My family has always been made up of people who like to read. It starts with the little ones being read to by others and generally leads to a love of independent reading later in life. I saw the process start with the next generation during the recent United States’ holiday of Thanksgiving. In order to get the 18-month old to settle down for a nap his father read to him. Funny enough, the story was that of Chicken Little. For those that don’t remember the story it is about Chicken Little getting hit on the head by an acorn and thinks the sky is falling. To protect friends and family the character decides to go tell the king. On the way, Chicken Little meets various friends and proceeds to tell each of them that the sky is falling. Hearing the refrain of “the sky is falling” said throughout the telling of the story it got me thinking …
The Sky is… Not Falling?
What if rather than panicking about the event Chicken Little followed proper procedure? When handling hazardous materials there must be plans in place to handle accidents. This includes spills and injuries at your location and more importantly during transport. One such procedure is set in 49 CFR for US ground transportation. In Section 172.604 it states that an emergency response telephone number must be Continue Reading…
Welcome back to the Regulatory Helpdesk where we answer your dangerous goods & hazmat questions. Here are some highlights from our helpdesk last week. Check back weekly, the helpdesk rarely hears the same question twice.
Lithium Battery Special Provision
Q. Why is only a reference to Packing Instruction Section IB required on a lithium battery Shipper’s Declaration – what about shipments made under Section I or IA?
A. Sections I and IA refer to fully regulated shipments so it’s redundant to indicate an authorization unless there’s a special provision deviation involved.
Although Section II shipments don’t require a Shipper’s Declaration document, if an airwaybill is used a notation must be made indicating the Section II status like ‘’Lithium ion batteries in compliance with Section II of PI— CAO’’.
This is particularly true for UN3090 or UN3480 where the document is required to indicate the CAO status.
Shippers also need to verify any listed state or operator variations that may require information over that mandate by IATA DGR.
Determining the Size of the Package
Q. I have a customer who wants a “portable tank” of product instead of our usual smaller sized containers, can I oblige?
Characterize your product,
read the container supplier’s specification,
read the relevant regulation,
read the cited container standard; review 1. & 2. in the context of 3. & 4; decide on any required modifications.
As you may have heard, a major hazmat incident occurred in Niagara Falls, not far from ICC Compliance Center’s location. On a late Monday night in October, a tanker truck carrying nearly 13,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen (UN1966) hit the base of a light pole in the parking lot of a local grocery store as the driver was attempting to turn around. This resulted in a valve on the truck to become damaged and could have caused the highly flammable liquid hydrogen to be released from the truck triggering a very serious situation for nearby residents and businesses. Although the driver received a traffic violation, nobody was physically harmed by the incident. Watching this news story unfold made me think about how this incident could have turned out much differently if hazmat protocol wasn’t followed.
As the tanker truck crashed into the pole, local officials on hand realized the dangers of what was inside the truck because it was properly placarded with a UN1966 placard. Had the truck not been placarded correctly, officials would not have known what was inside the truck and what dangers could come from exposure to the highly flammable liquid hydrogen. As a result, officials were able to respond quickly and evacuated all local businesses and roads leading to the grocery store parking lot the accident took place in. Officials Continue Reading…
The idea of zombies, the undead, and those things that come back from the grave have been around in society as far back as 1932. That was the year Bella Lugosi starred in the movie “White Zombie”. This was followed by other classic horror movies such as “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Serpent and the Rainbow” and “World War Z”. Zombies have even moved into mainstream TV. We now have “iZombie”, “The Walking Dead” and “Z Nation” to name a few. In each of those, zombies are created by a virus, radiation exposure, mutations or even voodoo curses. What makes for good entertainment are the stories of people evading or escaping from them. After all, the main source of food for a zombie is the human brain.
It begs the question then, could you survive a fictional zombie apocalypse?
Once again lithium batteries are in the news. The FAA is proposing a worldwide laptop ban in checked bags on international flights. Tests conducted by the FAA have concluded that when large electronics like laptops overheat in checked luggage, they run the risk of combustion when packed with aerosol canisters like hairspray and dry shampoo. As a result, the potential for explosion becomes a danger to the entire aircraft. The risks are certainly a lot higher if your lithium battery device does in fact catch fire on an airplane, but what exactly is the reason lithium batteries catch fire and what should you do if your device does catch fire during your daily routine?
What is Thermal Runaway?
Previously I wrote a blog on how to prevent lithium batteries from catching fire. But why exactly do lithium batteries catch fire? Lithium-ion and lithium-metal cells are known to undergo a process called thermal runaway during failure conditions. Thermal runaway results in a rapid increase of battery cell temperature and pressure, accompanied by the release of flammable gas. These flammable gases will often be ignited by the battery’s high temperature, resulting in a fire similar to the video below.
