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Is it Dangerous?

The question comes up -- or should -- in many circumstances:

  • Reformulation of a product.
  • Change in packaging or container for storage, transport or sale of materials.
  • A waste material of complex or unknown origins

The question might be asked to

  • Satisfy internal health and safety concerns.
  • Comply with the complex regulations for transportation, environmental, health and safety issues at the state, national or international level.
  • Reduce the cost but maintain safety of storage, transportation and packaging.

Yes, if you don't know!

The risk to life and limb from even apparently benign or inert materials and articles is significant. Ignorance of the hazards or the regulations governing them is no defense against civil litigation or regulatory sanctions. Stresau Laboratory helps you manage these risks by

  • Defining the specific situations in which your material may undergo a violent reaction.
  • Measuring the degree and extent of danger the reaction poses.
  • Providing regulatory compliant solutions for the threat.

Stresau Laboratory works with manufactures, package designers and other testing laboratories to answer these questions with a responsible, cost-effective protocol. It starts with what the customer knows about the material, article or waste. That information is validated and, if need be, additional testing completes the picture of the hazard and the proper management of that hazard. This management includes proper packaging, labels, storage, transport and handling.

A few examples:

A disinfectant sold as a consumer product will be sold in larger containers for commercial applications. Do these larger containers pose a greater threat or face increased storage and transportation regulation? Increases in mass increase some reactive hazards, a fact recognized in the greater regulation of larger containers. Depending on the percentage of volatiles in the mix the flash point might be recommended to determine its classification as a Flammable Liquid.

A sealing compound is a flammable liquid. Full functionality of the material is retained when the density is increased to a nearly solid material. If the material is a solid it may no longer be a flammable thus saving shipping, packaging and storage costs. A solid/liquid test could make the first determination and the Burn Rate the second.

A minor car accident at an agriculture supply depot has spilled 20 gallons of diesel fuel in the dirt where bulk anhydrous fertilizer has been handled for 20 years. Is there a risk of explosion in the ground itself? A Stresau supplied shipping container allows an over-night sample and expedited test series for sensitivity to impact, friction and electrostatic discharge in support of the clean-up contractor. For more extensive real-time support, Stresau will mobilize for on-site determinations.

Stresau Laboratory is the source for analysis of potentially reactive materials: explosives, flammables, oxidizers, corrosives. Stresau Laboratory does not perform testing for radioactive (Class 7) or Toxic and Infectious (Class 6) hazards but works with laboratories that do to provide a complete hazard characterization of a substance when needed. Stresau Laboratory often provides sub-contract support to packaging and materials testing organizations because, like our end-user customer, they need Stresau's expertise in the analysis of the particular hazards of explosive, reactive or flammable materials. Hazardous waste clean-up contractors have used Stresau Laboratory HMT on-site to characterize the reactive hazards real-time as needed. Analytical chemistry laboratories call on Stresau to assess reactive hazards of samples before exposing laboratory personnel and delicate analytical equipment to reactive hazards.

Self-Test for further web site use:

Disclaimer and Caution

This information is offered as a starting point to understand the hazards that abound when material is mishandled, improperly stored, transported or packaged. It is intended to help users decide which tests are needed to reach full compliance and safety for their materials, articles or wastes.

The information provided on these pages summarizes regulations and technical standards. Stresau Laboratory has attempted accuracy and timeliness of this information but guarantees neither. It is not liable for the consequences of those who ignore this disclaimer and caution. There is no substitute for the actual regulations (see Bibliography) and expert consultation (see Services).

Self-Test for web site use.

To test your understanding of this concept, please take the following self-test:

1. You have watched Titanic five times. This means you

  1. buy facial tissues in bulk or are jaded to pain and suffering
  2. are qualified as captain of an ocean-going ship with thousands of lives depending on your experience and judgment.

2. You have purchased Microsoft Encarta and read every screen. This means you

  1. are determined in the pursuit of knowledge
  2. are equal to a Ph.D. in at least twenty disciplines, including brain surgery

3. After reading some or all of Stresau Laboratory's web page. You

  1. are not an expert but have been informed there are many hazardous materials for which a variety of expert assistance is available and necessary for safe storage, handling, transport, use and disposal.
  2. can handle any hazardous material you encounter in complete confidence and safety.



