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Transport of Biological Materials

A number of entities regulate shipment of (potentially) infectious materials; the two with the most important roles are the US Department of Transportation and the International Air Transport Association.  DOT and IATA define two groups of infectious materials, Categories A&B, each of which have their own specific packaging and labeling requirements.

Category A materials are the highest risk category of microorganisms or materials reasonably expected to contain them, and pose a significant hazard to humans or animals.   DOT and IATA list organisms that must be classified in category A.  The list is not all inclusive; it defines the hazard level at or above which an organism must be classified and packaged in accordance with Category A designation.

Category B materials are infectious substances in a form not generally capable of causing serious disease in humans or animals.  They comprise low and moderate risk microorganisms and materials reasonably expected to contain them.  Examples include blood/body fluids suspected of containing HIV or Hepatitis B, Staph. aureus, and varicella virus (chicken pox).  Their packaging and labeling requirements are relatively less stringent.

All persons who offer Category A or B materials for transport must receive training triennially.  This training can be arranged either by contacting EH&S at 5-6780 to arrange in-person training, or by accessing the appropriate training module through the University’s RASCAL system.  Select ‘Training Center’ follow the link for ‘Safety Courses’ and complete course TC0022.

Category A and Category B materials must not be transported by individuals in private cars or University buses.  If these materials are to be sent off-campus, a company such as FedEx or UPS, or a contract courier must be used.

Dry Ice  In addition to the classifications and rules for potentially infectious materials, DOT and IATA regulate the shipment of solid carbon dioxide, or dry ice, as a dangerous good regardless of the hazard classification of any other materials in the package.  Dry ice may cause burns, and if packaged improperly, can result in dangerously high pressure build-up inside of a sealed contained.  For these reasons, there are specific training, labeling, and packaging requirements for shipments containing dry ice.  Training for the preparation of dry ice packages can be found on the RASCAL system.  Select ‘Testing Center’ follow the link for ‘Safety Courses’ and complete course TC0076 .

Please contact EH&S for further details and instruction on shipping these materials.



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