HazMat is an abbreviation of “Hazardous material”. A hazardous material, or HazMat, is a chemical or agent (biological, chemical, radiological, or physical) which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with others.
HazMat is often used as a general term to describe Hazardous Substances, Dangerous Goods, Extremely Hazardous Substances, or Hazardous Waste.
Classes of Hazardous Materials
The Department of Transportation has broken down hazardous materials into nine classes. They are:
- Class 1: Explosives
- Class 2: Flammable, Non-flammable and Toxic Gasses
- Class 3: Flammable Liquids
- Class 4: Flammable, Spontaneously Combustible and Water-Reactive Solids
- Class 5: Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides
- Class 6: Toxic Liquids and Solids
- Class 7: Radioactives
- Class 8: Corrosives
- Class 9: Miscellaneous
A HazMat, or hazardous material, can also be classified as a Hazardous Substance or Dangerous Goods, which has reporting requirements if spilled into the environment. A hazardous substance can any solid, liquid, or gas that may cause harm to your health or the environment.
Extremely Hazardous Substances
Some hazardous materials are identified as Extremely Hazardous Substances under Section 302 of the Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). SARA Title III requires all companies that have extremely hazardous substances on-site over a certain quantity to have a plan on file with the Local Emergency Planning Committee. This is to help plan for chemical emergencies and protect vulnerable populations.
Below is a table listing common extremely hazardous materials for reference. See Section 302 of EPCRA for a complete list.