Not all hazmat is the same.
Updated: Sep 27
As the Department of Transportation determined, "hazardous material" or "dangerous good" refers to a substance or material that poses an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce.
Each year, more than 3 billion tons of controlled Hazardous Materials—including explosive, toxic, corrosive, flammable, and radioactive materials—are known to be carried out in the United States.
To be safely transported, these materials need to be created, packaged, labeled, handled, and stowed adequately; however, if they are not, they can pose significant threats to property, transportation workers, emergency responders, the general and traveling public, and the environment because of the potential for accidents and incidents.
How to determine whether the materials you're shipping are hazardous or not?
Although we rarely consider it, many consumer goods not commonly thought of as harmful are considered hazardous compounds—for example, urgent medical samples, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal care products. In other words, many items play an essential role in our daily lives.
There are nine hazardous material classes, separated by the DOT:
3) Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid,
4) Flammable Solid, Spontaneously Combustible, and Dangerous When Wet
5) Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide,
6) Poison (Toxic) and Poison Inhalation Hazard,
7) Radioactive, 8) Corrosive,
9) Miscellaneous and the Dangerous general placard.
Class 1 hazmat
An explosive is any substance or product, including a device or pyrotechnic substance, that is designed to function by an explosion (i.e., a rapid release of gas and heat) or capable of rapidly conflagrating or detonating due to a chemical reaction within itself.
Class 2 hazmat
A gas classified as Division 2.1 (Flammable Gas) has a flammable range of at least 12% regardless of the lower flammability restriction and will quickly ignite at a concentration of 13% or less in air. (Like Butan, Gas, or Hydrogen) Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, Scuba tanks, or Fire Extinguishers are non-flammable, non-flammable nonpoisonous compressed gases. Poisonous gas is known to be so toxic to humans as to pose a hazard to health during transportation, such as Arsine.
Class 3 hazmat
If you think about it, almost every workplace contains flammable and combustible liquids. Many common materials can be volatile or combustible, including solvents, thinners, cleaners, adhesives, paints, waxes, and polishes.
Class 4 Hazmat
Flammable solids consist of self-reactive materials or thermally unstable and can undergo a strongly exothermic decomposition even in the absence of oxygen; Matches, Sulfur, or Black powder, for example, are considered Flammable solids.
Class 5 hazmat
Materials that generally cause or enhance the burning of other materials by emitting oxygen or Organic compounds containing oxygen & organic radicals fall under Oxidizing Substances & Organic Peroxides.
Class 6 hazmat
The Poisons (Toxins) & Infectious Substances include any poisonous or toxic materials with Oral Toxicity, Dermal Toxicity, or Inhalation Toxicity.
Pesticides, for example, fall under that class.
Class 7 hazmat
Radioactive material emits radionuclides as it decays. There are four additional labels for the radioactive materials - white I, yellow I, yellow II, and fissile.
Class 8 hazmat
A corrosive material is a highly reactive liquid or solid substance that causes chemical damage to living tissue, such as complete thickness destruction of human skin at the site of contact within a given period.
Corrosive materials include acids and bases.
Class 9 hazmat
The DOT considers these goods harmful, although they do not fit the criteria for one of the first eight hazard classes.
Diverse harmful commodities pose a wide range of potential risks to human health, safety, property, and the environment.
Example of miscellaneous harmful materials:
Lithium batteries **(Lithium batteries are the #1 risk in aviation)
Air Bag Inflators/Modules
Dangerous goods in machinery
Expandable polymeric beads/polystyrene beads
Ammonium nitrate fertilizers
Is a hazardous permit required to transport batteries?
No, practically all batteries are class 9, and while they must be labeled appropriately, they do not need to be transported by a driver with a hazmat endorsement.
That said, if you transport class 9 hazmat frequently, it's a good idea to brush up on your hazmat transporting skills.
Is Tanker Endorsement the Same as Hazmat Endorsement? While both involve transporting dangerous goods, tanker drivers require additional training. However, you can receive both hazmat and a tanker endorsement. If you do both, your license will have an "X" instead of an "H."
When applying for a CDL endorsement, you must thoroughly understand the Department of Transportation's placarding laws.
In reality, it is equally crucial if you intend to accept a consignment containing dangerous goods. Unfortunately, the DOT placard requirements can be complicated, and numerous exceptions exist.
When carrying hazardous that requires the display of placards, a hazmat endorsement is necessary (i.e., any hazmat in classes 1-8).
If you found this blog post to be beneficial to your professional life, stay tuned for more posts in the future. Also, if you need to contact us about any question, please fill out the following form. Our logistics experts will be available to help you.