Check with Health and Safety Before Shipping Hazardous Chemicals
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
July 25, 2007
A recent surprise visit from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
served as a reminder that not everyone on campus knows the ins and outs
of shipping hazardous materials.
The inspection went fine; records and paperwork showed UNH has been
complying with shipping procedures. Maintaining that record is why Andy
Glode, laboratory safety officer for the university’s Office of
Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS), wants to take this opportunity
to cue the community on the FAA requirements.
“The campus needs to be aware of the importance of properly identifying
and packaging hazardous materials,” Glode said. “Our office
has the tools and expertise available to assist those making hazardous
While it might be obvious that special care is required for certain
substances, it is always best to check with OEHS, Glode said. And it’s
also worth repeating that hazardous materials usually can’t be
sent through traditional mail services; Fed-Ex and UPS are the types
of couriers trained to transport such items.
“Certain batteries may be dangerous when shipped,” Glode
said. “And they’re found in things people might not think
about—like cordless drills.”
Imagine shipping the power tool by air and having it unknowingly stuck
in the “on” position. Without the air circulation needed
for the fan to keep it cool, the battery pack could overheat and start
So, does that mean the drill and other similarly powered tools must
be sent by ground courier? No, Glode said. For air mail, simply remove
the battery and cover the terminals. If a connection can’t be made,
“That’s the kind of thing people probably wouldn’t
even think about,” Glode said. “I like to believe a researcher
will think twice before putting ethanol or other flammable liquids in
the mail. There are other situations, however, where it might not occur
to someone that what they want to send could be a problem.”
An example is dry ice. Items packed with dry ice are typically shipped
by air to reach their destination more quickly. What’s so hazardous
about dry ice, which is commonly used to refrigerate food packages and
research samples? It releases large amounts of carbon dioxide as it changes
from a solid to a gas. If it is used in a container that doesn’t
allow for the release of that gas, it can explode or, if there is a build-up
of carbon dioxide in a confined space, it can create an asphyxiation
The challenge is for people to know the protocols and have a general
idea of what’s required, Glode said. OEHS has created guidelines
to follow when making certain shipments. Check the OEHS website, http://www.unh.edu/ehs/shipping.htm.
Hazardous materials include but are not limited to laboratory chemicals,
dry ice, infectious or potentially infectious materials, strong magnets,
aerosol cans, compressed gases, many types of batteries, flare guns,
fire extinguishers, radioactive materials and internal combustion engines.
“The safest thing is to check. If people have to think twice
or if they have a question, they should give me a call,” Glode
Penalties for violating the federal laws for shipping hazardous materials
can be up to $500,000 per incident for an organization and up to $250,000
and a year in jail for an individual.
OEHS works to ensure shipments from UNH are made in full compliance
with applicable federal and international regulations. For more information
contact Glode at 2-5038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.