USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #00-0182 ([U. S. Department of Labor] [Mr. John P. Seiler])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: U. S. Department of Labor

Individual Name: Mr. John P. Seiler

Location State: PA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

September 22, 2000

Mr. John P. Seiler               Ref. No. 00-0182
Physical and Toxic Agents Division
U. S. Department of Labor
Mine Safety & Health Administration
P.O. Box 18233
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15236

Dear Mr. Seiler:

This is in reference to your letter dated June 20, 2000, requesting clarification on the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) to the shipment of mine air samples from remote locations to your laboratory in Pittsburgh.  Specifically, you propose to class and label your air samples as "Laboratory Samples- Non-hazardous."

According to your letter and enclosures, evacuated 50cc samples bottles are used to collect mine atmospheric air samples.  The glass tip is broken then re-sealed with a plastic cap containing wax and shipped to the laboratory for analysis.  An analysis is performed at the laboratory for oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, hydrogen, acetylene, ethylene, ethane, and argon.  Most of the time, the concentrations are around normal atmospheric conditions; however, during some mine fires, up to 60% methane can be found.

Under §173.22, it is the shipper's responsibility to properly classify a hazardous material.  This Office does not perform that function.  According to your laboratory analysis, your gas samples could contain as much as 60 % methane which is a Division 2.1 flammable gas, as well as other flammable gases such as acetylene, ethylene, and ethane; carbon monoxide which is a Division 2.3 poisonous gas; and Division 2.2 non-flammable gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, and argon.  If your gas samples meet the hazard class defining criteria in Part 173, they are subject to the HMR.  Based upon your hazard class determination, possible shipping descriptions from the Hazardous Materials Table for describing your gas samples are as follows:

Gas sample, non-pressurized, flammable, n.o.s.,2.1, UN 3167 or

Gas sample, non-pressurized, toxic, flammable, n.o.s., 2.3, UN 3168 or

Gas sample, non-pressurized, toxic, n.o.s., 2.3, UN 3169

Section 173.306(a)(4) requires gas samples to be transported under the following conditions:
(1) a gas sample may only be transported as non-pressurized gas when its pressure corresponding to ambient atmospheric pressure in the container is not more than 105 kPa absolute (15.22 psia); (2) non­pressurized gases, toxic (or toxic and flammable) must be packed in hermetically sealed glass or metal inner packagings of not more than one L (0.3 gallons) overpacked in a strong outer packaging; (3) non­pressurized gases, flammable must be packed in hermetically sealed glass or metal inner packagings of not more than 2.5 L (0.5 gallons) overpacked in a strong outer packaging.

I hope this satisfies your inquiry.


Delmer F. Billings
Chief, Standards Development
Office of Hazardous Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.22 Shipper's responsibility