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Hazard symbol

The meaning of «hazard symbol»

Hazard symbols or warning symbols are recognisable symbols designed to warn about hazardous or dangerous materials, locations, or objects, including electric currents, poisons, and radioactivity. The use of hazard symbols is often regulated by law and directed by standards organizations. Hazard symbols may appear with different colors, backgrounds, borders, and supplemental information in order to specify the type of hazard and the level of threat (for example, toxicity classes). Warning symbols are used in many places in lieu of or addition to written warnings as they are quickly recognized (faster than reading a written warning) and more commonly understood (the same symbol can be recognized as having the same meaning to speakers of different languages).

On roadside warning signs, an exclamation mark is often used to draw attention to a generic warning of danger, hazards, and the unexpected. In Europe, this type of sign is used if there are no more-specific signs to denote a particular hazard.[1] When used for traffic signs, it is accompanied by a supplementary sign describing the hazard, usually mounted under the exclamation mark.

This symbol has also been more widely adopted for generic use in many other contexts not associated with road traffic. It often appears on hazardous equipment or in instruction manuals to draw attention to a precaution, when a more-specific warning symbol is not available.

The skull-and-crossbones symbol, consisting of a human skull and two bones crossed together behind the skull, is today generally used as a warning of danger of death, particularly in regard to poisonous substances.

The symbol, or some variation thereof, specifically with the bones (or swords) below the skull, was also featured on the Jolly Roger, the traditional flag of European and American seagoing pirates. It is also part of the Canadian WHMIS home symbols placed on containers to warn that the contents are poisonous.

In the United States, due to concerns that the skull-and-crossbones symbol's association with pirates might encourage children to play with toxic materials, the Mr. Yuk symbol is also used to denote poison.

The international radiation symbol (also known as the trefoil) first appeared in 1946, at the University of California, Berkeley Radiation Laboratory.[2] At the time, it was rendered as magenta, and was set on a blue background. The original version used in the United States is magenta against a yellow background, and it is drawn with a central circle of radius R, an internal radius of 1.5R and an external radius of 5R for the blades, which are separated from each other by 60°. The trefoil is black in the international version, which is also used in the United States.[3]

The sign is commonly referred to as a radioactivity warning sign, but it is actually a warning sign of ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is a much broader category than radioactivity alone, as many non-radioactive sources also emit potentially dangerous levels of ionizing radiation. This includes x-ray apparatus, radiotherapy linear accelerators, and particle accelerators. Non-ionizing radiation can also reach potentially dangerous levels, but this warning sign is different from the trefoil ionizing radiation warning symbol.[4]

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