You answered "a" in each case. You understand that we are dealing with actual and significant hazards and you or your consultants need actual training and experience to work with hazardous materials. Please proceed into the web site with the additional understanding that Stresau Laboratory has attempted to provide accurate and useful information but is not responsible for errors in that information or any consequences of those relying on it.

You answered "b" in one of the above scenarios. You are a danger to yourself and others. Seriously, please read the disclaimer and caution again and understand the limitations of this unofficial information. Reading it is no substitute for the full text of relevant regulations, real training and experience. Without these you are a serious risk to yourself and others. Stresau Laboratory is not responsible for your actions and their consequences. Try the test again if you wish to enter the web site.


Hmt-exps.gif (5552 bytes) Class 1 - Explosive


Division 1.1 Substances and articles with mass explosion hazard

Division 1.2 Substances and articles with projection but not mass explosion hazard

Division 1.3 Substances and articles with a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or a minor projection hazard or both, but not a mass explosion hazard

Division 1.4 Substances and articles with no significant hazard

Division 1.5 Very insensitive substances which have a mass explosion hazard

Division 1.6 Extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosion hazard.

Test Series 1: Is it explosive?

a: Sensitivity to shock

UN Gap Test (1.a) measures the ability of a substance, under confinement in a steel tube, to propagate a detonation by subjecting it to the detonation of a booster charge.

b: Heating under confinement

Koenen Test (1.b) determines the sensitiveness of solid and liquid to the effect of intense heat under confinement.

c: Ignition under confinement

Time/pressure Test (1.c(i)) determines the effects of igniting the substance under confinement in order to determine if ignition leads to a deflagration with explosive violence at pressures which can be attained with substances in normal commercial packages.


Internal ignition Test (1.c(ii)) determines the tendency of a substance to undergo transition from deflagration to detonation.

Test Series 2: Too insensitive for Class 1?

a: Sensitivity to shock

UN Gap Test (2.a) measures the ability of a substance, under confinement in a steel tube, to propagate a detonation by subjecting it to the detonation of a booster charge.

b: Heating under confinement

Koenen Test (2.b) determines the sensitiveness of solid and liquid to the effect of intense heat under confinement.

c: Ignition under confinement

Time/pressure Test ((2.c(i)) determines the effects of igniting the substance under confinement to determine if ignition leads to a deflagration with explosive violence at pressures which can be attained with the substance in normal commercial packages.

Test Series 3: Thermally stable?

a: sensitiveness to impact

b: sensitiveness to friction

c: thermal stability

d: response to fire


Test Series 4: Is the article or packaged article or substance too dangerous for transport?

a: thermal stability

b: danger from drop


Test Series 5: Is it a very sensitive explosive with a mass explosion hazard?

a: sensitivity to intense mechanical stimulus

b: tendency to transition from deflagration to detonation

c: tendency, when in large quantities, to explode when subjected to large fire


Test Series 6: Should product be assigned to Compatibility Group S of Division 1.4; excluded from Class 1?

a: test single package for mass explosion

b: tendency of an explosion propagating from one package/article to another

c: hazard from projections, heat or violent burning when involved in a fire.


Test Series 7: Is it an extremely insensitive explosive article?

a: shock test: mechanical

b: shock test: booster under confinement

c: sensitivity to impact

d: reaction of explosive substance to impact or penetration

e: reaction to external fire under confinement

f: reaction of explosive substance heated to 365C

g: reaction to external fire as presented for transport

h: reaction of article heated to 365C

j: reaction of article to impact or penetration

k: tendency of detonation of a single article to detonate an adjacent article



Class 2 - Gases


Division 2.1 Flammable gases

Division 2.2 Non-Flammable, non-toxic gases

Division 2.3 Toxic gases


Class 3 - Flammable Liquids

Packaging Groups

Packing Group Flash Point Boiling Point


-- <35C


<23C >35C


>23C,<60.5C >35C


In addition to flash point and boiling point determinations packaging groups assignment is based on viscosity, packaging size, toxic or corrosive characteristics and content of specific materials.

Hazard classification of Flammable Liquids also relies on Test Series N tests, listed under Class 4-Flammable Solids.


Class 4 - Flammable Solids

Substances liable to spontaneous combustion; substances which, on contact with water, emit flammable gases.


Division 4.1 Flammable solids, self-reactive and related substances and desensitized explosives.

