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Shipping Issues Related to Biomedical Research Labs

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and US Department of Transportation (DOT) have regulations regarding shipments containing Dangerous Goods. Initial and recurrent training is required for anyone wishing to transport or ship such materials. Members of Occupational Safety and Health Programs (OSHP) are trained and certified to ship dangerous goods and should be contacted (792-3604) for questions pertaining to shipping such materials.

Examples of Dangerous Goods include:

  • Dry Ice
  • Liquid Nitrogen
  • Formaldehyde (> 10% solution)
  • Infectious Human Material
  • Infectious Agents (Including recombinant viral vectors)
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (including E. coli clones)
  • Biological Toxins

Training Requirements

Federal regulations require personnel shipping Dangerous Goods to receive documentable training prior to shipping. Shipping training must be repeated every 24 months. Training covers proper classification, identification, packaging, labelling/marking and documenting of shipments. Two modules are currently available online via the CATTS program to provide training to MUSC personnel.

Personnel shipping human or animal specimens which are believed to be non-infectious should be trained in the general concepts of shipping dangerous goods and exempt biological materials.

Specimens which can be reasonably expected to contain infectious agents should be shipped as infectious agents.

To register for training, log in to CATTS, "Self Enroll" for the appropriate module and view the module by looking at "Assignments". A quiz will be administered after viewing the module. Personnel obtaining a score greater than 85% will receive a printable certificate of training. The following link provides assistance obtaining the shipping training on CATTS. PDF versions of the training modules are available for download at the bottom of this page under "Helpful Resources".

Please click here for additional information regarding permits for transporting toxins or infectious agents.

Packaging Requirements

Packaging used to ship Dangerous Goods must be compliant with standards set by IATA. Several vendors sell IATA compliant packaging  for shipping of dry ice/infectious agents. Saf T Pak is recommended as a reliable vendor for IATA compliant packaging for shipment of infectious agents.

A triple packaging system must be used for packaging Dangerous Goods. The three layers of the triple packaging system include

  1. a sealed leakproof primary receptacle (e.g. sealed conical tube, bottle or test tube).
  2. a leakproof secondary container (e.g. a styrofoam box, sealed specimen bag or larger tube). If shipping liquids, sufficient absorbant material should be included to absorb spills. Sufficient padding should be included to keep contents from jostling or breaking during shipment.
  3. an IATA compliant outer box.

Helpful Resources

Download a copy of the MUSC training modules 

Dangerous Goods in Excepted Quantities Label

Packing Instructions refer to instruction provided in the IATA DGR for properly packing the Dangerous Good. The following packing instructions have been provided: 620, 650, 904. Packing Instruction 913 (for non infectious genetically modified organisms) is the same as 620 except the package does not require testing.

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