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Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

UN-symbol Font Still Unclear

July 10th, 2007 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

For more the 5 years, questions relating to the font requirements of the UN symbol, marked on hazmat packagings, continues to elude shippers. As early as 2002, a Department of Energy laboratory noted that in CFR 178.503(e)(1), the illustrated mark indicated that a lower case (Helvetica?) “u” and “n” is used, stacked vertically. Since there is no actual description of the font requirement, DOT has made several interpretations noting that per 178.503(a)(1) and 178.503(a)(10), for a bottom embossed marking on a steel drum greater then 100 liters (26 US gallons), the upper case “UN” can be used in place of the symbol, but not in the symbol. On the other hand, per 178.503(a)(1), the durable side mark must be the UN symbol as noted in 178.503(e)(1) with no upper case option. If you are asking yourself why DOT believes this to be critical, the design of the UN symbol is distinctive and allows it to be read the same regardless of the orientation (upside down or right side up). Of course, though the symbol can be read in both orientations, the remaining marking sequence is only required to have one readable orientation. You can read more about the marking requirements at: CFR on Marketing.

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