What Are Hazardous Materials? What Are Its 9 Classes?
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There were over 20,000 hazardous material incidents in the year 2021 alone. It cost over $40 million to clean up after these incidents, so you must understand what you are dealing with in case it happens to you.

If you are still asking “What are hazardous materials?” then this might be the article for you.

We have listed the nine primary categories of handling hazardous materials. This way, you can learn the classes of different materials and keep everyone under your supervision safe. Read on to learn more.

What Is a Hazardous Material?

The Department of Transportation’s hazardous materials guide defines hazardous materials as:

“any substance or material [that] could adversely affect the safety of the public, handlers or carriers during transportation

This leaves some room for interpretation, so the DoT has also created a list of specific material classes these fall into.

Class 1: Explosive Materials

These are items that might create a sudden buildup of gas pressure. These explosions can project fragments of their container or surroundings. They might also create firebrands or other fire hazards.

Class 2: Gases

This class is divided into three categories:

  • Flammable gases
  • Toxic gases
  • Gases that are not flammable or toxic

Non-flammable and non-toxic gases may still be hazardous. Even oxygen can produce issues because it can cause a flame to burn out of control.

Class 3: Flammable Liquids

These are liquids that give off a vapor that’s flammable. They must have a flash point under 140.9 degrees Fahrenheit to receive the classification of hazardous.

Class 4: Flammable Solids

These exist in three different types:

  • Highly flammable solids
  • Solids that have a propensity to spontaneously combust
  • Substances that emit flammable gas on contact with water

Class 5: Oxidizing Substances and Organic Pesticides

This class has two categories:

  • Substances that react with oxygen
  • Substances that react with organic pesticides

Class 6: Toxic and Infectious Substances

This class has two categories:

  • Poisonous material
  • Material that could cause infection, such as specimens or vaccines

Class 7: Radioactive Materials

Any material is radioactive if it has a specific activity of over 70 kilobecquerels per kilogram. 

There are three categories of radioactive material. Each one indicates a higher level of millirems per hour. It ranges from 0.5 mrems at level I radioactivity to over 200 mrems on the surface and up to 10 mrems at 3.3 feet away at level III.

Class 8: Corrosive Materials

These are substances that can dissolve organic tissue or corrode metal.

Class 9: Miscellaneous

Class 9 exists for any hazardous material that does not meet any of the above categories.

Answering “What Are Hazardous Materials?”

With the above information, you should be able to answer the question, “What are hazardous materials?” There is a lot to know, so you might still have questions; and if that’s the case, KHA is here to answer them.

We have systems available to analyze your safety data sheet needs. This way, you can have records of safety and security for your company moving forward. If you want to know more, let us know today.