About TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods) Directorate

What is the TDG Directorate?

The Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate is the focal point for the national program to promote public safety during the transportation of dangerous goods. The TDG Directorate serves as the major source of regulatory development, information and guidance on dangerous goods transport for the public, industry and government employees.

What is the purpose of the TDG Directorate?

Each year more and more dangerous goods are moved across Canada by road, rail, water and air. These shipments range from industrial chemicals to manufactured goods and, while indispensable to our modern way of life, they can pose a threat if not handled safely.

The transportation of such products by air, marine, rail and road is regulated under the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992. The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, adopted by all provinces and territories, establishes the safety requirements for the transportation of dangerous goods.

What information does TDG provide?

Federal and provincial legislation provide for the regulation of an extensive list of products, substances or organisms classified as dangerous. The products fall into one of nine classes:

  1. Class 1 explosives
  2. Class 2 gases
  3. Class 3 flammable liquids
  4. Class 4 flammable solids, spontaneously combustibles and substances that, on contact with water, emit flammable gases
  5. Class 5 oxidizing substances and organic peroxides
  6. Class 6 poisonous (toxic) and infectious substances
  7. Class 7 radioactive materials
  8. Class 8 corrosives
  9. Class 9 miscellaneous products or substances:
    • miscellaneous identified dangerous goods
    • certain specified goods considered dangerous to the environment
    • dangerous wastes

A system of diamond-shaped placards and labels is used to identify dangerous goods. Different colours and symbols, such as a flame for flammables or a skull and crossbones for poisons, depict the dangers peculiar to each regulated product.

When using a dangerous good (such as ethanol or formaldehyde) to preserve a biological sample (such as a frog or an animal organ) during transportation, should the dangerous good be exempt from the Regulations?

No, sections 1.19.1 and 1.19.2 do not apply to this situation. They apply only to samples that are believed to be dangerous goods. In this case, the sample is not a dangerous good, it is the substance used to preserve the sample that is a dangerous good.

What do the letters "N.O.S." mean?

N.O.S. means "Not Otherwise Specified". For example, even though gasoline is a flammable liquid, the shipping name "FLAMMABLE LIQUID, N.O.S." cannot be used because gasoline is otherwise specified.

Under section 1.39, one must display the mark illustrated in Part 4, Dangerous Goods Safety Marks, for infectious substances included in Category B: the mark is a diamond-shaped mark with UN3373 in it. As section 1.39 does not indicate that Part 4, Dangerous Goods Safety Marks, does not apply, must the Class 6.2, Infectious Substances label (three crescents superimposed on a circle) also be displayed?

Yes, the label for class 6.2, Infectious Substances (three crescents superimposed on a circle) must also be displayed. The exemption of section 1.39 allows the transportation of Category B infectious substances without the requirement of a shipping document under certain conditions. One of these conditions is the display of the Category B mark, as illustrated in Part 4, Dangerous Goods Safety Marks: the mark consists of a diamond shape with UN3373 in it. As section 1.39 does not provide an exemption from Part 4, Dangerous Goods Safety Marks, the primary class label (three crescents superimposed on a circle) must also be displayed in accordance with section 4.10. Therefore, in accordance with sections 1.39, 4.10 and 4.22.1, the two safety marks must be displayed: the Class 6.2, Infectious Substances label and the Category B mark. Please note that Class 6.2, Infectious Substances includes substances of Category A and substances of Category B. Displaying the Class 6.2, Infectious Substances label indicates the presence of infectious substances of Category A, Category B or both categories. One should not conclude that the display of the Class 6.2, Infectious Substances label implies that Category A substances are present (either alone or with Category B substances) because the display of the Class 6.2, Infectious Substances label is required for both categories. The TDG Directorate is considering an amendment to sections 1.39 and 4.22.1. The intent of this amendment is to require only the Category B mark on small means of containment containing infectious substances included in UN3373, BIOLOGICAL SUBSTANCE, CATEGORY B, instead of both the Class 6.2, Infectious Substances label and the Category B mark. With this amendment, the transportation of UN3373, BIOLOGICAL SUBSTANCE, CATEGORY B will be more closely harmonized with the requirements of international regulations.

Section 4.6 of the TDG Regulations states that dangerous goods safety marks must be visible, legible and displayed against a background of contrasting color. Could you define contrasting color?

A contrasting background refers to the surface immediately surrounding the placard. This surface must be large enough to create, from a distance, a perception of different color immediately surrounding the placard, also producing a contrasting effect with the color of the placard. There is no prescription in the TDG Regulations as to how the contrasting color effect should be obtained, or what should be considered an effective contrast. Common sense should prevail in this matter.

Where can I find a generic transportation of dangerous goods form?

There is no form required to transport dangerous goods and Transport Canada does not issue any forms to be used for this purpose. To legally transport dangerous goods, a document only needs to satisfy the documentation requirements of sections 3.5 and 3.6 of the TDG Regulations. The information required can be added to any existing document.