The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Packaging and Shipping Infectious Materials. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Classifications of Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials are classified according to the risks that they pose. These nine hazardous materials classifications are consistent across all agencies who regulate commercial shipping.
  • Class 1: Explosives
  • Class 2: Gases
  • Class 3: Flammable liquids
  • Class 4: Flammable solids
  • Class 5: Oxidizers/organic peroxides
  • Class 6: Toxic and infectious substances
  • Class 7: Radioactive material
  • Class 8: Corrosives
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous hazardous materials
Within class 6 are two divisions:
  • Division 6.1- poisonous material
  • Division 6.2- infectious substance
A division 6.2 infectious substance is defined as a material known or reasonably expected to contain a pathogen. A pathogen is a microorganism or other agent (e.g., a prion) that can cause disease in humans or animals. The classification system for Division 6.2 Infectious Substances includes two catergories, known simply as Category A and Category B. These will be defined and discussed in more detail later in the course.
The regulations that govern packaging and shipping a class 9, miscellaneous hazardous material, may also need to be reviewed by those who package and ship laboratory specimens. Dry ice is a class 9 hazardous material and, if used, requires special packaging and specific labels and markings on the outer package.