Dangerous goods


Dangerous goods are substances that are potentially hazardous for health, safety or the environment.

In order to minimize risks associated with their transportation, dangerous goods are required to comply with some special conditions for their handling, loading or labeling.

International legislation

Due to their singularity and the specific requirements, dangerous goods’ transportation is subject to a strict international regulation in every transport modality.
They are classified in five categories:

  • European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR):
Signed in 1957 in Geneva by the United Nations, it currently includes 51 countries.
The agreement regulates the terms of dangerous goods’ road carriage.
  • European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (AND):
It is the body of rules for dangerous goods transportation within the continent’s inland waterways (rivers, lakes or navigable canals).
  • RID Regulation:
Current since 1980, this is the regulation for dangerous goods transportation by rail. 44 countries are currently affiliated.
  • International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG):
Published by the IMO (International Marine Association), collects all provisions and regulations for dangerous good maritime transportation. It is updated every two years.
  • IATA DGR Regulation:
The IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulates international dangerous goods shipments by air.

Dangerous goods classification

All dangerous merchandise is classified according to its chemical characteristics and degree of danger.

There are 9 types of dangerous goods.


Explosive substances and objects, and substances or objects designed to have an explosive or pyrotechnic effect.


There are different risk levels in Class 1:

  • Substances and objects with a mass explosion hazard.
  • Substances and objects with a high projection risk but no mass explosion hazard.
  • Substances and objects with fire, blast or projection hazard but no mass explosion hazard.
  • Substances and objects with no considerable risk.
  • Insensitive substances with no mass explosion hazard.
  • Extremely insensitive objects with no mass explosion hazard.


Gases include all substances which, under 50⁰C, have a steam pressure above 300 kPa, or are completely gaseous at 20⁰C at a pressure of 101,3 kPa.
To determine the transportation conditions they are classified according to their physical state in 5 categories (compressed gas, liquefied gas, refrigerated liquefied gas, dissolved gas and absorbed).
There are different risk divisions within Class 2:

Flammable gas

Gasos inflamables

Nonflammable gas

Gasos no inflamables i no tòxics

Toxic gas

Gasos tòxics

Flammable liquids

This category includes liquids, liquid mixes and liquids containing solid, in solution and in suspension matter with a flashing point at 60⁰C, or lower temperatures in closed-cup tests. It also includes desensitized liquids.

Líquids inflamables

There are different risk divisions in Class 3 according to their flashpoint temperatures:

  • Substances with a high flash point
  • Substances with a middle point
  • Substances with a low flash point

Flammable solids and substances

Including substances not classified as explosives which may easily ignite or activate fire in transportation conditions.
here are different risk divisions in Class 4:

Flammable solids

Sòlids inflamables

Spontaneously combustible substances

Substàncies que poden experimentar combustió espontània

Substances releasing toxic or flammable gases when wet

Substàncies que en contacte amb l’aigua desprenen gasos inflamables

Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides

Due to their different chemical properties it’s not possible to set unique criteria to classify them all. They can however be differentiated in two main subcategories:

Oxidizing substances

Substàncies comburents

These substances are not combustible themselves, but can cause spontaneous combustion on other matters, usually by liberating oxygen.

Organic peroxides

Peròxids orgànics

Thermally unstable substances susceptible to self-accelerated exothermic reactions, which can generate explosive decomposition, rapid ignition, or be sensitive to impacts or scratches, react dangerously to other substances or provoke eye injuries.

Toxic and infectious substances

They are classified according to each substance’s toxicity risk.
They’re divided in two subgroups within Class 6:

Toxic substances

Gasos tòxics 1

Substances able to cause death or serious injury, or may cause prejudicial effects on human health if swallowed, inhaled or in contact with skin.

Infectious substances

Substàncies infeccioses

Substances containing pathogens that can cause disease in humans or animals.

Radioactive material

Materials radioactius

Radioactive material refers to all materials containing radionuclides with an activity concentration higher than the specified values.

  • Fissionable substances:

Uranium 233, uranium 235, plutonium 239, plutonium 241 or any other combination of these radionuclides.

  • Low toxicity Alpha emitting materials:

Natural uranium, depleted uranium, natural thorium, uranium 238, thorium 232, thorium 228, and thorium 230.

Corrosive substances

Substàncies corrosives

Substances which, due to their chemical action, cause serious injuries to living tissues upon contact or, in the event of a leak, can damage or destroy other goods.

For packaging purposes we classify substances and preparations according to their danger: high, mid or low danger.

Dangerous substances and objects that cannot be included on the above categories.

These are the substances and objects presenting a different level of risks during transportation that the ones explained above.

Substàncies i articles perillosos diversos no compresos en les altres categories

Class 9 substances and objects are subdivided as follows:

  • Substances that, upon inhalation as fine dust, may put health at risk.
  • Substances releasing flammable vapors.
  • Lithium batteries
  • Capacitors
  • Lifesaving appliances
  • Substances and objects that, in the event of fire, may form dioxins.
  • Substances transported or presented to carrier at high temperatures.
  • Substances dangerous for the environment.
  • Microorganisms and genetically modified organisms.
  • Other substances posing a risk to transportation but do not correspond to the above categories.