Hazmat Placard Specifications and Requirements

A plain language description of the DOT placard hazmat regulations.

Hazardous materials placards must meet strict specifications and requirements as defined in the 49 CFR part 172.519. These specifications define the placard strength and durability, design, size, and color. Other specifications include form or maker identification marks, exceptions, and the radioactive trefoil symbol. The following information is a plain-english summary of 49 CFR part 172.519, please refer to the exact 49 CFR regulation for official specifications. All Labelmaster hazmat placards meet these strict specifications.

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Strength and Durability

Flammable Liquid Placard
  • Hazard class placards made of plastic, metal, or other material must be capable of withstanding, without deterioration, a 30-day exposure to open weather conditions.
  • Tagboard placards must be at least equal to commercial grade white tagboard specifications with at least 80 kg (176 pound) weight per ream of 610x910 mm (24x36 inch) sheets, including any waterproofing material. Also each tagboard placard must pass a 414 kPA (60 psi) Mullen test.
  • Reflective or retro-reflective materials may be used if colors, strength, and durability requirements are met.

Mullen Test - (see http://printwiki.org/Mullen_Test)
A test performed to measure the bursting strength of paper or paperboard. In a Mullen test (also called a pop test), the paper sample is placed between two ring-like clamps in a device called a Mullen tester, and hydraulic pressure is used to inflate a rubber diaphragm, which expands against the sample stretching it. The measure of the total hydraulic pressure expanding the diaphram at the time the sample ruptures (usually expressed in either pounds per square inch or kilopascals) is its bursting strength. Mullen tests are performed for each side of a paper or paperboard, and the bursting strength can be expressed as the average of both sides. Bursting strength expressed as a percentage is called the percent Mullen. Mullen tests are typically performed on papers and boards designed for use in packaging, bags, and envelopes. It is rarely performed on printing or writing papers. See Bursting Strength.

Bursting Strength - (see http://printwiki.org/Bursting_Strength)
A property of paper or paperboard used in packaging that measures its resistance to rupturing, defined as the hydrostatic pressure needed to burst a paperboard sample when it is applied uniformly across its side. Bursting strength is a function of various processes performed in the papermaking process. The increased use of fillers decreases bursting strength, while the increased use of longer fibers and surface sizing increases a paper's bursting strength.

Bursting strength is measured utilizing a rubber diaphragm that is expanded hydraulically against the paper sample. A bursting test is also known as a Mullen test or pop test, and a minimum bursting strength is required for cartons used for shipping. Bursting strength has little application to printing papers.


Miscellaneous Placard
  • Printing, inner border, and symbol must be on placard as shown in 49 CFR 172.521 through 172.560.
  • The dotted line border shown on each label in 49 CFR 172.521 through 172.560 is not part of the specification. However, a dotted or solid line outer border bay be used to indicate a full size of a placards that is part of a larger format or is on a background of non-contrasting color.
  • For other than Class 7 or the DANGEROUS placard, text indicating a hazard is not required. Text may be omitted from the OXYGEN placards only if the identification number is displayed on the placard.
    Radioactive PlacardDangerous PlacardOxygen Placard
  • The hazard class or division number must be displayed in the lower corner of the placard. However, if a permanent placard with out a hazard class or division number displayed was installed prior to September 30, 2001 and still meets color tolerance specification then it may contineue to be used in domestic transportation by rail or highway.


Corrosive Placard
  • Placard must be at least 250 mm (9.84 inches) on each side. This is what the minimum size of a placard should be.
  • Placard must have solid line inner border 12.7 mm (0.5 inches) from the edge
  • The hazard class number or division number must be at least 41 mm (1.6 inches) in height, except as otherwise provided in this subpart.
  • The text indicating the hazard must be at least 41 mm (1.6 inches) in height, except as otherwise provided in this subpart.


  • The background color, symbol, text, numerals, and inner border must be as specified in 49 CFR 172.521 through 172.560.
  • Any color on the placard must be able to withstand, without substantial change...
    • a 72-hour fadeometer test (see ASTM G 23-69 or ASTM G 26-70)
    • a 30-day exposure to open weather
  • Colors must fall within color tolerances as defined in charts in appendix A
  • PANTONE® colors standards are as follows
    • Red — Use PANTONE® 186 U

    • Orange — Use PANTONE® 151 U

    • Yellow — Use PANTONE® 109 U

    • Green — Use PANTONE® 335 U

    • Blue — Use PANTONE® 285 U

    • Purple — Use PANTONE® 259 U

  • The placard color must extend to the inner border and may extend to the edge of the placard. Exception: The color on the CORROSIVE and RADIOACTIVE placards (black and yellow, respectively) must extend only to the inner border.

Manufacturer Identification

Labelmaster Manufacturers Mark
  • The name of the label manufacturer may appear printed outside the label solid line inner border, no larger than 10 pt type.


  • When hazardous materials are transported under the 49 CFR provisions, a placard conforming to ICAO Technical Instructions, IMDG Code, or Transport Canada TDG Regulations may be used in place of corresponding placard specifications in 49 CFR. However, a bulk packaging, transport vehicle, or frieght container containing a material poisonous by inhalation must be placardsed in accordance with this subpart.

Radioactive Symbol

  • The radioactive trefoil symbol must meet the 49 CFR 172 appendix B specifications.
Radioactive Trefoil