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Hazardous Materials Packaging 101

Hazardous materials packaging is a crucial component of the safe and controlled transport of hazardous materials. To offer comprehensive protection, several types of specific packaging are used depending on the severity of the material. In some cases, single packaging may meet the requirements and a solitary pail or drum can suffice, while in other circumstances a combination of inner and outer packaging may be needed. Examples of this type of hazmat packaging are combination packaging (one or more packages inside of an outer package) or composite packaging (a protective outer package with a single receptacle on the inside). These package types are designed to effectively contain hazardous materials to ensure safe shipping and transport between facilities and approved disposal sites.


Top Categories of Hazardous Materials

Since 2003, nine classes of materials have been defined by the United Nations to help determine the required hazardous materials packaging. This enables companies to maintain compliance when shipping hazardous materials and ensures that safety and containment are the highest priority. These classes include:


  • Explosives (Class 1). Ammunition, fireworks, and other materials that can be detonated or that can explode due to chemical reaction are labeled as Class 1 materials.

  • Gases (Class 2). Gases, or substances that can become gases at a temperature of 50°C such as propane or other liquid petroleum (LP), aerosols, fire extinguishers, and more.

  • Flammable Liquids (Class 3). These include substances such as paints, acetone, alcohol, diesel fuel, gasoline, and other liquids which can catch fire below or at 60-65°C.

  • Flammable Solids (Class 4). This category includes materials that have the potential to ignite under normal transport conditions, such as powders, matches, and batteries.

  • Oxidizing Substances & Organic Peroxides (Class 5). Ammonium nitrate fertilizers, sodium nitrate, and other substances that produce oxygen during a chemical reaction.

  • Toxic & Infectious Substances (Class 6). Any substance that can be detrimental to human health, such as biomedical waste, nicotine, acid, chloroform, or biological cultures.

  • Radioactive Material (Class 7). Depleted uranium, medical isotopes, and other materials that emit ionizing radiation and can cause damage to the health and wellness of humans.

  • Corrosives (Class 8). Disintegrating substances that affect other materials via a chemical reaction. These can include batteries, dyes, acid solutions, and more.

  • Hazardous Materials (Class 9). If certain materials don’t fall under any of the above classes, they are grouped as “miscellaneous”. These can include first-aid kits, dry ice, or even vehicles.

Regulations for Shipping Hazardous Materials