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KMR Blog: The classification of HAZMAT materials

The classification of HAZMAT materials

Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) are some of the most complicated, regulated, and expensive products to ship. Understanding what items are considered HAZMAT for shipping is crucial for ensuring compliance with applicable laws and maintaining the safety of couriers and handlers. When shipping hazardous materials, it is crucial to prepare the appropriate documentation and ensure that carriers have the required placards for safe transportation.

The 9 classes of hazardous materials are:


These are the materials that are likely to explode under certain conditions. Ex: ammunition, gun powder, fireworks, airbag inflators, and seat belt tensioners.


These materials are dangerous when inhaled, when they contact a surface, or when exposed to flame. Ex: aerosols, propane tanks, lighters, self-inflating rafts, and fire extinguishers.

Flammable & Combustible Liquids:

This class refers to liquids that will ignite when contacting fire. Ex: gasoline, nail polish, oil-based paints, varnish, and paint thinner.

Flammable & Combustible Solids:

Solid products that will ignite when encountering fire, fall into this class. Ex: matches, sulfur, potassium, sodium, sodium batteries, and coal.

Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides:

These materials are chemicals that produce oxygen during reactions, causing or enhancing combustion. Ex: ammonium nitrate fertilizers, chlorine, sodium nitrate, and hydrogen peroxide.

Poisonous, Toxic, and Infectious Substances:

The contents of this class refer to materials that can cause harm, serious injury, or death if inhaled or swallowed. When speaking of infectious substances, these are materials that are known to carry pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Class 6 materials include biomedical waste (blood samples, needles), arsenic, pesticides, and nicotine.

Radioactive Materials:

Materials are classified as radioactive if they spontaneously give off ionizing radiation greater than 0.002 microcuries per gram. Ex: medical isotopes, x-ray machines, and depleted uranium.


Corrosives are liquids or solids that can visibly damage or deteriorate to human skin, steel, or aluminum. Class 8 products include sulfuric acid, drain cleaner, paint stripper, mercury thermometers, and hydrochloric acid.


Products in this class present a potential hazard during transport, but do not meet the requirements of another classification. This includes dry ice, lithium-ion batteries, vehicles, and first-aid kits.

Sources – 2.

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