Another major reason behind thermal runaway is other microscopic metal particles coming in touch with different parts of the battery, resulting in a short-circuit.
This year has seen environmental disasters that have put millions of people at risk. From the incredible one-two-three punch of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, to the Bangladesh floods, to the recent earthquake in Mexico, we see people facing lack of food, clean water and shelter. All of us need to protect ourselves and our loved ones during these periods when outside help hasn’t arrived. But while we’re watching out for what Mother Nature can throw at us, we must also remember hazardous chemicals and articles, even those that can help us survive, can put us in danger as well.
How to Prepare for Natural Emergencies
What does a typical household need to prepare for natural emergencies (or even man-made ones such as chemical spills that can isolate and endanger communities)? A number of websites list “must haves” and “should haves” for these situations, including:
What are some of the hazards that our own preparations can create?
One of the biggest dangers during emergencies is generators. These internal-combustion power sources can be lifesaving, especially for those with special health needs, and can make life during power outages more bearable. But they function by burning fuel, which can Continue Reading…
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has designated the week of October 8th as Fire Prevention Week. This date was chosen as the Great Chicago fire started on October 8, 1871. Each year a theme for the week is chosen in an effort to keep fire safety present in people’s minds. This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” An explanation of the theme is best explained by a video from Sparky, The Fire Dog.
Here are some statistics from a recent survey conducted by the NFPA. About one in every 338 homes had a fire each year from 2010 to 2014. For most of those years the second leading cause of fires in homes and fire deaths/injuries is heating equipment. In terms of escape planning, only about a third of the US has developed and practiced a home escape plan. Also, many people believe they would have 6 minutes before a home fire could become life threatening when in reality the time is much shorter. The most shocking statistic of all was that only 8% of those surveyed indicated that when hearing a fire alarm their first thought was to leave the home or building. These are numbers we cannot deny and should all consider.
It seems like yesterday I wrote a blog about on Spring Safety, now the time has come to trade the electric trimmer for the rake, the lawnmower for the leaf blower, and the air conditioner for the space heater (hopefully later rather than sooner).
Before we make the full transition from summer mowing to fall cleanup, please keep the following safety tips in mind:
11 Fall Safety Tips
Safely store warm weather tools like lawn mowers and trimmers. Check fall yard tools, such as leaf blowers, along with their power cords, for unusual wear and tear. Repair or replace worn tools or parts right away
Unplug and safely store battery chargers that won’t be in use again until spring
Raking leaves? Prevent back injuries by standing upright while raking and pull from your arms and legs. Don’t overfill leaf bags, and when picking them up, bend at the knee and use your legs, not your back, for support
Use only weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities. Protect outdoor electrical devices from moisture. Make sure electrical equipment that has been wet is inspected and reconditioned by a certified repair dealer
Keep dry leaves swept away from outdoor lighting, outlets, and power cords to prevent them from catching fire
If you use a leaf blower, shield yourself; Wear appropriate clothing, eye protection, and work boots to prevent injury
Recently at a ballroom dance lesson, I heard the song “What a Difference a Day Makes”. A young couple is using it as their wedding song. They were learning a dance using it for the reception. Listen here to the 1959 version by Dinah Washington. Not only did the melody and words stay with me, but so did the title. Keeping in mind how things can change in a day I wanted to follow up on my blog “Extra! Extra! Read all About it: California Proposition 65 List Updated” from April 2016. A bit more than a day later but you get the point.
It turns out the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 or as it is more commonly known Prop 65 was updated seven times since my blog in April. The list has to be revised and republished at least once per year. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is the agency responsible for Prop 65 implementation. They consider adding chemicals to the list when some other “authoritative body” makes a determination regarding a substances ability to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Shown below are all of the new substances that were added by month. They are listed by name, type of toxicity and Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS).
Hurricanes bring about many emotions for me. You see, I have lived through a large number of them with varying impacts on my life. Here are just a few that trigger some strong emotions in me even after more than 15 years. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit. I was in college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. What made it so scary was the fire alarm in the middle of it, which caused an evacuation from my dormitory. The wind and rain were so strong you almost couldn’t stand.
The next one that comes to mind is Bertha in in 1996. Bertha was memorable because we purchased our first home the day she hit. If we had stayed in our new home, we would have lost both of our cars due to a tree falling. The worst though came in 1999. That year brought us Dennis in August and Floyd in September. We survived Dennis with a few heavy rains and some minor damage to the neighborhood. However, Floyd hit just 2 weeks later! Again, there was little damage in our area but lots of rain. We cleaned up and prepared for work the next day. What we weren’t prepared for was the National Guard at our door at 4:00 am that next morning telling us to evacuate due Continue Reading…