USPS Regulations and Updates
USPS Simplifies Mailing Ethanol-Based Products by Air

Cargo loading on aircraft

Consumer Products

It seemed such a simple task at the time. A company decided to expand their consumer product line to include perfumes. They expected to send orders to customers, as they did their other products, by airmail. Yet, when setting up the shipment, an unexpected roadblock appeared. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) told them that the perfume was a hazardous material.

How can a common consumer product like perfume be hazardous for transportation? Most perfumes have an alcohol base, designed to evaporate quickly leaving the scent behind. Unfortunately, this means that such perfumes are flammable liquids for transportation and are subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as USPS restrictions for both ground and air transport.

So, the decision to go into perfumes created some major headaches for the company. But they recently got some good news. If the perfume is based on ethanol, one of the most common alcohols, the company will get a break – USPS has reduced the requirements for this one solvent. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, can be found in many consumer products, ranging from perfumes to hairspray to bath oil. By reducing the requirements for shipment of these products, shippers will enjoy reduced costs and complexity.

Airmailing Hazardous Materials

If you wish to airmail hazardous materials in the United States, your first step should be to consult USPS Publication 52 – Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail. Continue Reading…

Changes to Special Permit 9275 Affect US Ethanol Shippers

The US organization COSTHA (Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles) is petitioning the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) regarding changes to a Department of Transport (DOT) special permit widely used by industry. These changes may add requirements to US shippers of small packages containing ethanol.

The permit in question, DOT-SP 9275, exempts the transportation in of small packages of liquids and solids containing ethanol from the provisions the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of 49 CFR. In effect, if certain packaging safety considerations are met, the package may be transported by ground with no labels or other hazard communication, such as shipping papers.

In the latest consideration of this special permit, PHMSA has proposed that the packages should, at a minimum, be marked with the name of the company responsible for the shipment, and the words “Contains Ethyl Alcohol, exempted quantity”. In their letter of petition dated June 14, 2011, COSTHA has submitted to the DOT that these markings will increase the cost of preparing packages, and that there is no justification from studies of such shipments to indicate that safety will be improved by including these markings. Shippers using this special permit include many companies in the cosmetics, food and pharmaceutical industries.

Note that this special permit only applies to shippers within the United States, so should not have a significant effect on Canadian shippers of small Continue Reading…

Gasoline mixtures

Transport Canada has posted a Bulletin to their website on ethanol and gasoline mixtures.

For shippers, the classifications to be used are as follows:

  • for mixtures up to 10% ethanol (E10): gasoline, UN1203
  • more than 10% but less than 100% (> E10 < E100); ethanol and gasoline mixture, UN3475
  • 100% ethanol (E100): ethanol or ethyl alcohol, UN1170

Ethanol and gasoline mixtures must not be classified as:

  • UN1987, ALCOLHOLS, N.O.S.,
  • UN1993, FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS, N.O.S, or
  • NA1987, DENATURED ALCOHOL

For emergency responders, the different blends mean different responses in the event of fire. For mixtures up to E10 (UN1203), emergency responders can use the aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) that is usually used to combat gasoline fires.

However, for mixtures in excess of E10 (UN3475 and UN1170), the use of AFFF is virtually useless as these mixtures are polar/water-miscible flammable liquids that degrade the AFFF. Emergency responders should be using AF-AFFF (alcohol resistant, aqueous film-forming foam).

View the complete Bulletin on Transport Canada’s website.