Common Items That May Be Hazardous

Certain terms indicate that dangerous goods and/or hazardous materials may be present.

Terms That Indicate Potential Hazards

The following terms may indicate hazardous materials or dangerous goods:

  • Acidic
  • Caustic
  • Combustible Communicable
  • Compressed Gas
  • Corrosive
  • Explosive
  • Flammable
  • Infectious
  • Inflammable
  • Poison
  • Radioactive
  • Refrigerated
  • Toxic
  • Volatile

Common Items That May Be Hazardous

Common Items and Their Potential Hazards 
Specific Item Potential Hazard
Air Bags May contain Air Bag Inflators, or Air Bag Modules or Seat-Belt Pretensioners.
Air Conditioning Equipment May contain gases under pressure.
Aircraft Parts May contain such items as fuel control devices which cannot be fully purged of fuel and must be shipped regulated.
Auto Parts May include carburetors, gas lines, or gas tanks which may contain gasoline.
Barometers May indicate the presence of mercury.
Batteries Come in a variety of sizes and types. Several types of batteries are regulated as hazardous materials, including spillable lead-acid batteries, many lithium batteries, etc. Positive protection against short circuits is essential, even for batteries that are not subject to applicable Hazardous Materials Regulations. (See Additional Battery Guidance below)
Breathing Apparatus May mean oxygen cylinders under pressure.
Bull Semen May signal the presence of dry ice or liquefied gas.
Camping Gear/Equipment May include many different dangerous items such as: ammunition, batteries, cooking stoves, flammable gas, fire starting pastes, flammable liquids, heat producing packets, lighters, matches (both strike anywhere and safety type), signal flares, STERNO cooking/heating fuel (the structural tubing on certain types of back packs contains liquid fuels).
Chain Saws and Other Powered Tools Will probably contain a residue of fuel.
Chemical Oxygen May indicate the presence of an oxygen generator.
Cigarette Lighters Including Lighters or Lighter Refills or Torches may contain flammable gas or flammable liquid.
Computer Equipment May contain uninterruptible power supplies with electrical storage batteries, magnets in speakers and printing ink.
Construction Equipment May indicate the presence of batteries, CO2 cartridges and other power devices, gasoline-powered saws or generators and space heaters all possibly containing fuel, Liquified Petroleum gas torches, paints, drying agents and thinners.
Cosmetics May contain flammable liquids.
Cryogenic (liquid) Means a liquefied gas of very low temperature, which must be shipped as a regulated item.
Cylinder/Container/Tank May contain flammable or non-flammable compressed gases.
Dental Apparatus/Equipment May contain hazardous chemicals such as resins, solvents or gases.
Drilling and Mining Equipment May contain explosives, acids, lubricants, mercury or other dangerous goods.
Electrical/Electronic Equipment May contain powerful magnets, mercury in switches, any one of a variety of batteries and uninterruptible power supplies containing electrical storage batteries. (See Additional Battery Guidance below)
Electrically Powered Apparatus May contain wet electric storage batteries, or lithium batteries. Even if batteries are excepted from regulations, they must be positively protected against short circuits.
Engine Parts May include carburetors, gas lines, or gas tanks which may contain fuel or fuel residue.
Fertilizer Ammonium nitrate, may be an oxidizer.
Fire Extinguishers or Fire Fighting Equipment May contain gases under pressure or gasoline engine powered equipment.
Frozen Food May contain dry ice.
Gas May indicate the presence of a flammable liquid, such as gasoline, a flammable gas or non-flammable gas.
Household Goods May include paints, bleaches, spray cans under pressure, and numerous other dangerous items.
Hunting Supplies May contain small arms ammunition or other camping-related items.
Ice Maker May contain gases under pressure.
Laboratory or Testing Equipment May contain assorted dangerous materials.
Laundry Supplies May mean strong bleaches or oxidizing fabric treatments.
Lawn Equipment Such as, but not limited to, lawn mowers and weed trimmers may contain hazardous materials in the form of fuels and/or batteries.
Lighters Including Cigarette Lighters or Lighter Refills or Torches may contain flammable gas or flammable liquid.
Machinery Parts May include adhesives, paints, sealants, solvents or other chemicals and gases.
Medical Supplies May contain flammable or corrosive chemicals, infectious substances or radioactive materials.
Mercury Or the term ‘mercurial’ may indicate a shipment that is regulated.
