PHMSA Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG)

The U.S. Department of Transportation/Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) is a potential life-saving tool you can keep on your cell phone.   
The ERG gives you the 4-digit Identification Number corresponding with a chemical name, which allows you to find the 3-digit Action Guide number for detailed information about how a spill should be handled, such as:

  • Is the material explosive?
  • Is it safe to use water on the spill or not?
  • Will vapors rise or sink?

For example: In Charleston, WV, in 2014, a chemical called methyl cyclohexane (DOT ID #2296; Action guide #128) contaminated the water supply. For the first three days, authorities told residents to boil their water. They did not tell the public that the chemical has ground-hugging vapors, is highly explosive and does not mix in water. This was information that could have easily been found in the DOT/PHMSA Emergency Response Guidebook. As a result, over 100 residents were admitted to emergency rooms with respiratory problems or skin burns that may well have been avoided.

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