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About the Sciences Branch

The Sciences Branch provides scientific research, review, and analysis functions to develop regulatory documents on the packaging, hazard analysis, classification, and transportation of all hazardous materials.


The staff of the Sciences Branch performs a number of tasks including advising on scientific issues affecting Administration policies and programs.  We provide technical expertise required to develop regulatory standards, compliance guidance, test methods, and criteria to evaluate the types and degrees of hazards associated with hazardous materials in transportation.  We also provide expertise in researching how new materials will impact current regulation including identifying research needed to support regulatory changes to ensure the safe transportation of these types of materials.  We assist in formulating safety and security policy.  The staff evaluates and recommends approval or denial of all requests for competent authority approvals under the provisions of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instruction for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TI, Annex 18) , and the International Maritime Organization’s International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).  We also provide technical expertise for the development of U.S. positions on papers submitted to the various international bodies responsible for the development of standards or regulations pertaining to the international transportation of hazardous materials.  We participate on PHMSA’s delegation to the UN Sub-Committee of Experts for the Transportation of Dangerous Goods.  We provide technical expertise on the physical and chemical hazards associated with various materials to other Federal agencies in support of their missions.  The Sciences Branch provides guidance and technical expertise on hazards analysis, classification, and packaging of all hazardous materials to the interested public, operating administrations, other Government agencies and foreign interests.

Products & Services

  • Perform technical evaluations of Permit and Competent Authority Approval applications; application topics include lithium batteries, explosives, self-reactives, organic peroxides, Fireworks Certification Agencies (FCA), infectious substances, and explosive test laboratory approvals
  • Including lithium battery, explosive, self-reactive, organic peroxide, Fireworks Certification Agency (FCA), infectious substances, and explosive test laboratory approvals
  • Review draft responses and provide technical evaluation on requests for letters of interpretation
  • Respond to questions from the regulated community, internal stakeholders, and Congress on the hazardous materials regulations
  • Draft proposed changes to the hazardous materials regulations and provide technical responses to comments on proposed rulemakings
  • Review drafts and assist in the development of training manuals pertaining to the regulation of hazardous materials in transportation as well as emergency response.
  • Manage processes related to revisions and improvements to the Emergency Response Guidebook
  • Provide technical comments on reports and proposed regulations from other Federal agencies
  • Coordinate with other agencies and organizations on hazardous material technical issues and regulations
  • Support research and development on transportation of hazardous materials by managing external contracts or coordinating with other agencies or organizations.