Division 4.2 Substances liable to spontaneous combustion

Division 4.3 Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases

Test Series N.1: Is it a readily combustible solid?

A Preliminary Screening test can be conducted on materials thought not to be readily combustible and thus not a candidate for 4.1. Positive results, or an anticipated positive result, indicates a Burn test for placement in the proper packaging group of Division 4.1.

Test Series N.2: Is it a pyrophoric solid?

The ability of a solid to ignite on contact with air is tested by exposure to air under controlled circumstances and determining the time to ignition.

Test Series N.3: Is it a pyrophoric liquid?

The ability of a liquid, when exposed to air, to ignite a reference material on contact with air.

Test Series N.4: Is it a self-heating substance?

The ability of a substance to undergo oxidative self-heating is determined by exposure to air at temperatures of 100C, 120 or 140C 2C in a 25 mm or 100mm wire mesh cube.

Test Series N.5: When in contact with water does it emit flammable gas?

The ability of a substance to emit flammable gases on contact with water is tested by bringing it into contact with water under a variety of conditions.


Class 5 - Oxidizers & Organic Peroxide

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Division 5.1 Oxidizing substances. Substances which, while in themselves not necessarily combustible, may, generally by yielding oxygen, cause, or contribute to, the combustion of other material. Such substances may be contained in an article. Classification in this division is also determined through the Test Series O tests listed under Class 5-Oxidizer Test Series.

Division 5.2 Organic Peroxides. Organic substances which contain the bivalent -0-0- structure and my be considered derivatives of hydrogen peroxide, where one or both of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals. Organic peroxides may be thermally unstable substances, which may undergo exothermic self-accelerating decomposition. In addition, they may have one or more of the following properties: liable to explosive decomposition; burn rapidly; be sensitive to impact or friction; react dangerously with other substances; cause damage to the eyes.

Test Series A: Does it propagate a detonation?

A.1: BAM 50/60 steel tube test

A.2: TNO 50/70 steel tube test

A.5: UN gap test

A.6: UN detonation test


Test Series B: Can it detonate as packaged for transport?

This test is required for substances testing positive to Test A.

B.1: Detonation test in package


Test Series C: Does it propagate a deflagration?

C.1: Time/Pressure test

C.2: Deflagration test


Test Series D: Does it deflagrate rapidly in package?

D.1: Deflagration test in package.


Test Series E: What is the effect of heating under confinement?

E.1 Koenen test

E.2 Dutch pressure vessel test

E.3 USA pressure vessel test


Test Series F: What is its explosive power?

F.1 Ballistic mortar test Mk. IIId test

F.2 Ballistic mortar test

F.3 BAM Trauzl test

F.4 Modified Trauzl test

F.5 High-pressure autoclave


Test Series G: Can it explode as packaged for transport?

G.1 Thermal explosion test in package

G.2 Accelerating decomposition test in package


Test Series H: At what temperature does self-accelerating decomposition occur?

H.1 United States SADT test

H.2 Adiabatic storage test

H.3 Isothermal storage test

H.4 Heat accumulation storage test


Class 6 - Toxic & Infectious


Division 6.1: Toxic substance are liable either to cause death or serious injury or to harm human health if swallowed, inhaled or in contact with skin.

Division 6.2 are known or reasonably expected to contain pathogens.



Oral toxicity

LD50 (mg/kg)

Dermal toxicity

LD50 (mg/kg)

Inhalation toxicity

LD50 (mg/kg)

I <5 <40 <0.5
II >5-50 >40200 >0.5-2
III* Solids: >50-200

Liquids: >50-500

Solids: >200-1000 >2-10


* Tear gas substances shall be included in Packing Group II even if their toxicity data correspond to Packing Group III values


Class 7 - Radioactive


Radioactive material includes any material containing radionuclides where both the activity concentration and the total activity in the consignment exceed the values specified in paragraphs 401-406 of the Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, (1996 Edition) IAEA Safety Standards Series No. ST-1.

Tests & Determinations:


Class 8 - Corrosive

Packing Groups

Packing Group I: Very dangerous substances and preparations

Packing Group II: Substances and preparations presenting medium danger

Packing Group III: Substances and preparations presenting minor danger

Tests & Determinations

Corrosivity is typically tested per ASTM standards against steel and aluminum to determine proper packaging materials and potential incompatibilities. The corrosive effect on skin is the primary determinant of the Packing Group assignment. Dermal testing is conducted per OECD guidelines and Invitro testing per DOT directions. The Corrositex system is used which does not cause injury or death to laboratory test animals.


