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Interpretation Response #02-0127 ([Warrenton Regional Laboratory, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services] [BethE. Henricson, Ph.D.])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Warrenton Regional Laboratory, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Individual Name: BethE. Henricson, Ph.D.

Location State: VA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 8, 2002

Beth E. Henricson, Ph.D.                     Reference No. 02-0127
Microbiologist Supervisor
Warrenton Regional Laboratory
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
272 Academy Hill Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20186

Dear Dr. Henricson:

This responds to your May 1, 2002 e-mailed request for clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) as they apply to shipments of infectious substances.  Specifically, you ask whether a shipper may use a generic description as a technical name for an infectious substance in place of the specific name of the pathogen contained in the infectious substance.

As defined in § 171.8 of the HMR, "technical name" means a recognized chemical name or microbiological name currently used in scientific and technical handbooks, journals, and texts.  A generic description is authorized for use as a technical name provided it readily identifies the general chemical group or microbiological group.  For example, an infectious substance that contains the pathogen bacillus anthracis could be described on a shipping paper as "Infectious substance, affecting humans (bacillus species), 6.2, UN 2814" since "bacillus" is the genus or group name for the microorganism.  In accordance with § 171.8, generic microbiological descriptions such as "bacteria," "finigus," or "viral samples" may be used only for samples of infectious substances that are being transported for laboratory proficiency testing.  Note that the emergency response information that must accompany a shipment of an infectious substance, in accordance with Subpart G of Part 172 of the HMR, must be specific to the pathogen contained in the infectious substance.  In the case of a shipment of bacillus anthracis, the emergency response information must include specific information about the health and safety risks, how to handle a spill, and preliminary first aid measures (see § 172.602(a)).

I hope this information is helpful.  If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact this office.


Edward T. Mazzullo, Director
Office of Hazardous Materials Standards

cc: Mr. Mike Hoysler
Dangerous Goods Administration and Safety
FED EX Express
3670 Hacks Cross Road
Building G 2nd Floor
Memphis, Tenn 38125


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations