Mom, can I be a hazmat pro for Halloween?

Most hazmat pros ARE heroes, this gentleman is clearly neither.

One sunny morning in mid-October, Anne poured the milk for her kids’ cereal and asked, “Hey guys—what do you want to be for Halloween this year?”

Seven-year-old Kyle said, “Spider Man!”

Nine-year-old Jenna said, “Wonder Woman!”

And eleven-year-old Zack said, “A hazmat professional!”

“A hazmat professional?” Anne shut the refrigerator and peered at Zack. “Is that from a new movie or something?”

Zack said, “No, it’s someone who helps companies deal with hazmat. Duh.”

The younger kids giggled, while Anne gave Zack a quick glare. “Don’t duh me, buster, or you’ll make your own costume this year. So you want to be one of those hazmat guys, like with a yellow suit and a hood?”

“No, Mom.” Zack rolled his eyes so broadly Anne could swear she heard his corneas move in his head. “Hazmat pros just wear normal stuff.”

Anne was puzzled. “But don’t you need to protect your skin and your lungs from the hazmat spill?”

Zack executed a textbook facepalm, causing Kyle to nearly blow milk out his nose. Zack looked up and said, “No Mom, I’m not the guy who cleans up the hazmat spill. I’m the guy who keeps the spill from happening in the first place.”

“Okaaaay,” said Anne. “But don’t you want to be, I dunno, some kind of hero?”

“That’s just it, Mom—hazmat pros are heroes!” Zack jumped to his feet, his spoon clattering to the floor, and held his arms wide. “Don’t you realize we’re surrounded by hazmat?”

Jenna shrieked. Anne tried to recall the name of the school psychologist. She cried, “What are you talking about?”

“The battery in your phone? Hello?” Zack started ticking items off on his fingers. “Let’s see. Your laptop? Your nail polish? That hand sanitizer you threw in my backpack? Even the smoke detector!”

Anne said, “But that stuff isn’t dangerous.”

“It can be if it’s not transported or handled correctly,” said Zack. “Why do you think the government publishes this?”

He reached into his backpack and pulled out two thick paperback books with identical blue-and-white covers. They were battered and smudged, with dozens of dog-eared pages.

Zack proclaimed, “Quake ye mortals at the Federal Code of Regulations, Book 49, commonly known as the 49 CFR! Updated annually by the US Department of Transportation’s PHMSA division, this is the 1200-page bible of American Dangerous Goods transport!”

“Fimza?” Anne muttered. “Sounds like a top secret evil organization.”

Zack laughed. “That’s what a lot of shippers say, too, but they don’t get it. PHMSA is on our side. We work together to protect the public and keep our economy moving. Did you know there are 1.4 million Dangerous Goods shipments every day?”

“No, honey, I didn’t know that.” Anne said. “But how do you protect everyone?”

“By making sure shippers know the rules, and training people to follow those rules and ship hazmat compliantly.” Zack sighed as only a pre-teen can sigh. “I mean, there are new regulations and exceptions practically every week, and that’s just domestically! Don’t even get me started on ICAO and IATA. Do you have any idea what it takes to keep up with this stuff?”

Kyle said, “You’d have to be some kind of hyper genius!”

Jenna said, “And all that work to keep people safe? Yeah, totally super hero.”

Anne said, “Okay, you convinced me. You can be a hazmat pro for Halloween. What do you need?

“Just khakis and a decent shirt. Maybe a hard hat or some safety glasses.” Zack sat down and sipped his orange juice. “Oh, and DG pros always have dogs, so we’ll need to get a puppy.”

“Nice try, buster.” Anne said. “Now eat up, you three, or you’ll miss the bus.”

Later, as she rinsed the dishes, it came to her. Bloomberg, that was the school psychologist’s name. Or was it Bloomfield?

Be hero, with hazmat resources and support services from Labelmaster! Labelmaster is a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at


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