ask the expert series

what are dangerous goods

It’s important to know what a dangerous good is before you ship. According to IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) Manual, “Dangerous goods (also known as hazardous materials or hazmat) are articles or substances which are capable of posing a hazard to health, safety, property or the environment and which are shown in the list of dangerous goods in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations or which are classified according to those Regulations.” Because IATA participates in a strict regulatory process, dangerous goods can be transported by air safely and securely when these guidelines are closely followed.  

What Are Examples of Dangerous Goods 

Most transport of dangerous goods is handled by shippers who are knowledgeable in the area of shipping hazmat. For many travelers, however, it is unknown what types of things are considered dangerous goods. Some examples of  dangerous goods are aerosols, lithium batteries, infectious substances, fireworks, dry-ice, gasoline powered engines and machinery, lighters, and paint. 

Top 3 Dangerous Goods Transported Each Year

Out of the over 1.25 million packages of hazmat shipped each year, three types of dangerous goods stand out. These are items that are most commonly shipped, being flammable liquids, dry-ice, and lithium batteries. Dry ice is widely used as a refrigerant for goods such as frozen foods and pharmaceuticals, including vaccines. 

Shipping & Handling

Safely transporting hazardous material by air begins with proper shipping and handling. Shippers must follow the dangerous goods regulations strictly as this starts the safety protocol for the transport of dangerous goods by air. 

 Shippers And Operators Responsibilities

Proper safety for the transport of hazardous material begins with shippers and ends with the operators. The shippers have specific responsibilities that must be closely adhered to for their goods to be accepted by the airlines. They are responsible for every aspect of the packaging of their dangerous goods as well as explicitly following these guidelines: (Sec 5)

  • Comply with specific packaging requirements
  • Correctly assemble and secure packaging according to instructions
  • Adhere to the proper quantity per package
  • Ensure packaging exterior does not contain any contaminants
  • Remove any previous marking of container that no longer apply
  • Properly label each package
  • Fill out Shipper's Declaration for Dangerous Goods correctly along with Air Waybill
The operators will ensure that the shippers meet all guidelines and process each package against the Dangerous Goods Checklist to prepare it for storage or loading. 
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