Designation in dangerous goods

Did you ever notice that there are differences in the designation of dangerous goods? Users and formulators of safety data sheets come into contact with the dangerous goods in section 14 of the safety data sheet. Even with pure substances, but also with mixtures, there is often a different wording in section 14 than in the rest of the safety data sheet.

Designation in dangerous goods and the UN number

The most obvious distinction in the designation results from the specified information in the dangerous goods, for example in ADR. A shipping name (designation and description in Annex A, Part 3 of the ADR) [1] is specified for each UN number. But it is not quite that simple. In addition to very clear designations such as “nickel nitrite” (UN 2726), there are also more general formulations, such as “toxic solid, organic, N.O.S.” (UN 2811). Additional information may be necessary depending on the designation.

Types of entry and designation

There is a differentiation into four entry types for the shipping name, example in brackets:

  • A – Single entries for precisely defined substances / articles (acetone)
  • B – Generic entries not covered by N.O.S. (adhesives)
  • C – Specific N.O.S. entries (alcohols, N.O.S.)
  • D – General N.O.S. entries (flammable liquid, N.O.S.)

What is N.O.S.? What is added in the designation?

First of all, N.O.S means “not otherwise specified”. As the name suggests, if there is a more specific, appropriate UN number, then this has to be used. However, if the substance / mixture / dangerous good has no other specification or group, then the N.O.S. UN numbers should be used.

Such and similar entries are accompanied by the special provision 274 (also 318), which states that more than just the exact Name of the UN number should be added.

It is mandatory to add technical names of relevant substances and optionally also references to the kind of composition. Thus, for example, the indication of “mixture” or “solution” is also possible. If subsidiary hazards were identified, then the technical names of the substances concerned should also refer to these subsidiary hazards. The result is then the generic entry with N.O.S. and the described additions in brackets behind it, e.g., “UN 3540 Goods containing a flammable liquid, N.O.S. (pyrollidine)” (ADR, Part A, Chapter 3, [1].

In the case of mixtures, the substances to be declared can therefore be recognised on the basis of their individual classifications and declared accordingly. Our software for creating safety data sheets, GeSi³, therefore also offers an automatic addition of the designation for generic entries.

You can find more dangerous goods topics here.


[1]        International: ADR 2021, web presence of UNECE, 15.03.2022

[1]        German: ADR 2021, Holzhäuser, ecomed-Storck GmbH, ISBN: 978-3-609-69443-6

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