Regulatory Oversight

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has established regulations for transport within the United States of hazardous materials by rail, air, vessel (ships), and motor carrier (ground). The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has established guidelines exclusively for the transport of dangerous goods by air, both domestically and internationally. The DOT term "Hazardous Material" and IATA term "Dangerous Good" are interchangeable.

Failure to comply with these regulations may result in individual fines of up to $250,000 and a maximum of one year in jail. Organizations could be fined up to $500,000 per incident. Several agencies regulate the shipment of hazardous materials including:

  • US Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • International Air Transport Association (IATA)
  • US Public Health Services (PHS)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
  • United States Postal Services (USPS)

The intent of the packaging and transportation regulations is to prevent personnel who handle the shipment from being exposed to the hazardous material. It is the responsibility of the person who initiates the shipment of a material to determine (or seek assistance to determine) if the material meets the definition of a hazardous material. If you wish to ship hazardous materials or you are not sure if your material is regulated, contact the DRS at 217-333-2755.

Definition of a Hazardous Material

A hazardous material is defined as a substance or material that has been determined by the DOT title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) or IATA Dangerous Goods Manual to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when in transport. Materials that are hazardous to the environment (i.e., hazardous substance, hazardous wastes, and marine pollutants) are also regulated. Hazardous materials include but are not limited to:

Classification and Divisions

Hazardous materials are divided into nine classes; some classes are separated into smaller divisions. Certain material may not be transported; for other materials, restrictions apply on the type of transport that may be used. The table below describes the classes and divisions.

Class or Division No.

Name of Class or Division and Examples

1.1 to 1.6


2.1 to 2.3

Compressed gases (including liquefied gases)


Flammable (and combustible) liquids (e.g., alcohols, solvents, lubricants, paints)

4.1 to 4.3

Solids that are flammable, spontaneously combustible, or dangerous when wet (i.e., lithium alkyds, naphthalene, phosphorus, calcium hydride, sodium).

5.1 and 5.2

Oxidizers and organic peroxides (e.g., bromates, chlorates, permanganates., hydrogen peroxide (>8%), benzoyl peroxide)


Poisonous/toxic (e.g., some pesticides, barium compounds, phenol, chloroform, and some biotoxins)


Infectious substances (e.g., cultures and stocks; patient specimens; biological products; regulated medical waste; and toxins derived from animals, plants, or bacteria that contains or might contain an infectious substance)




Corrosives (e.g., acids or bases that can cause severe damage when in contact with skin)


Miscellaneous hazardous materials (e.g., asbestos, dry ice, polychlorinated biphenyls, genetically modified organisms)


Forbidden materials (e.g. explosives by air)

Training and Certification Requirements

At a minimum, anyone whose job duties include shipping any material or are in contact with hazardous materials should receive the Awareness Training for the Transport of Hazardous Materials. Awareness training shall be repeated every two years. 

Individuals involved in packaging, labeling, or documentation of a hazardous material offered for transport shall receive additional training that meets DOT or IATA requirements before shipping such materials.Comprehensive training courses are available that will certify individuals to ship all hazardous materials. In certain situations, function-specific training that reviews packaging, labeling, and documentation requirements for specific materials such as small quantities of chemicals, biological material, or radiological materials may be taken instead of a comprehensive training.

Last Updated: 1/23/2017