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Shipping Hazardous Materials Off Campus

Ethyl Alcohol in a Shipping ContainerThe rules and regulations associated with the transportation of hazardous materials are often described as complex and confusing. A hazardous material is any substance that can cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment while being transported.

The safe transportation of hazardous materials is a discipline that is learned with formal technical training, "on-the-job" experience, and knowledge of the vast shipping regulations. Failure to meet all regulatory and safety requirements could result in detrimental mishaps and/or monetary fines incurred by the shipper.

Federal regulations listed in 49 Code of Federal Regulations, parts 171-180, outline specific hazardous materials shipping requirements for proper classification, documentation, packaging, handling and personnel training. Hazardous material shippers are required to attend a training class every three years, every two years for hazardous materials shipments via an air.

To meet regulatory and safety requirements, University personnel who intend to ship hazardous materials off-campus must provide prior notification to ESSR of all shipments.

ESSR will make arrangements with a trained and qualified professional to assist in the preparation and shipment of the hazardous material.

University personnel, who offer hazardous materials for shipment off-campus without proper documented training records, packaging, container labeling, and document retention, are in violation of federal regulations that could result in monetary fines and/or incarceration. Fines range from $250 - $500,000 per violation and five years imprisonment.

Notification to the appropriate ESSR section is based on the classification of the hazardous materials:

  • Biological Materials - The Biosafety Office provides mandatory training to University personnel for the shipment of human or animal pathogens by commercial carriers. This required training must be conducted every two years and can be scheduled by contacting Biosafety Office at or (301) 405-6513.
  • Chemical Hazardous Materials - All University personnel intending to ship chemical hazardous materials off-campus must contact the Environmental Affairs section, (301) 405-3960 who will provide recommendations on how to proceed.
  • Radioactive Materials - Radioactive materials are not to be shipped or taken off-campus without prior written approval of the Radiation Safety Office. The term radioactive material applies to radioactive solutions or samples and to items which may be inadvertently contaminated such as refrigerators or centrifuges. Radiation Safety staff are trained in the proper documentation, labeling, and packaging of radioactive materials to be shipped. The Radiation Safety Office can be reached at (301) 405-3960.

For University personnel that will be relocating their chemicals and hazardous materials to other campus buildings, please call ESSR at (301) 405-3960 for guidance and assistance.

ESSR requires faculty, staff, and students that take delivery, receive, or "sign-for" hazardous material packages, to participate in an online Awareness Training for Receiving Hazardous Materials program. This training program will provide general awareness for the receiving of hazardous materials packages on campus, including techniques for hazardous material handling, security, and emergency response procedures.

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