They may be corrosive, flammable, explosive, oxidising or reactive with water. Whatever their properties and potential for injury and destruction, great care is needed in their handling, storage and transport.
Australia has adopted a system of classification and labelling for dangerous goods (from 1 to 9), which helps people to quickly recognise their properties and dangers:
- Explosives - commercial explosives, fireworks, ammunition and flares
- Gases - compressed and liquefied gases and aerosols
- Flammable liquids - lighter fluid, matches, paint thinner, fire lighters and alcohol
- Flammable solids - adhesives, articles containing celluloid, oily rags and petrol
- Oxidising substances and organic peroxides - bleaches, acids and pool chemicals, glass fibre repair kits, hair and textile dyes, disinfectants and adhesives
- Toxic and infectious substances - viable micro-organisms and pathological samples
- Radioactive materials - instruments and medical or research materials containing radioactive sources
- Corrosive materials - acids, alkalis, wet-cell batteries, caustic soda and mercury
- Miscellaneous dangerous goods - magnetised materials, dry ice, machines equipped with fuel tanks, polymerisable materials, noxious or irritating substances, articles liable to damage aircraft structures and articles possessing other inherent characteristics that make them unsuitable for air carriage unless properly packed.