A question we are often asked at ICC Compliance Center is “how small does a dangerous goods shipment have to be to not be regulated?” Not just limited quantity, not just excepted quantity – totally not regulated. Common sense tells us that, at a certain level, tiny amounts of dangerous goods do not pose a hazard during transport. Unfortunately, until recently, this question was not really addressed directly, other than by using other small quantity provisions, such as limited quantities.
However, the UN Subcommittee on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods has been working on this issue, and the question has started to be answered by various regulations based on the UN Recommendations. For example, starting in 2013, shippers by air who use the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (TIs), and the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), will be able to ship very small amounts of dangerous goods as non-regulated under the so-called “de minimis” provisions.
The 54th Edition (2013) of the DGR has a new section, 2.6.10, which establishes the procedures for shipping as a de minimis quantity. The procedure is as follows:
- Look up the goods being shipped on the List of Dangerous Goods (Table 4.2), and check the Excepted Quantity code given in column F. If the code is E1, E2, E4 or E5, the goods can be shipped as de minimis, if they meet the following requirements. (If the code is E0 or E3, unfortunately, de minimis is not an option.)
- Package the goods as you would excepted quantities, using the instructions in DGR section 2.6.5. Note that, despite this section, intermediate packaging (such as a leakproof bag) is not required if the inner packagings are securely packed in an outer packaging with cushioning material, in such a way that they could not:
- be punctured, or
- leak their contents
under normal conditions of transport. Also, if they are liquids, there must be enough absorbent material to absorb the entire contents of the inner packagings.
- The quantity limits for a de minimis package are:
- For inner packagings, not more than 1 mL for liquids and gases, or 1 grams for solids, and
- For outer packaging, not more than 100 mL for liquids and gases, and 100 grams for solids.
- Finally, review the package testing requirements given in section 2.6.6. Although the package does not have to be UN-specification tested, this section says that the package must be capable of withstanding, “as demonstrated by testing which is appropriated documented,” a drop test and a 24-hour stacking test. These are simple tests that can be done in-house; however, as the section says, they should be documented. Notes of the test, and digital photographs, if possible, should be kept on file regarding the packaging.
Once you have met these requirements, the DGR says that the de minimis package will be “not subject to these Regulations”. So, other requirements, such as dangerous goods shipping papers, or package markings, will not apply.
Do remember that this section is new to the 54th edition of the IATA DGR. Until January 1, 2013, these provisions may not be used.
If you have questions about using de minimis quantities, please contact ICC The Compliance Center Inc. at 1-888-977-4834 (Canada) or 1-888-442-9628 (USA).