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September Newsletter
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If I could have stalled another couple of days we could have made this the "September/October" Newsletter.

Before we get back on track concerning the hazard classifications we would remind all of our U.S. readers that there are two very important "Registrations" that you should be paying attention to right now.

Since this website is dedicated to hazardous materials, the first registration you should be concerned about is the U.S. D.O.T. Hazardous Materials Registration. For U.S. shippers, forwarders, carriers, public warehouse operators, and others who offer or transport hazardous materials/dangerous goods, new rules have gone into effect this year that may cause you to register with the D.O.T. even though you were not required to in previous years. You can use this link to the D.O.T. if you are not presently registered - and we urge you to double check to see if you qualify. http://hazmat.dot.gov/register.htm

Of course, the other registration is related to voting. Make sure you are eligible to vote then use your vote to make sure your voice is heard. Even when you vote for the loser, the more votes that the losing candidate received does indeed have an impact on the policy considerations of the winning candidate.

We urge all our colleagues who will be at the HMAC meeting in Savannah on November 8-9-10 to make sure you vote before leaving home or get an absentee ballot if you won't be home on election day, November 7. Reminder: to secure an absentee ballot you usually have to request it at least 30 days in advance of the election.

The HMAC Meeting.
The Hazardous Materials Advisory Council Semi-Annual Meeting is open to members and non-members alike. As noted above, the meeting this year will be held on November 8-10 in Savannah, Ga. This year non-members will be permitted to observe the various HMAC Committees conduct their business. For those of you who are not HMAC Members you will have the opportunity to see the benefits that we all receive as a result of the conscientious work of these hard working committee members.

The meeting this year will focus on Risk Management, a very important topic to those of us that are called upon in emergency situations. And for those people who feel "what could go wrong?" or the "odds of us having an accident are nil" we think that this will be a very enlightening conference.

For those of you who need recurrent Multi-Modal Hazmat training, HMAC is also offering a two-day class on November 6-7, 2000 in conjunction with the semi-annual meeting.

And, last but certainly not least, for all of you "wannabe Tigers", HMAC is having its First Annual Golf Outing on November 7 at the Southbridge Golf Club in Savannah. Quite frankly, we think this is the only reason we are having the meeting in Savannah. Contact my fellow Irishman Sean Bellew via e-mail at www.bcpreg@balchem.com. (Pssst! Don't bet against Sean on any of the holes - privately, we think he is a golf shark).

For those of you who are not on the HMAC mailing list and desire more information about HMAC, the meeting, or the training please go to the "LINKS" section of our website and click on Hazardous Materials Advisory Council - HMAC. Oh, and yes, you golfers can go there too.

And, now, back to our classifications.

In our April 2000 Newsletter we covered Toxic Gases (Division 2.3) and Toxic Liquids and Solids (Division 6.1). Take this seriously. Even small exposures can cause death or serious injury. Serious injury? Aw, come on! Unless the container falls on you what can possibly be a "serious injury"?

Well, to begin with, what about people that have had an exposure and end up going into a long- term coma? Obviously they did not die instantly, or even a short while after the exposure. Suppose there is no coma but the person cannot function normally? Becomes disabled. That, my friends, is considered an injury.

A number of years ago we became personally involved in a mystery. It involved three very young children who became exposed to Agent Orange, listed as a toxic herbicide and defoliant containing 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D. For simplicity's sake we will identify them as Chlorophenoxy- acetic acids. The exposure was caused by a railroad that used agent orange to clear foliage off their train tracks. The tracks ran immediately adjacent to the yard behind their home. The defoliant was used during the summer months while the children played in their back yard.

As fall, and then winter approached, one by one the children became weak and immobilized and then drifted in an out of comas. The doctors could not determine the cause. The parents were frantic. The hospital insurance ran out. The parents moved to a larger home, remodeled it. They put in an elevator so the children could be moved from one floor to another in their two-story home or outside for a breath of fresh (?) air or to visit the doctor. There was no family history of disability.

Our cousin, a neighbor of this helpless family, brought up the matter to us since we were involved with chemicals, more as a matter of conversation as opposed to finding answers. While asking sort of probing questions, the subject of the railroad tracks came up. We questioned the railroad and they reluctantly admitted that they regularly sprayed the tracks in that area with agent orange. We brought this to the attention of the family; they in turn gave it to the doctors.

Focused treatments were initiated. We wish with all our hearts that this true story would have a happy ending, but it doesn't. Yes, the railroad settled with a substantial amount of money to care for these now young adults. The young people have received in-the-home schooling and are all extremely bright. They have their good days and their bad days. But none of the three will ever walk or run or even perform ordinary functions again. And, our cousin walks across the street every day to help that family.

What lesson can we learn from this tragedy?

We frequently get calls from truckers, airlines, and forwarders asking for us to "repack" damaged packages of toxic solids and liquids. Usually when we arrive to determine what, if anything, we can do, we find a "committee" of employees surveying the damage trying to determine what they will tell the customer, or the boss, or the regulators. All the while they are being exposed to the dusts or vapors from the spilled toxic substance. We will never find out how that spill affected their lives long-term. When we witness this from a distance, we evacuate the area, try to get technical information, and arrange for a proper clean up and disposal.

We realize this has been one of our longest newsletters. If you are knowledgeable about division 6.1, Toxic Substances, read no further.

But, if you are not too comfortable with recognizing dangerous goods, please read on.

Liquids and solids that are toxic are included in class 6, division 6.1. Toxic Substances in Division 6.1 can cause death by ingestion (oral toxicity), absorption through the outer layers of the skin (dermal toxicity), as well as by inhalation of the dusts, mists, or vapors from the material.

Division 6.1 uses packing group numbers to identify the degree of danger. Packing Group I represents those chemicals that are extremely dangerous and a very small exposure is likely to cause death. Packing Group II identifies toxic substances that are considered a "medium" danger, and includes toxic chemicals such as cyanide and arsenic. Packing Group III represents a "minor" danger where it usually takes a larger exposure to cause death (but smaller exposures often cause violent illness or the destruction of vital organs such as kidneys or liver or lungs or heart.

Toxic Gases (2.3) and Toxic Substances that are liquids or solids (6.1) that are toxic by inhalation require special markings on the packages when transported within the United States. These markings include "Poison Inhalation Hazard" (PIH) and a reference to "Hazard Zone A" or "B" or "C" or "D" as appropriate. The reference to the hazard zones must be included on the dangerous goods declaration in conjunction with the basic description.

Importers into the United States should review the special requirements for toxic substances with their foreign shippers. U.S. Transportation law holds both the importer and the broker responsible for compliance with these regulations prior to shipping to the U.S.A.

For transportation by highway within the United States any amount of a Division 2.3 or a Division 6.1 Packing Group I that is toxic by inhalation requires placards.

A large number of toxic substances are also "known carcinogens" that can cause various types of cancer, usually many years after an initial small exposure.

Next month - Infectious Substances - we will try to make it brief.

 

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