Hazardous Materials Shipping FAQs


What dangerous goods shipped from USC require documented training?

Please view the USC Shipping Guidelines for examples of dangerous good shipments and packaging.

What are infectious substances?

Infectious substances are substances that are known or are reasonably expected to contain pathogens. Pathogens are defined as micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungus) and other agents such as prions, which can cause disease in humans or animals. Infectious substances are divided into two groups shown below:

Category A is for infectious substances which when exposure to it occurs is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals.

Category B is for an infectious substance which does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A.

For additional information visit the Biosafety webpage.

What are the requirements for shipping dangerous goods within the United States?

Shipping of dangerous goods is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IATA regulations govern air transport not only in the US, but worldwide as well. Please refer to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website for more information.

What are Commercial Invoices?

Commercial Invoices are generated by the shipper to declare the monetary value of exported goods.  The declared value is used by foreign customs agents to assess monetary duties that need to be paid before the package clears customs.  It is common that a small quantity of research material sent to foreign colleague has a negligible monetary value.

What is “De minimis exception”?

Under 40 CFR 261.3 (a)(2)(iv)(A-G) of the hazardous wastes regulations, you can discharge very small quantities of certain types of listed hazardous waste into a wastewater treatment system that is permitted under the Clean Water Act. This is known as the de minimus wastewater exemption. There are concentration limits associated with these exemptions and can be viewed under the 40 CFR 261.3 (a)(2)(iv)(A-G).

What are “Excepted Quantities”?

An excepted quantity applies to shipments within the United States of Packaging Group II and III materials in Class 3, Division 4.1, Division 4.2, Division 4.3, Division 5.1, Division 6.1, Class 8, and Class 9, for inner packaging maximum quantities of 1 mL or 1 g, and maximum outer packaging with maximum quantities of 100 mL or 100 g.  Pack items using the drop and compression tested triple-pack.  No hazard labels, markings, declarations are required.  For air transport, the material must be approved for passenger-carrying aircraft (see Column 9A of DOT Hazardous Materials Table), and de minimis quantities cannot be carried in checked or carry-on baggage.  The shipping company must accept packages under DOT regulations.

How do I ship radioactive materials?

The Department of Transportation regulates the shipments while they are in transit, and sets standards for labeling and smaller quantity packages. See Title 49, Transportation, of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.  In addition, the NRC oversees the safety of the transportation of nuclear materials through a combination of regulatory requirements, transportation package certification, inspections, and a system of monitoring to ensure that safety requirements are being met. Review NRC’s Transportation of Radioactive Materials Guidebook for additional information on transportation requirements for radioactive materials.

NOTE: All transfers of radioactive materials (RAM) between USC principal investigators and/or shipments to domestic and international destinations must be processed by Radiation Safety. Visit the  Transfer/Transport of Radioactive Materials (RAM) web page for more information.

Who can I call for assistance with shipping hazardous materials?

If you have questions about shipping hazardous materials, please contact the Hazmat Team.