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Chemical Safety Resources: Searching Knovel

Key resources in chemical safety and industrial hygiene recommended by EHRS and the Penn Chemistry Library.

Screen shots on this page are reproduced from the Knovel Engineering & Scientific Online Reference Books ( and are copyright 2016 the Knovel Corporation.

About Knovel

Knovel ( a set of online monographs and reference books in many areas of science and engineering. It can be used early in the research process to become aware of general safety information for particular activities, processes, and substances, as well as later in research to learn more specifics about substances. 


  • The Knovel platform includes review treatises and handbooks of properties and other data on substances, so, it can be a one-stop shop for many types of information.
  • Once you have identified a useful text, click the  button to create a virtual bookshelf for future reference.


  • Knovel lacks a structure editor; therefore, structure searching is not possible.
  • The editions of key texts are not always the most recent ones available; check to be sure Penn does not have access to a more updated edition in print or online from another vendor.
  • Check the publication date of information to be sure that it is recent enough to be of use.
  • Different sources employ different identifiers substances (name, CAS RN, formula, etc.); be sure that you are trying a variety of identifiers if you wish to get comprehensive results.

There are several ways that you can find health, safety, and hazards information using Knovel.

Browsing Available E-Books through Knovel

This method allows you to see all of the books specifically relating to chemical health and safety that are available through the Knovel interface.  Once you have located a book that interests you, you can click on its title to be taken to its table of contents, from which you can begin to explore the individual title.  Using the breadcrumbs at the top of the screen will allow you to easy backwards stepwise navigation.

A screenshot image of the "Browse all Subjects" page on Knovel. The Browse button is circled and red with a red arrow pointing towards the hyperlinked text that reads "Safety and Industrial Hygiene".

  1. From the Knovel home page, click the link on the left of the screen that says, "Browse."
  2. Select the Safety & Industrial Hygiene option, under Subjects. 
  3. Click on the arrow next to Safety and Industrial Hygiene to see subcategories, which include the following:
  • General References
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • Industrial Safety
  • Toxic Substances
  • Fire Safety & Firefighting
  • Radiation

Books are arranged alphabetically.  Some of these items may be described elsewhere in this guide.

Full-Text Keyword Searching in Knovel

Using the Search Knovel box on the Knovel home page allows you to search for terms within the conference proceedings and full text of books in the collection.  This will help you find books that contain chapters or sections on chemical health and safety, although the book itself may be devoted to a different topic.  The Knovel search box uses an automatical Boolean AND operator between terms, so all of the terms you input will be found in the results.  You are able to use manual Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOT) to create a more advanced search, as well as the asterisk (*) to stem/truncate terms.

A screenshot image of the search result page on Knovel for the keyword "purge* vacuum line*". The keyword is circled in red with two arrows pointing towards the top two search results.

Using the Knovel Material Property Search

The Material Property Search in Knovel allows you to find specific information about substances that you identify or to profile substances by their properties.  To access it, click the Property Search link from the Knovel home page or any Knovel page, followed by the Open Material Property Search tab in the pop-up window.  Once there, you can build your query by identifying the substances and properties that are of interest to you.

A screenshot image of the Material Property Search screen on Knovel. The text for "Material Property Search" situated next to the Home button is circled in red with an arrow pointing towards the text box for "Material or Substance Name". On the right side of the screenshot, the filter property "exposure limit (percent basis)" is also circled in red with an arrow pointing to the middle of the screen indicating towards the search results.

  1. From the Material Property Search screen, identify the substance of interest to you by inputting its name, formula, or CAS Registry Number.  You will immediately see the number of book sections that have data on that particular substance, and the available properties at the right will change, based on which properties are available for the substance in Knovel.
  2. Click and drag the property of interest to the workspace under the substance identifier.  By default, the field will show up in your search with the relation exists.  This means that the substance must have that property in its record to be retrieved.
  3. You can change the relation from exists to other options.  Numeric fields, for instance, will allow you to search using inequalities or ranges of value.
  4. The blue rectangle at the bottom will update based on the number of hits that match your search criteria.  When you are ready to view your hits, simply click the rectangle.
  5. Your hits will display as a list of tables in books.  Click on the title of a table to view the pertinent sections of the table.

A screenshot image of a table for "Flammability Limits - Organic Compounds" on Knovel.


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