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Identifying Hazardous Materials in Your Community

Placards serve as an easily identifiable, visual source of information used by millions of workers in the transportation, public safety, and hazmat industries. Placards are diamond-shaped and when required, they must be placed on both ends and both sides of trucks, railcars, and intermodal containers that carry hazardous materials. They are coded by color and contain symbols and numbers that designate the hazard class or division of the hazardous material that is being shipped. or bulk and certain non-bulk shipments, a four digit hazardous material identification number may be on the placard or on an accompanying orange panel or a white square sign.

Placards are a key component of an international system of hazard communication to assist in identifying the general type of hazard associated with hazardous materials to quickly understand the type of hazard the material poses to safety. They help regulators working in compliance and enforcement ensure that hazardous materials shipments are transported in a safe manner consistent with the regulations, help transportation workers identify hazmat shipments so that they can be handled appropriately, and help emergency responders quickly ascertain the nature of the hazard that they face in the case of an accident or spill.

Look for the following symbols in your community and be sure to act cautiously when traveling near or encountering packages or containers possessing these signs.

collection of placards
collection of placards
You can find more information about these placards in the Emergency Response Guidebook located in the Related Links to the right on this page.
Hazardous Materials Information Center
The Information Center answers telephone calls between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time). If you call after-hours or on a weekend, we will call you back the next business day.

1-800-HMR-4922 (1-800-467-4922)

infocntr@dot.gov

National Response Center
Call the National Response Center to report spilled or leaking hazardous materials. The National Response Center answers telephone calls 24-hours a day.

1-800-424-8802

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