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Total Quantity of a Hazardous Material on a Shipping Paper

Total Quantity of a Hazardous Material on a Shipping Paper

The regulations of the US Department of Transportation at 49 CFR 172.202 indicate the requirements for a hazardous materials description on a shipping paper.  A hazardous waste accompanied in transportation by a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest is subject to the regulations of both the US DOT and the US Environmental Protection Agency at 40 CFR 262, Subpart B (or authorized State agency).  The regulations of both agencies require an indication of the Total Quantity and the Number and Type of Containers/Packages when describing a Hazardous Waste/Hazardous Material on a Manifest/Shipping Paper.  They differ, however, in the form this information must take and so it is up to you as the Generator/Shipper to ensure you are in compliance.

The purpose of this article is to explain the requirements of both the US EPA and the US DOT for indicating the Total Quantity of a Hazardous Material (which includes Hazardous Waste) on a Shipping Paper (which includes a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest).  In a later article I will address the requirements for the Number and Type of Containers/Packaging.

The regulations of the US DOT at 49 CFR 172.202(a)(5) read:

Except for transportation by aircraft, the total quantity of hazardous materials covered by the description must be indicated (by mass or volume, or by activity for Class 7 materials) and must include an indication of the applicable unit of measurement, for example, ‘200 kg’ (440 pounds) or ’50 L’ (13 gallons).  The following provisions also apply:

Note the following:

  • The regulations for shipments of a hazardous material by air are found at §172.202(a)(6).
  • Total Quantity may be indicated by mass or volume.
  • Since the regulations do not indicate if a net or gross mass/volume is required for the Total Quantity, either is acceptable.  Therefore, the Total Quantity may include the weight of the hazardous material packaging (net), or solely the weight of the HazMat (gross).
  • Note the reference to Class 7 Radioactive materials.
  • Any unit of measure is acceptable as long as one is present, unless it is one of the exceptions referenced below that do not require a Total Quantity.
  • The following provisions also apply:“, refers to the following:
    • Class 1 Explosive materials.
    • Hazardous materials in salvage packaging.
    • Exceptions to 172.202(a)(5) for:  Bulk Packages, Cylinders, & Packages with Residue.

Also, §172.202(c) includes the following regarding the Total Quantity:

  • It must appear before or after, or both before and after, the hazardous materials description.
  • Abbreviations may be used to express the units of measurement for the Total Quantity.

At 40 CFR 262, Subpart B the US EPA indicates the requirements for a generator of hazardous waste who offers it for transportation.  §262.20(a)(1) requires a generator to prepare a Manifest, “…according to the instructions included in the appendix to this part.”  The instructions for Items 11 & 12 on the Manifest (Total Quantity & Units of Measure respectively) include the following:

Item 11.  Total Quantity:  Enter, in designated boxes, the total quantity of waste.  Round partial units to the nearest whole unit, and do not enter decimals or fractions.  To the extent practical, report quantities using appropriate units of measure that will allow you to report quantities with precision.  Waste quantities entered should be based on actual measurements or reasonably accurate estimates of actual quantities shipped.  Container capacities are not acceptable as estimates.

Item 12.  Units of Measure (Weight/Volume):  Enter, in designated boxes, the appropriate abbreviation from Table II (below) for the unit of measure.

Table II, Item 12.  Instructions for the completion of the hazardous waste manifest

 Note the following:

  • Total Quantity must be entered in Item 11 of the manifest, unit of measure in Item 12, no exceptions.
  • The US EPA is much more specific in its instructions as to how it wishes the number to appear:  “Round partial numbers…
  • Entering the “container capacity” or other rough estimates are not acceptable.  US EPA desires an “actual measurement or reasonably accurate estimate…” of the Total Quantity.
  • The US EPA instructions for the Manifest, like the US DOT in its regulations, does not specify the use of net or gross mass/volume for the Total Quantity.  Therefore, the Total Quantity may include the weight of the containers, or if an accurate measurement can be made, solely the weight of the hazardous waste in the containers.
  • Unlike the US DOT, the US EPA requires specific units of measure and acceptable abbreviations; refer to Table II – Units of Measure
  • The US EPA goes further to recommend the use of certain units of measure (Tons, Metric Tons, & Cubic Yards) for very large bulk shipments (rail cars, tank trucks, or barges).
  • Whatever unit of measure you choose, completion of the Hazardous Waste Report will be easier if you remain consistent and select a unit of measure required by the Report (see below):

So, which regulations must you comply:  Those of the US DOT or those of the US EPA?  Well, if shipping a hazardous material that is not a hazardous waste, then you need only follow the requirements of the US DOT.  If, however, what you offer for transportation is a hazardous waste – and you are not a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator of hazardous waste – then you must comply with the regulations of both agencies (and those of your state if it has an authorized hazardous waste program).

So in sum…

At 49 CFR 172.205(a) the US DOT requires completion of the Manifest per the regulations of the US EPA for the transportation of a hazardous waste.  Further, at §172.205(h), it requires the Manifest to contain all of the applicable elements of the hazardous materials description.


According to 40 CFR 262.202(a)(1), you must complete the Manifest per the instructions included in the appendix to §262.  Also, check with your state to see if it has any additional requirements for completion of the Manifest.

These types of questions come up in my training all the time.  Sign up to attend one of my training events, or contact me with a question regarding the regulations of the US DOT or the US EPA.