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October - November 2000 Newsletter
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Yes - we are late again with our October Newsletter. Knowing in advance that we will be at the HMAC Meeting in Savannah, Georgia at the beginning of November, we thought we would cheat a little. So, at least for now, we will call this the October-November Newsletter. Thanks for your patience and understanding.


U.S. shippers, forwarders, warehouse operators, and U.S. Flag Carriers - please click on the following link to see if you must register with the U.S. D.O.T. Hazmat Registration Program. http://hazmat.dot.gov/register.htm

For those of you who ship batteries anywhere in the world, you should read the section of our welcome page in this website for "Special information for Airline Employees" and also do a word search for batteries that will guide you to information about other types of batteries. So-called non-regulated batteries are presenting more problems than any of us may have anticipated resulting in additional responsibilities for air carrier personnel in particular. The risks may be greater in air transportation but they also exist in surface transportation and at storage facilities.  We would urge all airline employees who view this website to either pass our address on to your colleagues or have them go to the U.S.D.O.T./RSPA website directly at http://www.hazmat.gov.

The November 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 the committee members.

The meeting this year will focus on Risk Management and we are sure 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.

HMAC is also conducting its First Annual Golf Outing on November 7 at the Southbridge Golf Club in Savannah.  There may be some amongst us that think this is the only reason we are having the meeting in Savannah.  We are assured that this is not the case. Indeed, all of the hard working committee members simply need some way of relieving the tension.... by substituting another form of tension - GOLF! Golfers should contact Sean Bellew via e-mail at www.bcpreg@balchem.com.

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.

This Month:
Infections Substances, Division 6.2 is our topic. In the good old days infectious substances were called "Etiologic Agents" and utilized a weird-looking red and white label. And most transportation people did not have the foggiest idea about that weird-sounding substance. And, not knowing much about those "agents" most of us just pushed them along very quickly in the transportation chain just to get them out of our hair (or jurisdiction).

As often happens when we discuss hazard classification, there is always a newsworthy item hot off the presses that seems to highlight our discussion. In this case we have three hot items. 

  1. Twenty or so years ago the World Health Organization of the United Nations proudly announced to the world that smallpox had been eliminated off the face of the earth. Except for two places.  The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, maintained a sample of the smallpox virus in a cryogenic container just in case a vaccine would have to be produced again. Russia did the same thing. Probably a good idea. Right? At the beginning of this month, smallpox seemed to creep back into the headlines. Smallpox cases have shown up in a few different places around the world.  Medical experts estimate that 40% of the people that may be infected by this virus will die.
  2.  A scientist from the former Soviet Union declared that Russia had perfected a biological weapon from the smallpox strain that was stored in Russia.
  3.  The Ebola Virus, after apparently laying dormant for three years, has resurfaced in Africa.  This is the virus that causes open sores on the body and internal bleeding. It is incurable, causes death to 90% of the people who become infected. The disease is transmitted by the body fluids of the victim, frequently during care and treatment by other family members.

Infectious Substances, Division 6.2, are defined as substances known to contain, or reasonably expected to contain, pathogens.  Pathogens are micro-organisms that are known or reasonably expected to cause infectious disease in humans or animals. Although the risk of death may be rather high, it is not the defining criteria.

In addition to the substances listed above, most transportation personnel are well aware of infectious substances such as HIV (Aids), various strains of Hepatitis, Viral Meningitis,  Influenza, Polio, and rabies. All of these are "viruses".

Infectious Substances also include bacterial infections such as Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Typhoid Fever, and Salmonella Typhosa (causes food poisoning) and Bacterial Meningitis.

Sexually transmitted diseases, some forms of rickets, fungal infections, and protozoal infections such as malaria are also considered Infectious Substances.

And we have only looked at a very small number of examples.  Those small packages of infectious substances can cause a disaster to the local community. For that reason, the packaging has stricter test requirements. For example, most dangerous goods shipments require a 4 foot or 6 foot drop test. Packaging for 6.2 materials require a 30-foot drop test.  That should tell you that the shipper is going to extraordinary lengths to prevent any release of this type of substance.

A final note:  Untrained shippers sometimes take the position that they haven't "confirmed" that the substance is infectious. They "forget" that the regulations read ...... "or reasonably expected to contain, pathogens".  The pathogens are transmitted by airborne (exposure to coughing, sneezing, or aerosol droplets), blood-borne (exposure by unclean surgical instruments such as hypodermic needles or blood from wounds), direct skin contact (such as the ebola virus),  insects (such as the West Nile Virus transmitted by mosquitoes), or food and water borne (contaminated food or water supplies).  So, from now on, don't let those freight handlers use those small boxes to practice their soccer techniques any more!


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