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User's Guide

The 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2016) was developed jointly by Transport Canada (TC), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Secretariat of Communications and Transport of Mexico (SCT) and with the collaboration of CIQUIME (Centro de Información Química para Emergencias) of Argentina, for use by fire fighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving dangerous goods. It is primarily a guide to aid first responders in quickly identifying the specific or generic hazards of the material(s) involved in the incident, and protecting themselves and the general public during the initial response phase of the incident. For the purposes of this guidebook, the "initial response phase" is that period following arrival at the scene of an incident during which the presence and/or identification of dangerous goods is confirmed, protective actions and area securement are initiated, and assistance of qualified personnel is requested. It is not intended to provide information on the physical or chemical properties of dangerous goods.

This guidebook will assist responders in making initial decisions upon arriving at the scene of a dangerous goods incident. It should not be considered as a substitute for emergency response training, knowledge or sound judgment. ERG2016 does not address all possible circumstances that may be associated with a dangerous goods incident. It is primarily designed for use at a dangerous goods incident occurring on a highway or railroad. Be mindful that there may be limited value in its application at fixed facility locations.

ERG2016 incorporates dangerous goods lists from the most recent United Nations Recommendations as well as from other international and national regulations. Explosives are not listed individually by either proper shipping name or ID Number. They do, however, appear under the general heading "Explosives" on the first page of the ID Number index (yellow-bordered pages) and alphabetically in the Name of Material index (blue-bordered pages). Also, the letter (P) following the guide number in the yellow-bordered and blue-bordered pages identifies those materials which present a polymerization hazard under certain conditions, for example: Acrolein, stabilized 131P.

First responders at the scene of a dangerous goods incident should seek additional specific information about any material in question as soon as possible. The information received by contacting the appropriate emergency response agency, by calling the emergency response telephone number on the shipping document, or by consulting the information on or accompanying the shipping document, may be more specific and accurate than this guidebook in providing guidance for the materials involved.

Before an Emergency - Become Familiar with this Guidebook! In the U.S., according to the requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, 29 CFR 1910.120), and regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, 40 CFR Part 311), first responders must be trained regarding the use of this guidebook.

Guidebook Contents

1-Yellow-bordered pages: Index list of dangerous goods in numerical order of ID number. This section quickly identifies the guide to be consulted from the ID Number of the material involved. This list displays the 4-digit ID number of the material followed by its assigned emergency response guide and the material name.

For example:
ID No.
1090
Guide No.
127
Name of Material
Acetone

2-Blue-bordered pages: Index list of dangerous goods in alphabetical order of material name. This section quickly identifies the guide to be consulted from the name of the material involved. This list displays the name of the material followed by its assigned emergency response guide and 4-digit ID number.

For example:
Name of Material
Sulfuric acid
Guide No.
137
ID No.
1830

3-Orange-bordered pages: This section is the most important section of the guidebook because it is where all safety recommendations are provided. It comprises a total of 63 individual guides, presented in a two-page format. Each guide provides safety recommendations and emergency response information to protect yourself and the public. The left-hand page provides safety-related information whereas the right-hand page provides emergency response guidance and activities for fire situations, spill or leak incidents and first aid. Each guide is designed to cover a group of materials which possess similar chemical and toxicological characteristics.

The guide title identifies the general hazards of the dangerous goods covered.

For example: Guide 124 - Gases-Toxic and/or Corrosive-Oxidizing.

Each guide is divided into three main sections: the first section describes potential hazards that the material may display in terms of fire/explosion and health effects upon exposure. The highest potential is listed first. The emergency responder should consult this section first. This allows the responder to make decisions regarding the protection of the emergency response team as well as the surrounding population.

The second section outlines suggested public safety measures based on the situation at hand. It provides general information regarding immediate isolation of the incident site, recommended type of protective clothing and respiratory protection. Suggested evacuation distances are listed for small and large spills and for fire situations (fragmentation hazard). It also directs the reader to consult the tables listing Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) (PIH in the US) materials, chemical warfare agents and water-reactive materials (green-bordered pages) when the material is highlighted in the yellow-bordered and blue-bordered pages.

The third section covers emergency response actions, including first aid. It outlines special precautions for incidents which involve fire, spill or chemical exposure. Several recommendations are listed under each part which will further assist in the decision making process. The information on first aid is general guidance prior to seeking medical care.

4-Green-bordered pages: This section contains three tables.

Table 1 lists, by ID number order, TIH (PIH in the US) materials, including certain chemical warfare agents, and water-reactive materials which produce toxic gases upon contact with water. This table provides two different types of recommended safe distances which are "Initial isolation distances" and "Protective action distances". The materials are highlighted in green for easy identification in both numeric (yellow-bordered pages) and alphabetic (blue-bordered pages) lists of the guidebook. This table provides distances for both small (approximately 208 liters (55 US gallons) or less for liquids and 300 kilograms (660 pounds) or less for solids when spilled in water) and large spills (more than 208 liters (55 US gallons) for liquids and more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) for solids when spilled in water) for all highlighted materials. The list is further subdivided into daytime and nighttime situations. This is necessary due to varying atmospheric conditions which greatly affect the size of the hazardous area. The distances change from daytime to nighttime due to different mixing and dispersion conditions in the air. During the night, the air is generally calmer and this causes the material to disperse less and therefore create a toxic zone which is greater than would usually occur during the day. During the day, a more active atmosphere will cause a greater dispersion of the material resulting in a lower concentration of the material in the surrounding air. The actual area where toxic levels are reached will be smaller (due to increased dispersion). In fact, it is the quantity or concentration of the material vapor that poses problems not its mere presence.

