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April Newsletter
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Alan Roberts to become President of the HMAC

Alan I. Roberts, the recently retired Associate Director of the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) will become the new President of the Hazardous Materials Advisory Council (HMAC) effective April 17, 2000.

Mr. Roberts was responsible for bringing 49CFR into harmonization with the United Nations Recommendations for the safe transportation of dangerous goods (hazardous materials). Eventually the U.N. Recommendations end up as the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Technical Instructions and the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG).

HMAC is an international organization with membership that includes chemical and explosive manufacturers, distributors, carriers from all modes of transportation, packing companies, training organizations, consultants, and emergency responders.

R-A Specialists has been an active and proud member of HMAC for over 10 years. If you would like further information about HMAC you can use our "Industry Links" section of this website or www.hmac.org.

Other important issues for April 2000.


Continuing with our attempts to educate shippers, forwarders, and airline employees about the hazard classification system we would like to address Toxic Substances also known for many years as poisons.

Class 2, dealing with gases that are compressed, liquefied, deeply refrigerated, and absorbed in a solid or liquid (such as aerosols) includes Toxic Gases in Division 2.3

We would point out that toxic gases (poison gases) are indeed exactly what the name implies, i.e., causes death immediately after a very small exposure. The main route of exposure is inhalation but absorption through the skin, known as dermal toxicity, is not uncommon.

As with all gases, Toxic Gases (2.3) have another, less obvious, hazard related to the gas being under pressure in a cylinder. This other hazard is that the cylinder itself, if mishandled or corroded or damaged in transit can burst apart into little pieces similar to a hand grenade, commonly referred to as fragmentation, or slowly leak through a damaged valve or corroded sidewall. For this reason countries throughout the world have set up very strict requirements concerning the construction, filling, re-filling, and handling of cylinders. In the United States two types of inspections are required by the regulations - a visual inspection after filling the cylinder and a periodic test procedure which includes hydrostatic testing usually every five years.

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.



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