Next Time You Ship a Package, Remember to Check the Box

Each year, about 1,100 hazmat incidents result from the shipment of undeclared hazardous materials. More often than not, these hazardous materials go undeclared simply because of a lack of awareness or understanding on the part of the shipper or their customers. 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the U.S. agency charged with ensuring the safe transport of hazardous materials to protect people and the environment. ALPA has been working with PHMSA Administrator Howard “Skip” Elliott on this critical air safety issue. 

This year, at ALPA’s annual Air Safety Forum, our efforts to curtail the transportation of undeclared hazardous materials by air got a major boost when Administrator Elliott announced the “Check the Box” campaign. This initiative is designed to educate the public and industry on how some items, such as batteries and other common household goods, pose hidden dangers if handled improperly. 

The Check the Box website includes checklists, FAQs, and other resources to help shippers determine if their packages includes hazardous materials. 

What constitutes a hazardous material? You must declare that a package is hazardous if it contains any of the following items:

  • Explosives (including fireworks, pyrotechnics, flares, guns, and ammunition),
  • Gases (including fire extinguishers, lighters, compressed air, and hairspray),
  • Flammable liquids (including paint, gasoline, kerosene, nail polish, and perfume),
  • Flammable solids (including matches),
  • Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides (including fertilizer compounds and ammonium nitrate fertilizers),
  • Toxic and infectious substances (including medical waste and chloroform),
  • Radioactive materials (including enhanced uranium),
  • Corrosives (including batteries, battery fluid, and paint), and/or
  • Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles (including dry ice, lithium batteries, and magnets).

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