignition, preheat, or strong impact. Materials that react violently with water or can explode in the event of electric shock are included. For example, ammonium nitrate, chlorine trifluoride or fluorine. Level 4: Materials liable to detonation or explosive decomposition under normal conditions of pressure and temperature. For example, nitroglycerin, chlorine dioxide or sodium azide.
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White: specific risks and special warnings

Special letters and symbols that indicate specific hazards are included in the hazardous materials white diamond section.

OX: highly oxidizing material that can cause other materials to burn without the presence of air. It can sometimes be seen as OXY even though the NFPA 704 standard does not include these acronyms. For example, potassium perchlorate and hydrogen peroxide. C: hazardous material in contact with water. For example, celsium or sulfuric acid. SA: with the initials of Asphyxiante Simples gas, in Spanish simple asphyxiating gas. It is specific for hydrogen, nitrogen, helium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon gases.

The following acronyms and symbols are not included in the NFPA 704 standard, but are used relatively frequently:

COLOR any CORRE: Corrosive materials, usually strong acids and bases. ACID: Strong acids. For example sulfuric acid. ALK: strong bases (alkalis). For example, potassium hydroxide. ORGANIC any . biological material or with biological residues that present a risk of transmission of pathogens. For example, hospital supplies and bacterial cultures. RA, RAD any : radioactive material. For example, plutonium and uranium. CYL any CRYO: cryogenic material. For example, liquid nitrogen. PI: poisonous substances. For example, arsenic and strychnine.

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