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What is Considered Hazmat Shipping?
May 24, 2022

Hazardous materials are articles, or substances that can harm people, property, or the environment if shipped, stored, or handled improperly. Essentially, hazardous materials are items that pose a significant safety risk in their transportation. Hazmat shipping is the process that involves the shipment of these items.

Products Classified as Hazmat

HAZMAT items are grouped into nine separate classes. Depending on the type of safety risk an item creates, it will be placed under a category from Class 1 to Class 9. There is no specific order to the classification system other than each class poses a unique risk exclusive to their nature. Some classes are broken down into divisions based on their specific characteristic.

Class 1: Explosives

Class 1 contains products that have a risk of exploding under certain conditions. These hazardous items pose a serious safety risk for those who are handling the packaged product. In Class 1, there are six specific divisions.

  • 1.1: encompasses explosive items that have a mass explosion hazard. Examples include dynamite, gunpowder, and mercury fulminate.
  • 1.2: contains items that present a projection hazard, but not a mass explosion hazard. Explosives in this division include some fireworks, detonating fuses, and certain kinds of ammunition.
  • 1.3: explosive items that have a fire hazard, and a minor mass explosion or projection risk. Sodium picramate, solid propellants, and rocket motors all fall under 1.3.
  • 1.4: these items pose a less significant blast hazard. 1.4 encompasses commonly sold fireworks and small arms ammunition.
  • 1.5: explosives in this division are very insensitive — meaning that they have a low probability of accidents while being handled or stimulated. Nonetheless, 1.5 items do pose a mass explosion hazard. Products include blasting agents.
  • 1.6: These explosives are extremely insensitive and do not pose a mass explosion hazard.

Class 2: Gases

Compressed and liquified gases are hazardous materials. Essentially aanything contained under pressure in a cylinder would be considered a hazardous material. This class is broken down into three divisions. Class 2 has three divisions that include Flammable Gases, Nonflammable/Nontoxic Gases, and Toxic Gases.

  • 2.1: this division includes flammable gases such as propane.
  • 2.2: consists of gases that are nonflammable and nontoxic such as Helium.
  • 2.3 includes gases that are toxic when inhaled, Chlorine is considered a toxic gas

Class 2 items include aerosol products, Some are div. 2.1 others 2.2 depending on their propelant.

Class 3: Flammable liquids

These HAZMAT items will ignite upon contact with fire. They include items such as gasoline, oil-based paints, and nail polish. Class 3 does not have divisions but is broken down into three packing groups depending on degree of danger based on boiling point and flash point.

Class 4: Flammable Solids

Class 4 is an assortment of solid materials which have been loosely grouped based on their flammability or combustibility.

  • 4.1: Flammable Solids include materials such as Magnesium, Nitrocellulose based films or strike anywhere matches
  • 4.2: are items that may spontaneously combust such as Phosphorous or certain metal powders..
  • 4.3: materials that are hazardous when wet. Any of the "Royal" metals such as Lithium, Sodium or Cesium react very dangerously with water.

Class 5: Oxidizers

Class 5 is composed of two division

  • Div. 5.1 are oxidizers and include materials such as Hydrogen peroxide which react with organic material and produce Oxygen.
  • Div. 5.2 An organic peroxide is any organic substance having two oxygen atoms joined together. They may be regarded as derivatives of hydrogen peroxide where one or both hydrogens have been replaced by organic radicals. Organic peroxides are thermally unstable substances that undergo exothermic decomposition to yield free radicals, which serve a variety of purposes in industrial plastic and rubber applications.

Class 6: Toxic and Infectious Materials

Class 6 materials have two divisions.

  • 6.1: Toxic substances either liquid or solid. examples include pesticides, cyanides, nicotine, lead compounds, and more.
  • 6.2: Infectious substances are materials which can cause disease in either humans or animals. Classification is broken down further to ; Category A materials which if exposed to can cause severe illness permanent disability or even death. Examples are Ebola and cerain cultured stock such as Tuberculosis. Biolgical substances not meeting this definition and are treatable diseases are considered Category B. examples of a Cat, B would be Salmonella or Heatitis C.

Class 7: Radioactive Material

Class 7 items are considered radioactive and include products like enriched uranium or medical equipment such as x-ray machines.

Class 8: Corrosives

A 'corrosive" means a liquid or solid that causes irreversible damage to human skin at the site of contact within a specified period of time. They can also cause severe corrosion rate on steel or aluminum.

Examples include materials like some strong bases such as Sodium hydroxide and strong acids like hydrochloric acid.

Class 9: Miscellaneous HAZMAT Items

Class 9 encompasses articles or substances that don't meet the defintion of any of the other eight classes but still, through experience, presents a danger during transport. Lithium-ion batteries, first-aid kits, automobile airbags, and asbestos are examples of Class 9 items.

If your business ships hazardous materials and you need to learn more about what hazmat shipping is and the regulatory requirements that exist, reach out to CARGOpak for information about our consulting services and training programs.

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