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Shipping Dangerous Goods by Air: How to Calculate Q Values

Posted on 5/29/2012 by James Griffin

Q. I want to ship a package that contains multiple dangerous goods in the same package. What special concerns do I have when preparing it for air shipment?
A. When shipping dangerous goods by air, most carriers require you to follow the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). The DGR set maximum quantity limits for each package of dangerous goods. These limits can be found in Columns H, J, and I of the List of Dangerous Goods (DGR Section 4.2). For combination packages, there are also limits on the capacity of each inner packaging. These limits are found in the packing instructions.
When packing different dangerous goods together in the same package, you need to be sure you do not exceed the limit for one full package of dangerous goods. For example, a package prepared for passenger and cargo aircraft could not hold both 5 liters of acetone and 1 liter of acetyl chloride, since those are the individual allotments for each dangerous good.
In order to confirm you are within the package limits, you must calculate the “Q” value based on the fraction of a full package each dangerous good would account for. The “Q” value must be less than or equal to one (1.0). You must write this value on the shipping paper with the quantity information.
To calculate the “Q” value for a mixed package, use the following formula:
Q = n1/M1 + n2/M2 + n3/M3…
  • Where “Q” is the sum of each fraction, n is the net quantity of each good packed in your package, and M is the maximum net quantity authorized per package.
  • *Round all fractions up to the nearest tenth, i.e., if Q = 0.31, round up to 0.4.
Learn More About IATA Regulations
Learn about “Q” Values, general packaging requirements, marking and labeling packages, and more at Lion’s Hazardous Materials Air Shipper Online Course. Meet all of your IATA training needs with this convenient and complete online course. This course meets IATA training standard at IATA 1.5, and includes comprehensive coverage of the rules for shipping hazmat by air.

Tags: hazmat, IATA, shipping, shipping papers

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