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 #22-0032

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry Testing Company, Ltd.

Individual Name: Bin Fan

Location State: 31 Country: CN

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

July 21, 2022

Bin Fan
Senior Engineer
Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry Testing Company, Ltd.
No. 2779 Guangfu West Road, Putuo District
Shanghai, China

Reference No. 22-0032

Dear Ms. Fan:

This letter is in response to your April 10, 2022, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to the classification and description of an e-cigarette that contains a lithium ion battery. You provided four photographs illustrating the e-cigarette and other equipment and ask questions on how to properly classify and describe the product for purposes of packaging, hazard communication, and transportation.

We have paraphrased and answered your questions as follows:

Q1. You ask whether the e-cigarette packaged together with a charger should be described as "Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment"—which is subject to packing instruction (PI) 966 in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions (ICAO TI) on the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air—or should the e cigarette packaged together with a charger be described as "Lithium ion batteries" subject to PI 965 in accordance with the ICAO TI.

A1. Please note, in accordance with § 173.22, it is the shipper's responsibility to properly classify and describe a hazardous material, as this Office does not perform that function. Furthermore, in accordance with § 173.185 of the HMR, the term "equipment" is defined as the device or apparatus for which the lithium cells or batteries provide electrical power for its operation. For example, a charger (i.e., a spare battery) may provide power to an e-cigarette (i.e., equipment).

Q2. Since the e-cigarette and charger can be shipped separately and because the charger and e-cigarette both contain a lithium ion battery, you ask how to describe each component when they are transported in separate packages.

A2. Ultimately, it is the shipper's responsibility to properly classify and describe a hazardous material, but it is the opinion of this office that an e-cigarette packaged and shipped without the charger should be described as "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment including lithium ion polymer batteries, 9" and shipped accordingly. If the charger is packaged and shipped without the e-cigarette, it should be described as "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries including lithium ion polymer batteries, 9" and shipped accordingly.

Q3. You ask if the material contains a heating rod, a battery management unit (BMU), and a lithium ion battery—with no atomizer—can you describe the material as equipment or a charger. In addition, you ask if the atomizer was integrated in the e-cigarette, could you consider the e-cigarette as "equipment" since the lithium ion battery from the e-cigarette provides electricity to the atomizer.

A3. If the device contains no atomizer, it would be considered "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries including lithium ion polymer batteries, 9" for shipping purposes. If the device contains an atomizer, it would be described as "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment including lithium ion polymer batteries, 9."

Q4. You ask if the e-cigarette contains both a flammable liquid component and a lithium ion battery, what is the appropriate description and classification for purposes of shipping.

A4. It is the shipper's responsibility to properly classify and describe a hazardous material; yet, it is the opinion of this Office that an e-cigarette powered by a lithium ion battery and containing a flammable liquid component may potentially be classified and described as "UN3540, Articles containing flammable liquid, n.o.s., 3." Because the classification and description of a hazardous material are dependent on the type and quantity of material; absent more specific information, it is difficult to specify the most appropriate classification and description for equipment having both a flammable liquid component and a miscellaneous hazard component (e.g., a lithium ion battery).

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Dirk Der Kinderen
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.22

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.22 Shipper's responsibility