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Hazardous Materials

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Hazardous materials are articles or substances which are capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, property or the environment when transported by commercial carriers. Hazardous materials include hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, and materials which meet the criteria of one or more of nine United Nations (UN) hazard classes. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) indicates whether the material is hazardous and provides the UN hazard classification.

Hazard classes are as follows:

Class 1 Explosives
Class 2 Gases
Class 3 Flammable Liquids
Class 4 Flammable Solids; Substances liable to spontaneous combustion;
substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
Class 5 Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides
Class 6 Toxic and infectious substances
Class 7 Radioactive materials
Class 8 Corrosives
Class 9 Miscellaneous dangerous goods
1. Examples of dangerous goods shipped from UC Irvine that requires documented training:
  • Dry ice is assigned UN hazard Class 9.
  • When minimal likelihood that pathogens are present, patient and animal samples and cell lines are not assigned to a UN hazard class; however, they still must be packaged and labeled as "Exempt human or animal specimens" by a trained person.
  • Non-infectious genetically modified microorganisms (GMMOs) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which are capable of altering animals, plants, or microbiological substances in a way which is not normally the result of reproduction are assigned to UN hazard Class 9. Infectious GMMO/GMO's are assigned to UN hazard Class 6.2.
  • Atmospheric gases in compressed gas cylinders are assigned to Class 2.
  • Formalin or gluteraldehyde (<10% solution) preserved specimens are not regulated. Minimize amounts per inner packaging, and use triple-pack to ship safely.
  • Magnetized material > 0.002 gauss @ 7 feet is assigned to Class 9.
  • Many types of batteries (lithium; sodium; potassium hydroxide; wet-filled with acid or alkali fluid) and battery-containing equipment/vehicles are considered dangerous goods usually assigned to Class 9.
  • Hazardous residues in machinery returned for repair is Class 9.
  • All radioactive materials (Class 7) must be shipped by EH&S.
2. What are infectious substances?

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

Category A is for an infectious substance which is transported in a form that, 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.

3. When are genetically modified organisms/micro-organisms (GMO/GMMO) considered hazardous materials?

The researcher must complete a hazard determination based on the GMO/GMMO's ability to pose unreasonable risk to health, safety, property or the environment, if released accidentally from packaging. If infectious, the organism is shipped as Infectious Substance Class 6.2 Category A or Category B. If the organism is not infectious, the GMO/GMMO is shipped using Triple-Pack procedures for Miscellaneous Class 9. Follow the GMO/GMMO shipping procedures located on the Hazardous Materials Shipping webpage. GMO/GMMO cannot be shipped as Excepted Quantities or Exempt. An example of shipping a non-hazardous GMMO is the non-pathogenic modified e.Coli commonly used in recombinant DNA research.

4. What are Exempt Human and Animal Specimens?

Humans, lab rats, and mice specimens with minimal likelihood that pathogens are present are exempt. Minimal likelihood that pathogens are present is determined by the shipper's professional judgment using the following basis: known medical history; symptoms and individual circumstances of the source, human or animal; endemic local conditions. If exempt, use Triple Pack to ship.

5. What are the requirements for shipping dangerous goods to a foreign country?
  1. Proper packaging, labeling, and completion of dangerous goods paperwork; visit
  2. For export licensing review, go to: and complete the "Request a Review of Shipments (doc)". For instructions on performing an "Export Control Review before an International Shipment" click here.
  3. Commercial Invoice for the foreign customs agent. Please visit the Distribution and Document Management website.
  4. If shipping research materials are developed by UC Irvine researchers including biological materials, a Materials Transfer Agreement is needed. Visit for more information.
  5. Obtain country specific importation permits. The receiver of the package is in the best position to obtain these when needed, or a freight-forwarder or customs-broker knowledgeable in the destination country. Examples of when permits may be needed are when shipping Class 6.2 Infectious Substances, live animals (contact ULAR), or Select Agents.
6. What are the requirements for shipping dangerous goods within the United States?
7. 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. When you use e-Ship to generate your airway bill to an international destination, the Commercial Invoice is generated and is included in the documentation sent with the package. It is common that a small quantity of research material sent to foreign colleague has neglible monetary value.

8. What is a Shipper's Declaration of Dangerous Goods?

A Shipper's Declaration or "Shipper's Dec" is a document completed and signed by a certified trained shipper. It is a declaration by the shipper that the hazardous material has been packaged according to regulations. It must be printed in color and has a red hash mark border. Regulations require that the form is completed in triplicate and the three copies accompany the package during transportation. Note: FedEx requires four copies. A copy of each Shipper's Declaration must be maintained by the shipper for 24 months. Any packages requiring a Shipper's Declaration must be coordinated through EH&S or Physical Sciences Shipping & Receiving--if in that school--in order to have copies of Shipper's Declarations available for DOT and FAA inspectors. Shippers must use FedEx Ship Manager Software to generate the shipper Declaration.

9. What is "De minimis exception"?

De minimis exception 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 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, and de minimis quantities cannot be carried in checked or carry-on baggage. The shipping company must accept packages under DOT regulations.

10. What are "excepted quantities"?

Excepted quantities are small quantities of hazardous materials ranging from 1 mL (g) to 30 mL (g) depending on the materials hazard level. You need to know how to use the material's E-code, triple-pack, and special package markings, so you need to pass function-specific training for certification to ship excepted quantities.

11. What is triple-pack?

Triple-pack is tested packaging suitable for shipping de minimus, excepted, and limited quantity hazardous materials. The 1st layer in the triple-pack is the primary sample container known as the inner packaging. It must be leak proof and chemically compatible with the material, and its closure held securely in place with tape or other positive means. Cushion multiple inner packaging from touching each other and place them inside the intermediate packaging (the 2nd layer) like sealable leak proof plastic bag or canister with enough absorbent materials to completely absorb the entire contents of the inner packages. Place the sealed plastic bag in a sturdy, damage-free outer cardboard box, aka the outer packaging (the 3rd layer). Use crumpled paper or other space filler to fill voids between the intermediate packaging and outer packaging to block the intermediate package from moving around. The triple-pack has been compressive load and drop-tested from 7 feet to withstand the normal conditions and stresses of transport.

12. How do I ship radioactive materials?

EH&S handles all radioactive materials shipments. Contact EH&S at (949) 824-6200 and ask for a Radioactive Materials Shipping Specialist.

13. Who can I call for assistance with shipping hazardous materials?
  • Physical Sciences, call PS Stores (949) 824-5889 for the Hazardous Materials Shipping Specialist.
  • All others call (949) 824-6200, for referral to a Hazardous Materials Shipping Specialist.
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