Every day shipments containing hazardous materials are safely transported by land, air, and sea. These shipments include things like lithium ion batteries, biological materials, and chemicals used in the production of plastics, farming, and research. The transport of hazardous materials is important for the continuation of a strong economy.

However, accidents do occur that may release the materials into the environment and expose humans and property to injury or damage.

Hazardous materials are substances or materials capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce. This includes, but is not limited to:
• Samples taken from an animal or human
• Biological materials known or suspected to contain a pathogen
• Preservatives: alcohol, ethanol, formalin, sodium azide, or formaldehyde
• Shipment containing dry ice
• Shipment containing lithium ion battery
• Compressed gas cylinder
• Chemicals – laboratory or agriculture.

The term “hazardous materials” refers to classes of hazardous substances that are shipped by air. Air cargo is regulated by the International Air Transport Association. The same items shipped using ground transportation are called “dangerous goods,” simply because they are regulated by a different agency: the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Federal regulations govern how thousands of different hazardous materials and dangerous goods may be shipped. Packaging and labeling requirements help ensure safe transport. Regulations may apply to commercial products, chemical mixtures, items containing or contaminated with hazardous substances, and newly synthesized compounds.

Since 1990, the Department of Transportation has regulated the commercial transport of hazardous materials in all modes of transportation. The regulations were formulated to ensure that all who come in contact with a shipment of hazardous materials are properly informed of the hazards and measures necessary for safe transport.

Preparing a hazardous material for shipment is easy with these five steps.

1. Collect hazard information. Provide a very detailed description of the materials to be shipped. If a SDS is available, include the document with the description.
2. Ensure that the recipient has any authorizations or permits needed to receive the materials.
3. Obtain the correct packaging based on the Hazardous Material Shipping Regulations. Contact ORA at (509) 432-3869 for packaging questions.
4. Prepare a WSU Request for Shipment of Merchandise form. This form includes information such as recipient address, detailed description of merchandise, service type, and payment method.
5. Contact ORA’s hazardous material shipping coordinator to pick up your shipment and process for shipping, preferably by noon the day of the shipment.

If you don’t know whether a package you want to send contains a hazardous material or dangerous good or have questions about how to ship from locations outside of Pullman, contact the Office of Research Assurances (ORA) at (509) 432-3869. Explain what you are shipping. ORA can inform you in your package contains such a substance and advise you on how to proceed.