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HAZMAT Shipping Definitions
  • Biological products - products derived from living organisms which are manufactured and distributed in accordance with the requirements of appropriate national authorities, which may have special licensing requirements, and are used either for prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of disease in humans or animals, or for development, experimental or investigational purposes related thereto. They include, but are not limited to, finished or unfinished products such as vaccines.
  • Biological Material- Clinical or research materials including, but not limited to, cultures and stocks of microorganisms and human or animal specimens, that may contain pathogenic or non-pathogenic microorganisms
  • Category A Biological Substance : An infectious substance which is transported in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals.
  • Category B Biological Substance: an infectious substance that is not in a form generally capable of causing permanent disability or life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals when exposure to it occurs. This includes Category B infectious substances transported for diagnostic or investigational purposes.
  • Consumer Commodity- hazardous materials that are packaged in a form intended or suitable for retail sale. Shipping hazardous consumer commodities still requires training.  Domestic and International procedures for shipping hazardous consumer commodities vary significantly.
  • Cultures are the result of a process by which pathogens are intentionally propagated. Does not include patient specimens.
  • Dangerous Good – International term synonymous with “hazardous material”; any material, especially ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, radioactive, compressed gases, and other hazardous materials, that may pose a danger to people or the environment while in transit. 
  • Division – Sub-category of a hazard class; example “6” represents the hazard class for toxic materials while “6.2” represents the division of infectious substances
  • DGR – Dangerous Goods Regulations; published by IATA to regulate the transport of dangerous goods by air
  • DOT – Department of Transportation; the US Agency that governs the safe transport of hazardous materials
  • Dose Rate - The dose of ionizing radiation delivered per unit time. For example, rems or sieverts (Sv) per hour.
  • Excepted Quantity – Certain dangerous goods, when shipped in very small quantities, are subject to less stringent regulations.  In certain cases the package may be exempt from most marking, packaging and labeling requirements of the hazard class.
  • Exclusive Use – a vehicle that is reserved for the transportation of only a single consignment of hazardous materials, carrying no other cargo, and which travels directly from the point of loading to the point of delivery.
  • Exempt Specimen - A human or animal specimen with a minimum likelihood of causing disease.  In making such a determination, an element of professional judgment is required.  That judgment should be based on known patient medical history, symptoms and individual circumstances of the source, and endemic local conditions.
  • GMMO - Genetically Modified Microorganisms (GMMO) are defined for shipping purposes as microorganisms in which genetic material has been purposely altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur naturally.
  • Hazard Class – Numerical category (1-9) to which a hazardous material is assigned, based on the danger it poses in transit.  A detailed description of dangerous goods and their hazard classes and divisions can be viewed here.
  • Hazardous Material - a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce. The term includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, materials designated as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Table (see 49 CFR 172.101), and materials that meet the defining criteria for hazard classes and divisions in part 173 of subchapter C of this chapter.
  • IATA – International Air Transport Association; a membership consortium of approximately 230 airlines.  IATA publishes the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), the requirements that govern the transport of dangerous goods by member airlines.
  • Infectious substances - substances which are known or are reasonably expected to contain pathogens.
  • Limited Quantity – a small amount of a dangerous good that may be subject to less stringent packaging, marking and labeling restrictions.
  • Labeling – diamond shaped hazard warnings affixed to packages of dangerous goods in transit
  • Marking – descriptive names, numbers, instructions, cautions, weights, specifications and other information affixed to a package
  • Materials of Trade – a material, other than a hazardous waste, that is carried aboard a motor vehicle for
    • The purpose of protecting the health and safety of the operator or passengers
    • For the purpose of supporting the operation of maintenance of the motor vehicle
    • By private carrier in direct support of a principal business that is other than transportation by motor vehicle
  • Medical or clinical wastes - wastes derived from the medical treatment of animals or humans or from bio-research.
  • Package – container meeting DOT specifications and/or UN performance standards that is designed to carry a hazardous material in transit
  • Pathogens- micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, parasites, fungi) and other agents such as prions, which can cause disease in humans or animals.
  • Patient specimens – specimens that are collected directly from humans or animals, including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluid swabs, and body parts being transported for purposes such as research, diagnosis, investigational activities, disease treatment and prevention.
  • Placard – large, diamond shaped hazard warnings placed on vehicles transporting dangerous goods in regulated quantities
  • Shipper’s Declaration of Dangerous Goods (SDDG) – Paperwork required under IATA rules that indicates the contents of the dangerous goods in the consignment and a certification that the package(s) is prepared properly.  Please see the example here.  Please note, SDDG documents MUST be printed in color.