A cheat sheet for understanding industrial and household hazmat chemicals and their regulations

A cheat sheet for understanding industrial and household hazmat chemicals and their regulations

As a producer, distributor or marketer of chemical products, it is essential to understand the regulations related to warehousing and transportation of items classified as hazmat. But what makes a product considered hazmat? Hazardous materials are any material that can cause harm to humans, animals or the environment. These materials can be in liquid, solid or gaseous form.


Almost all hazardous material regulation fall under the jurisdiction of one of three federal agencies; the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Each bureaucracy has its definition of hazardous materials.


The EPA regulations relate to what kind and how much materials can be released into the air and water and also covers accidental spills and discharges. OSHA’s rules pertain specifically to human exposure in the workplace to chemicals and materials and defined limits to these exposures to protect worker health and safety. DOT regulations govern what substances and what amounts are transported by road, air and maritime vessel. The rules for these agencies are defined within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The rules are lengthy and at times inscrutable, but if you have time and motivation, you can access them online at the government website: https://www.ecfr.gov.


In addition to these agencies, hazardous substances are also classified by an international standards group governed under the United Nations called the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (or GHS). The GHS has categorized hazardous materials into nine classes defined below:

  • Explosives (Class 1)
  • Gases (Class 2)
  • Flammable Liquids (Class 3)
  • Flammable Solids; Spontaneously Combustible Materials; Dangerous when Wet Materials (Class 4)
  • Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides (Class 5)
  • Toxic Materials and Infectious Substances (Class 6)
  • Radioactive Materials (Class 7)
  • Corrosive Materials (Class 8)
  • Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods (Class 9)


Most household and industrial chemicals would fall under a smaller set of hazmat categories for being; Flammable (Class 3), Oxidizers (Class 5), Toxic (Class 6), and Corrosive (Class 8). The critical consideration is the identify the extent of the hazardous nature through testing and then ensuring that the hazmat level conforms to the appropriate regulation defined in the CFR. Each class is detailed below:


Flammable (Class 3)

Flammability is the measure of the degree to which a substance will catch on fire. A substances’ propensity to catch on fire depends on the composition of the material. As we know, gasoline is very flammable, and water is not. But what about all the substances in between such as nail polish remover, soap, and industrial cleaners? To determine how flammable material is it must be tested and measured. Several tests exist to identify flammability. ASTM is a standards organization that has specified dozens of tests to detect flammability of materials. They are defined in the following:




Several other standards groups define testing protocols for the testing for flammability of substances such as ISO, UL, and IEC to name a few.


Oxidizers (Class 5)

Oxidizers present a hazmat risk because of their ability to have a chemical reaction with other materials to catch on fire. Examples of these are pure forms of pool chemicals, hydrogen peroxide, fertilizers, and specific metal cleaners.


Toxicity (Class 6)

Toxicity measures the extent to which a material is poisonous to humans, animals or the environment. Testing for toxicity has most commonly been performed systematically on animals in a laboratory to study the effects of the poison exposure and extrapolate the impact on humans. There are various dimensions to a poisoning exposure as defined below:


Acute Toxicity – Absolute degree of being poisonous.

Subchronic Toxicity – Effects of repeated exposure to toxins over an extended period.

Carcinogenicity – The effect of the toxin to convert healthy cells into cancerous cells.

Reproductive Toxicity – Effect on female reproductive systems and the baby.

Dermal Toxicity – Toxic effect on the skin to cause irritation or inflammation.

Ocular Toxicity – Effect on the eyes.


Corrosive (Class 8)

Corrosive substances can cause irritation and damage to the skin. Corrosive substances will have either a high pH (14) or low pH (1) level. High pH materials would include things like sodium hydroxide (pH 13), and a low pH example would be the hydrochloric acid with a pH of 1 at a 40% concentration. Household items considered corrosives would be; drain cleaner, ammonia, carpet shampoo, dishwasher detergent, and bug and tar remover. There are several testing methods for the degree of corrosiveness defined by ASTM and other standards organizations.


Limited quantity exemptions

Hazmat materials sometimes can be shipped despite being hazmat due to the small quantity and the lower risk of harm due to the small amount. UPS and other shippers have defined these instances and will ship hazmat items. See link.





Potentially hazardous materials will be categorized into one of the nine classes. Materials should either be tested or an SDS sheet referenced on the substance to determine its characteristics. Once this is identified, then the CFR should be referenced to identify the relevant regulation.


Sources and for more information:


Perseverance and Specialization are Key to Dalden Corporation’s 30 Years in the Chemical Packaging and Blending Industry.

Perseverance and Specialization are Key to Dalden Corporation’s 30 Years in the Chemical Packaging and Blending Industry.

Recent surveys conclude that the average lifespan of a small business in the United States is between four to ten years. Southlake, TX based Dalden Corporation recently celebrated its 30th year in business. Being so far above the average is reason for celebration and highlights the firms’ ability to adapt and persevere in the competitive industrial chemical blending and liquid bottling business.

Dalden Corporation was formed in 1987 in Southlake, TX and is geographically situated midway between Dallas and Denton. The name “Dalden” is a combination of the city names Dallas and Denton. Since the foundation of the company, Dalden Corporation has been a steady fixture in the Southlake business community. During its early years, Dalden was producing chemical decontaminating agents for the US military and demand was strong due to the Gulf War in the early 1990s. After the war, demand for these chemicals declined and Dalden brought in new management in 2004 to develop and diversify its business.

From 2004 to 2007 Dalden found some market niches in the filling of specialized chemical test kits and blending of flammable and caustic chemicals. The company built an explosion proof filling line to accommodate this type of activity and today is a leading filler for flammables. Dalden also expanded its customer base by working with large manufacturers of automotive fluids and cleaning solvents. Many of these customers were looking to scale up their own capacity and outsourcing to Dalden was a simple way to expand production. When the recession of 2008-2009 hit, business for Dalden declined as several of these customers began to bring filling work back “in house” in order keep their own production lines busy.

The recession toughened Dalden, and the company persevered and continues to focus on being a third-party co-packaging vendor providing customized blending and filling services of third-party formulations. By working with customers with their own formulations, Dalden can service clients across multiple industries including; military, automotive, personal care, consumer products, aerospace, industrial cleaners and many others.

Dalden Corporation has historically served chemical manufacturing companies as a solution to scale up and outsource their production without them having to buy new equipment and rapidly increase hiring. Typically, such a company will look to outsource if they see a surge of filling business from 10-20% above normal. However, if a company sees a surge of 50% or more, they are more likely to plan to build their own capacity for the long term.

Over the years, Dalden has developed a reliable ecosystem of material sub suppliers in the Dallas Fort Worth region. This local supplier ecosystem has been an important key to success. Ultimately, contract bottle filling and packaging is about project management and bringing all the elements of a product together. Dalden sources thousands of items from local and regional suppliers of chemicals, bottles, caps, boxes, pallets and many other items. Putting all these items together and shipping a finished product to the destination is the specialty of a contract chemical filling company. The special skills required to understand chemistry and how to package them for stability is increasingly important today as regulations for packaged products are getting more stringent. Chemicals have different characteristics which can have implications on how they react to different packaging materials at different temperatures and environmental conditions. Getting it all right and surpassing the customer’s expectations is what Dalden aims for and will continue to do in the future.

“It is exciting to stop and look back over the last 30 years. Dalden Corporation has persevered through some challenging years, adapted to industry needs, and grown into an industry leader despite competing against larger companies.” – Dalden Corporation

Privacy Policy