What are the most common types of hazmat in the U.S.?
August 18, 2008 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Ok, so: esoterica time. I'm curious about hazardous materials. Where can I find out (statistically, not anecdotally) what are the most common types of hazmat circulating out there in each class, by volume, in the U.S.?

See, I can find lists of UN numbers (and alphabetized!) and basic census data about major products, so I'm not exactly research-ignorant, but I can't seem to find--for example--a list of the five most common toxic/infectious materials (Class 6).

I would have thought that PHMSA would have this info available, but their data pretty much focuses on accidents and spills.
posted by kittyprecious to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (And yes, I realized that "data" are plural. Oops.)
posted by kittyprecious at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2008

Have you checked the official Federal hazmat site? (They have a lot of papers and massive PDFs so I couldn't be bothered to check myself. ;) )
posted by Ky at 9:09 AM on August 18, 2008

What are your parameters? Any hazmat at all, including the mild stuff rated number 1?
posted by small_ruminant at 9:30 AM on August 18, 2008

Response by poster: Ky, that's part of the PHMSA website...and believe me, I feel like I've scoured it top to bottom. The only report that (sort of) touches on it is from 10 years ago.

And small_ruminant, I don't think I understand your question (but yes, anything counts).
posted by kittyprecious at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2008

Oh, duh. One would think this kind of "list" information is floating around the web, but I guess not. You may not have much choice but to try to contact a public relations official from one of the GOV sites for numbers, or something. Good luck in the search.
posted by Ky at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2008

If you do contact a government PR person with your question, be prepared to have your name put on a list at Homeland Security.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:26 AM on August 18, 2008

This is frustrating. I have the information for Canada, but I'm not certain of the proper US source.

It's not quite what you're looking for, but Scorecard is close. It can do hazards by ZIP code.

Allow me to keep digging.
posted by bonehead at 11:03 AM on August 18, 2008

Sorry- there are a zillion ways to rate stuff, but I was thinking of the NFPA 704 ratings.

Things like wood dust and vegetable oil are considered hazardous, but I'm guessing those aren't the sorts of things you're interested in? while I was rooting around for that chart I found this- look up a substance's NFPA 704 rating. Neat!
posted by small_ruminant at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2008

You may want to try checking out ToxNet . It's a group of databases about toxic materials. I have never seen such a list on this site, though; I'd concur with Carol Anne's assessment and add a caveat that the government doesn't always want to make this type of materials information easy to locate, so it may not exist in a fashion where you can get your hands on it.

But, TRI (Toxics Release Inventory, part of ToxNet) includes hazardous materials emitted by industry by location and superfund sites. It's where Scorecard that bonehead linked gets its data, and permits you to search by material rather than zip code, and also permits you to select different years of data. This uses the CAS registry codes rather than the UN numbers, but ToxNet also includes ChemIDPlus, a chemical dictionary that includes multiple standard codes for substances, that might help you negotiate between the different nomenclatures as you pursue this question.
posted by holyrood at 5:01 PM on August 18, 2008

I have an answer for you.

The Office of Hazardous Materials ans Safety appears to be the US body that oversees this. Their webpage is here.

This report addresses your question directly, using data for 2002.

I've not had much luck turning up data on what is actually stored in terms of hazards, This does not appear to be publicly reported in the US. The EPA people I've spoken to don't think so, at any rate.
posted by bonehead at 10:53 AM on August 19, 2008

Just a note: small_ruminant, the NFPA is US-only and isn't a great search term for world resources. The NFPA doesn't have much legal standing---it's a voluntary classification system and compliance in labeling isn't perfect or consistant.

The world, US included, is switching to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The UN website is here. There are also guidance documents for US implementation under OSHA and the US EPA available. This extends and incorporates the UN transport of dangerous goods (what the rest of the world calls hazardous materials) classification scheme. GHS is still in the early stages of roll-out, but it's going to be the system the US and the world uses for chemical and other hazard transport and management for a long time to come (and largely comes from Canada's WHMIS standard, I might add).
posted by bonehead at 1:14 PM on August 19, 2008

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