The "Initial Isolation Distance" is a distance within which all persons should be considered for evacuation in all directions from the actual spill/leak source. It is a distance (radius) which defines a circle (Initial Isolation Zone) within which persons may be exposed to dangerous concentrations upwind of the source and may be exposed to life-threatening concentrations downwind of the source. For example, in the case of Compressed gas, toxic, n.o.s., UN1955, Inhalation Hazard Zone A, the isolation distance for small spills is 100 meters (300 feet), therefore, representing an evacuation circle of 200 meters (600 feet) in diameter.

For the same material, the "Protective Action Distance" for a small spill is 0.5 kilometers (0.3 mile) for a daytime incident and 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) for a nighttime incident, these distances represent a downwind distance from the spill/leak source within which Protective Actions could be implemented. Protective Actions are those steps taken to preserve the health and safety of emergency responders and the public. People in this area could be evacuated and/or sheltered in-place.

Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) Materials

A TIH (PIH in the US) material is a gas or volatile liquid which is known to be so toxic to humans as to pose a hazard to health during transportation, or in the absence of adequate data on human toxicity, is presumed to be toxic to humans because when tested on laboratory animals it has a Lethal Concentration 50 (LC50) value of not more than 5000 ppm.

It is important to note that even though the term zone is used, the hazard zones do not represent any actual area or distance. The assignment of the zones is strictly a function of their Lethal Concentration 50 (LC50); for example, TIH Zone A is more toxic than Zone D. All distances which are listed in the green-bordered pages are calculated by the use of mathematical models for each TIH material. For the assignment of hazard zones refer to the glossary.

Table 2 lists, by ID number order, materials that produce large amounts of Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) gases when spilled in water and identifies the TIH gases produced. These Water Reactive materials are easily identified in Table 1 as their name is immediately followed by (when spilled in water). Some Water Reactive materials are also TIH materials themselves (e.g., Bromine trifluoride (UN1746), Thionyl chloride (UN1836), etc.). In these instances, two entries are provided in Table 1 for land-based and water-based spills. If the Water Reactive material is NOT a TIH, and this material is NOT spilled in water, Table 1 and Table 2 do not apply and safety distances will be found within the appropriate orange-bordered guide.

Table 3 provides, by alphabetical order of material name, initial isolation and protective action distances for six Toxic Inhalation Hazard materials that may be more commonly encountered. The selected materials are:

The table provides Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances for large spills (more than 208 liters or 55 US gallons) involving different container types (therefore different volume capacities) for day-time and night-time situations and different wind speeds.

Isolation and Evacuation Distances

Isolation or evacuation distances are shown in the guides (orange-bordered pages) and in the Table 1 - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances (green-bordered pages). This may confuse users not thoroughly familiar with ERG2016.

It is important to note that some guides refer only to non-TIH (PIH in the US) materials (37 guides), some refer to both TIH and non-TIH materials (21 guides) and some (5 guides) refer only to TIH or Water-reactive materials (WRM). A guide refers to both TIH and non-TIH materials (for example see Guide 131) when the following sentence appears under the title Evacuation-Spill: "See Table 1 - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances for highlighted materials. For non-highlighted materials, increase, in the downwind direction, as necessary, the isolation distance shown under 'Public Safety.'" A guide refers only to TIH or WRM materials (for example see Guide 124) when the following sentence appears under the title Evacuation-Spill: "See Table 1 - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances". If the previous sentences do not appear in a guide, then this particular guide refers only to non-TIH materials (for example see Guide 128).

In order to identify appropriate isolation and protective action distances, use the following:

If you are dealing with a TIH/WRM/Chemical warfare material (highlighted entries in the index lists), the isolation and evacuation distances are found directly in the green-bordered pages. The guides (orange-bordered pages) also remind the user to refer to the green-bordered pages for evacuation specific information involving highlighted materials.

If you are dealing with a non-TIH material but the guide refers to both TIH and non-TIH materials, an immediate isolation distance is provided under the heading Public Safety as a precautionary measure to prevent injuries. It applies to the non-TIH materials only. In addition, for evacuation purposes, the guide informs the user under the title Evacuation-Spill to increase, for non-highlighted materials, in the downwind direction, if necessary, the immediate isolation distance listed under "Public Safety". For example, Guide 131 - Flammable Liquids-Toxic, instructs the user to: "As an immediate precautionary measure, isolate spill or leak area for at least 50 meters (150 feet) in all directions." In case of a large spill, the isolation area could be expanded from 50 meters (150 feet) to a distance deemed as safe by the on-scene commander and emergency responders.

If you are dealing with a non-TIH material and the guide refers only to non-TIH materials, the immediate isolation and evacuation distances are specified as actual distances in the guide (orange-bordered pages) and are not referenced in the green-bordered pages.

Note 1: If an entry is highlighted in green in either the yellow-bordered or blue-bordered pages and there is no fire, go directly to Table 1 - Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances (green bordered pages) and look up the ID number and name of material to obtain initial isolation and protective action distances. If a fire is involved, also consult the assigned guide (orange-bordered pages) and apply as appropriate the evacuation information shown under Public Safety.

Note 2: If the name in Table 1 is shown with "When Spilled In Water", these materials produce large amounts of Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) gases when spilled in water. Some Water Reactive materials are also TIH materials themselves (e.g., Bromine trifluoride (UN1746), Thionyl chloride (UN1836), etc.). In these instances, two entries are provided in Table 1 for land-based and water-based spills. If the Water Reactive material is NOT a TIH and this material is NOT spilled in water, Table 1 and Table 2 do not apply and safety distances will be found within the appropriate orange-bordered guide.

Date Modified:
2016-08-25