Motorized Equipment Which may contain gasoline or electric batteries.
MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheet May indicate a product is hazardous. Ensure that the shipment receives expert analysis before being advanced.
Office Supplies May contain aerosols, both flammable and non-flammable printing ink, uninterruptible power supplies containing electrical storage batteries.
Oxygen Generator Means a prohibited chemical device that generates oxygen and a large amount of heat.
Passenger Service Unit (PSU) May indicate the presence of an oxygen generator as utilized in an aircraft.
Perfume May contain flammable liquids.
Pharmaceuticals May include flammable liquids, radioactive medicines or other hazardous chemicals.
Photographic Supplies Could contain acids, corrosive materials, bleaches, or poisonous materials.
Rechargeable Drills, Screwdrivers and Other Hand Tools May contain lithium batteries. (See Batteries for additional information)
Refrigeration Equipment May contain gases under pressure.
Repair Kits May contain adhesives, paints, solvents, flammable gases, or other dangerous goods.
Samples for Testing May contain any number of dangerous goods.
Survey Equipment May indicate the presence of electrical equipment, batteries, power cartridges, and other regulated materials.
Swimming Pool, Jacuzzi Chemicals or Parts May contain oxidizers or other dangerous goods.
Thermometers May indicate the presence of mercury.
Tool Boxes May contain explosives (power rivets), compressed gases (spray cans), flammable adhesives or paints, corrosive liquids, etc.
Vaccines May be packed in dry ice.
Venom (Liquid, powder or otherwise) may be poisonous.
Weather Equipment May indicate the presence of devices containing mercury.
Additional Battery Guidance
Types of Batteries There are many kinds of batteries available today and several are regulated as hazardous materials in transportation that may only be shipped by contract hazmat shippers.
Lead-Acid Batteries Common in cars, electric wheelchairs, some continuous computer power sources and other applications. These batteries contain highly corrosive acid and can cause fires from short circuits.
Non-Spillable Batteries Tested, proven non-spillable batteries are allowed to be shipped as non-hazardous within the US. Batteries and packaging must be marked ‘NON-SPILLABLE’ or ‘NON-SPILLABLE BATTERY’.
Lithium and Lithium Ion Batteries Both rechargeable and non-rechargeable power sources, common in computers, cell phones, cameras and other small electronic devices. If dropped, crushed or short-circuited, these batteries can release dangerous amounts of heat and may ignite, and are dangerous in fires. Special regulations apply to shipping these batteries. Shipments requiring hazardous materials shipping papers are accepted from contract hazmat shippers only, and certain lithium batteries may not qualify for UPS service.
Other Batteries Although common dry cell (e.g., AA, C, D batteries) may not be regulated as hazardous materials, all batteries can cause fires from short circuits if batteries and terminals are not protected.
Protect Batteries and Terminals When shipping batteries, you must protect all terminals against short circuits by completely covering the terminals with an insulating material (e.g., by using electrical tape or enclosing each battery separately in a plastic bag).
  • Short circuits can cause fires.
  • Package the batteries to keep them from being crushed or damaged, and to keep them from shifting during handling.
  • Always keep metal objects or other materials that can short circuit battery terminals securely away from the batteries - e.g., by using separate inner box for the batteries.
Prevent Fires Any device with installed batteries must not turn on while in transport. Protect switches that can be accidentally activated, or remove the batteries and protect the terminals.
  • Even very simple devices like flashlights or rechargeable drills can generate a dangerous quantity of heat if accidentally activated.
Recalled or Recycled Batteries

Never ship recalled or recycled batteries by air.

Air level services include UPS Next Day Air®, UPS 2nd Day Air®, UPS 3 Day SelectSM, UPS Worldwide ExpressSM and UPS Worldwide ExpeditedSM.

No recycled or recalled batteries are allowed to be shipped between the continental U.S. and Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, where aircraft always must be used.

Shipments outside the U.S. are prohibited.

Electronic Items for Repair Repair items, such as computers and mobile phones, should be sent without batteries.

Related Links

List of Prohibited Items for Shipping

Learn More

How to Ship Batteries

Learn More

Shipping with Dangerous Goods

Learn More