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Interpretation Response #09-0235 ([NEMA] [Mr. Craig Updyke])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: NEMA

Individual Name: Mr. Craig Updyke

Location State: VA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

January 8, 2010




Mr. Craig Updyke

Manager, Trade and Commercial Affairs


1300 North 17th Street, Suite 1752

Rosslyn, VA 22209

Ref. No.: 09-0235

Dear Mr. Updyke:

This responds to your September 30, 2009 letter regarding the applicability of the Hazardous Materials regulations (HMR; 49 CFR parts 171-180) to certain lamps

(e.g., lighting equipment, including light bulbs), containing small amounts of hazardous materials, including mercury and/or radioactive isotopes. Specifically, you are seeking reaffirmation or an update of:

- Previous interpretations on this issue provided to your company on June 14, 2005 (Ref. No.05-0086) and August 17, 2005 (Ref. No. 05-0174); and

- An interpretation of the labeling requirements for pallet loads of lighting product marked "UN 2911".

Q1. Is the following statement of understanding correct?

On the first point, based on the 2005 letters, NEMA lamp companies understood that exceptions to the HMR are not mandatory. The importance of this for manufacturers of lamps containing radioactive materials is that measurements need not be taken to verify whether a package is subject to the exception if the shipper chooses not to take advantage of the exception to the requirement to mark packages of radioactive lamps with "UN 2911" without taking measurements of total radioactivity. In 2005, the companies wanted to make sure that over- complying would not constitute a compliance problem and were assured by PHMSA that it would not. Is that still the case?

A1. The answers to the questions in the two previous interpretations (Ref. No.05-0086; 6/14/05 and Ref. No. 05-0174; 8/17/05) provided to your company on this issue are still correct.

As you are aware, when properly identified as containing limited quantity amounts of both mercury and radioactive isotopes in accordance with §173.423, NEMA lamp companies' lighting products must be classed for the additional hazard, packaged to conform with the requirements specified in § 173.421(a)(1) through (a)(5) or § 173.424(a) through (g), as appropriate, and offered for transportation in accordance with the requirements applicable to the hazard for which it is classed. Therefore, except for those exceptions pertaining to labeling, specification packaging, and marking, a material offered for transportation as "Radioactive material, excepted package-instruments or articles, UN 2911" is fully subject to the HMR.

Q2. Is the following statement of understanding correct?

On the second point, NEMA lamp companies are seeking a clear interpretation of the requirements for marking of pallet-loads of "UN 2911" lamps. One view is that, if a pallet of "UN 2911" cartons is secured with transparent shrink-wrap, each carton must be marked with "UN 2911". A second approach would have the entire pallet of cartons enclosed by a large overpack box that is marked with "UN 2911". A third possibility would have the pallet of cartons shrink- wrapped with UN 2911" labels included between layers of the wrapping so they are clearly visible.

A2. Generally, in accordance with § 173.448(g), if an overpack is used to consolidate individual packages or to enclose a single package of Class 7 (radioactive) material, the package(s) must comply with the packaging, marking, and labeling requirements of the HMR. In addition, the overpack must be labeled as prescribed in § 172.403(h), and marked as prescribed in subpart D of Part 172 and § 173.25(a). The transport index of the overpack may not exceed 3.0 for passenger-carrying aircraft or 10.0 for cargo-aircraft shipments. Thus, the overpack must be marked, and labeled as required for each hazardous material it contains, unless markings and labels representative of each hazardous material in the overpack are visible. Your company's view that each carton must be marked with "UN 2911" if a pallet of cartons is secured with transparent shrink-wrap is the correct one.

I hope this information is helpful. If we can be of further assistance, please contact us.


Charles E. Betts

Chief, Standards Development

Office of Hazardous Materials Development

173.25, 173.424, 173.448(g)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.421 Excepted packages for limited quantities of Class 7 (radioactive) materials
173.424 Excepted packages for radioactive instruments and articles
173.448 General transportation requirements