Class 9 - Miscellaneous


Miscellaneous substances and articles are those which during transport present a danger not covered by other classes. This class includes, inter alia, substances that are transported or offered for transport at temperatures equal to or exceeding 100C in a liquid state or 240C in a solid state.


Related Test Services

Explosive Certification and Product Analysis

The certification of most explosives for which there is a military specification (Mil-Spec) can be conducted by Stresau Laboratory. Stresau Laboratory can perform nitrogen content analysis by either the Nitrometer method or elemental analysis. Additional product certification or analysis services include particle size and purity analysis and examination for contamination.

Stresau Laboratory Development and Test is THE fuze explosive train specialist for safety and reliability evaluation of explosive components and assemblies.



Stresau Laboratory HMT Services

Hazardous Materials Testing: Stresau Laboratory offers the full range of tests and expertise to properly classify materials with a reactive hazard, to determine and/or test proper packaging for such hazardous materials.

Initiation Phenomenon and Fuze Analysis Stresau Laboratory's research and development capability is available to test and certify explosive materials and devices for military and commercial applications.

Transport of Samples: The explosive threat in many items is so obvious -- or in some cases so unknown -- high sensitivity and hazardous output must be assumed. Stresau Laboratory's DOT approved containers can carry 25 grams of sample in safety for common carrier, economical transport. Stresau will travel to customer sites to pickup samples.

Field Services: Hazardous Materials Testing can mobilize to test at the customer site. Stresau's support at hazardous waste sites is a cost-effective method for clean-up crews to know the reactive hazards of wastes as the materials are discovered.


Terms and Arrangements

Samples remain the customer's property and will be returned at the conclusion of testing. Transportation of samples and empty containers to and from Stresau Laboratory are the customer's responsibility. Stresau reserves the right to reject testing or, in agreement with customer, modify testing due to health and safety risks presented by the materials.


Authorization should be provided in advance of the sample.

  1. Valid purchase order number (for credit approved customers) or advance payment
  2. Statement of agreed work and price
  3. Authorized buyer's signature confirming details (1) and (2).
  4. Current MSDS, or available safety and content information, on sample material.


Hazard Classification is the responsibility of the shipper or owner of the substance, article or waste. Stresau Laboratory provides professional testing services to these parties.

Glossary of Terms

TDG: Transport of Dangerous Goods (United Nations)

detonate: to cause to explode

detonation: a violent explosion; the act of exploding

deflagration: to burn with intense heat

explosion: A violent expansion with force, noise or heat, caused by a rapid chemical change

article - A finished product or a component assembly (Example: A bullet is an article)

substance - A bulk material (Example: a chemical in a jar)

49 CFR 173 - US Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, 173

BOE: Bureau of Explosives: Formerly of the Association of American Railroads - now known as Explosives Bureau

BAM - Bundesan Stalt Fur Materialforschung Und-Prfung, UN Competent Authority for Germany

pyrophoric - A material which will ignite spontaneously in air at or below 55C.

ignition - To catch fire, begin to burn, or heat intensely

mass explosion: an explosion which affects almost the entire load virtually instantaneously.

fuse: a readily combustible material which is lit at one end to carry a flame to and detonate an explosive at the other end.

fuze: a mechanical or electrical mechanism to detonate an explosive charge.

Placard: A diamond-shaped poster, which warns the public and emergency responders about the dangerous hazards of a vehicle’s cargo.

UN Number; A four digit number which identifies the cargo. UN numbers can be located in CFR 49.

Corrosive: A material which causes irreversible tissue damage, or has a permeation rate of 0.25 in/yr on steel or aluminum.

Stresau: Stresau Laboratory, Inc.: Your first choice for hazardous material safety and compliance testing needs.

MSDS: Material Safety Data Sheet, A document which provides hazardous information about a material.

IATA DGR: International Air Transport Association, Dangerous Goods Regulations, 39th Edition 1998

Bibliography of Regulations

Transport of Dangerous Goods: Model Regulations (Tenth revised edition): United Nations; New York and Geneva 1997.

Transport of Dangerous Goods: Manual of Tests and Criteria (Second revised edition): United Nations; New York and Geneva 1995.

49 CFR

Some Definitions from Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary.