United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Labeling

The 3 possible radioactive labels used to label packages for shipment using the Transport Index (TI) - showing the samples of the White I, Yellow II, and Yellow III labels (referring to the color of the label and the roman numeral prominently displayed)

Labels are used to visually indicate the type of hazard and the level of hazard contained in a package. Labels rely principally on symbols to indicate the hazard.

Although the package required for transporting radioactive material is based on the activity INSIDE the package, the label required on the package is based on the radiation hazard OUTSIDE the package. Radioactive material is the only hazardous material which has three possible labels, depending on the relative radiation levels external to the package. Also, labels for radioactive material are the only ones which require the shipper to write some information on the label. The information is a number called the Transport Index (TI), which, in reality, is the highest radiation level at 1 meter from the surface of the package.

The three labels are commonly called White I, Yellow II, and Yellow III, referring to the color of the label and the roman numeral prominently displayed. A specific label is required if the surface radiation limit and the limit at 1 meter satisfy the following requirements:

Label Surface Radiation Level   Radiation Level at 1 Meter
White I Does not exceed 0.5 mrem/hr   Not applicable
Yellow II Does not exceed 50 mrem/hr AND Does not exceed 1 mrem/hr
Yellow III Exceeds 50 mrem/hr OR Exceeds 1 mrem/hr

Since the TI is the radiation level at 1 meter, it is clear that a White I label has no TI. A Yellow II must have a TI no greater than 1, and a Yellow III may have a TI greater than 1.

Referring to the radiation limits on page 11-19 for vehicles, it can be seen that the maximum TI for non-exclusive use vehicles (common carriers) and for exclusive use (contract carriers) open vehicles is 10. The radiation level at 1 meter from the surface of a package can exceed 10 mrem/hr only if the package is transported in an exclusive use (contract carrier) closed vehicle.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, August 10, 2017