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Packaging and Transport

Good Practices for Shipping

Classify the Material If a nanomaterial satisfies a relevant transportation safety regulation’s definition of a hazardous material (HazMat), ship in conformance with applicable regulatory requirements. For example, zero-valent iron nanoparticles meet the USDOT criteria for “metal powders, flammable, n.o.s.” and might also meet the criteria for “metal powders, self-heating, n.o.s.”

  • Some authorities provide for alternative, less demanding means of shipping small quantities of some categories of hazardous material. An example is the small quantity exception set forth in 49 CFR 703.4.
  • When nanomaterials are components in mixtures or solutions, one or more of the other components might qualify as HazMat and the solution or mixture should be shipped in conformance with the transportation safety regulation.

Do not characterize a material as HazMat unless it means a definition of HazMat: Doing so can constitute “mislabeling.”

If a nanomaterial does not satisfy any applicable definition for HazMat, but is not known with reasonable certainty to be safe, precautions are still in order.

Precautions for Nanomaterial that is not HazMat

  • Put the nanomaterial into an inner receptacle that is:
    • Constructed of plastic having a minimum thickness of no less than 0.2 mm (0.008 inch), or of earthenware, glass, or metal;
    • Chemically compatible with the contents and;
    • Capable of allowing for expansion of the contents during temperature and pressure changes, i.e., is not liquid-full at 55°C (131°F).
  • Hermetically seal the inner container
  • Mark or label the outside of the innner receptacle with the phrase “Caution – Nanomaterials.”
  • Use a second means, for example, tape, crimping, or wire, to reduce the risk of that the closure device on the inner container will open during handling and transport
  • Place the sealed inner receptacle into chemically compatible intermediate packaging along with packaging materials believed to be chemically compatible with the nanomaterial and other contents and that provide:
    • Sufficient cushioning to prevent damage to the inner receptacle.
    • Sufficient absorbent to absorb the total liquid content.
  • Seal intermediate packaging with tape, wire, or another suitable means to prevent it from opening during transport.
  • Label the outside of the intermediate packaging to inform persons coming in contact with it:
    • That it contains nanomaterials
    • That precautions should be taken — that people should avoid skin contact, ingestion, and inhalation
    • Whom to contact to get additional information about the material.
  • Place the intermediate packaging in a rigid outer container.

Suggestions for Improving this Section Compare to and reconcile with guidance developed outside the USA. Add references to regulations that apply outside the US and govern international shipments. Add examples of labels. Add hyperlinks to sources of information.

Sources of Information CFR Title 49 Parts 100-181 UN Model Regulations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code