Hazardous materials are all around us – in the products we use, the buildings we occupy and even the air we breathe. Despite their ubiquity, transporting these materials can pose a risk to public safety or the environment, especially if they aren’t labeled properly.


Common hazardous materials include chemicals, acids, flammable liquids and gasses, radioactive materials, and biological agents. Hazardous materials can be found in many everyday items such as cleaners, batteries, pesticides, and even some foods. It is important to be aware of the potential hazards posed by these materials and to take proper precautions when handling or transporting them.


Common Hazardous Materials Include:


  • Alcohols (rubbing alcohol, high-proof spirits)
  • Bleaches
  • Dry Ice
  • Fertilizer Compounds
  • Fragrances
  • Fuels
  • Mercury
  • Paints, Paint Thinner and Removers


You can determine if a product is classified as a hazardous good by consulting with the items Material Safety Data Sheet (SDS). This is required by law to accompany any and all hazardous materials. The SDS provides information including the item’s shipping name, hazard classification, and its UN identification number. It will also provide information on proper packaging and labeling.


Crunching Numbers


Each year, more than 3 billion tons of hazardous materials are transported within the United States. This includes a variety of chemicals and substances that can be dangerous if not handled properly. 


Despite the many safety measures in place to ensure the safe transport of hazardous materials, an estimated 1,500 undeclared shipments of such materials travel around the world annually, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). This often happens when companies fail to properly declare their shipments, or when dangerous materials are incorrectly labeled. This can pose a serious risk to public safety and the environment.


How Does This Happen?


Shippers break hazardous material transportation laws for two primary reasons: lack of knowledge and financial motives.


Ignorance can be a factor when shippers lack knowledge about the regulations or misunderstand them. In some cases, shippers may not even be aware that the materials they are shipping are classified as hazardous.


Shippers try to avoid the extra costs of training, packaging, insurance, etc. that comes with transporting hazardous materials. While these savings may catch their attention, it’s still extremely irresponsible and dangerous to stray from safety regulations.


Of course, there are other reasons that shippers may violate hazardous materials regulations. Some may do so intentionally, while others may do so due to carelessness or negligence. Regardless of the reason, violating these regulations can have serious consequences.


What Can You Do?


When it comes to shipping hazardous materials, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost, it is your responsibility to know if the products you are shipping are hazardous or not. You also need to make sure that you are using the proper packaging and labeling for these materials. It’s important to be aware of the regulations that govern the shipping of hazardous materials.


If you are unsure as to whether or not the products you are shipping are hazardous, you can check with the manufacturer or with the Department of Transportation. Once you have determined that the products are in fact hazardous, you need to make sure that you are using the proper packaging and labeling.