University of Delaware Procedures for Transporting Biological Materials

Note: These procedures are for driving or transporting biological materials by university personnel. For information regarding shipping biological materials through a carrier such as FedEx, refer to the "Shipping Biological Materials" procedures. These procedures are only for biological materials. If the samples contain chemicals contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer at 831-2103. If the samples are radioactive, contact the Radiation Safety Officer at 831-1434.

  1. Are your samples considered hazardous:
  2. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the transportation of hazardous materials by road in the United States.

    The following categories of materials are considered hazardous according to the 2009 edition of the DOT Regulations.

    • Dry Ice
    • Infectious substances: material known to contain or suspected of containing a pathogen. A pathogen is a microorganism (including its viruses, plasmids, or other genetic elements, if any) or a prion that has the potential to cause disease in humans or animals
    • Patient specimens: human or animal material including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue, and tissue fluids, being transported for diagnostic or investigational purposes related to infectious disease. Patient specimens that do NOT contain a pathogen or that contain a Risk Group 1 pathogen are NOT considered hazardous
    • Cultures and stocks: material prepared and maintained for growth and storage and containing a Risk Group 2, 3, or 4 infectious substance
    • Sharps: any object contaminated with a pathogen or that may become contaminated with a pathogen through handling or during transportation and also capable of cutting or penetrating skin or a packaging material. This includes needles, syringes, scalpels, broken glass, culture slides, culture dishes, broken capillary tubes, broken rigid plastic, and exposed ends of dental wires
    • Materials which require a permit from USDA or CDC: contact DEHS to verify transportation requirements
     

    The following materials are NOT considered hazardous for purposes of ground transportation:

    • Patient specimens that do not contain a pathogen or that contain a Risk Group 1 pathogen
    • Biological products that do not contain a pathogen or that contain a Risk Group 1 pathogen
    • Blood or organs collected for transfusion or transplant
    • A material that previously contained an infectious substance that has been treated by steam sterilization, chemical disinfection, or other appropriate method, so it no longer meets the definition of an infectious substance
    • Environmental microbiological samples collected to evaluate occupational and residential exposure risks
    • DNA, RNA, or protein samples from biosafety level 1 organisms
    • Cell lines which are not known to be infected with Risk Group 2 or 3 agents
     
  3. If the material is NOT considered hazardous per DOT:
  4. Use the following procedures to transport samples which do NOT meet the DOT definition of hazardous materials:

    • All materials must be transported and stored in a secondary container to prevent breakage. A secondary container must be capable of containing the materials if the primary container breaks or leaks. Absorbent materials must be included in the secondary container to absorb any liquids. Cushion the materials to prevent container breakage.
    • Small amounts of biological materials in sealed containers can be transported in a cooler with a latching lid. The cooler will act as the approved secondary container. Inside this cooler must be enough absorbent or cushioning to prevent shifting during transport. The cooler must also be secured to prevent it from sliding or toppling during transport.
    • Include on the cooler or container a sheet listing the materials being transported and the below-listed emergency phone numbers. Keep a copy with the driver as well.
    • It is best if the materials can be transported within the trunk if the vehicle has one. It is also recommended, though not required, that a university vehicle be used for the transportation. For security and safety purposes minimize stops along the route.
    • It is prudent to carry a cell phone in case of any problems or emergencies along the way. If there is a problem during transport, contact the Department of Environmental Health & Safety (DEHS) during normal business hours at 302-831-8475. After normal hours contact DEHS via Public Safety at 302-831-2222.
     
  5. If the material is considered hazardous per DOT:
  6. A state agency or local jurisdiction that transports biological materials for its own use, using its own personnel and state-owned vehicles, is exempt from the DOT regulations as long as the material is not shipped for commerce, it remains within the state, and it is packaged according to these procedures. The University of Delaware must comply with the DOT regulations if it offers biological materials to a non-governmental carrier (by motor vehicle, aircraft, rail, or vessel) or transports these materials in "furtherance of a commercial enterprise".

    This procedure states the requirements for the packaging and transport of biologicals in a manner that will minimize the threat of release via container breakage during transport. Biological materials which are considered hazardous cannot be transported in privately owned or personal vehicles. All transport must be in a University of Delaware vehicle by a university employee. Biological materials can only be transported for the purposes of conducting research, field investigations, educational purposes and other official university business.

    • All materials must be transported and stored in a secondary container to prevent breakage. A secondary container is capable of containing the materials if the primary container breaks or leaks. Absorbent materials must be included in the secondary container to absorb any liquids. Cushion the materials to prevent container breakage.
    • Small amounts of biological materials in sealed containers can be transported in a cooler with a latching lid. The cooler will act as the approved secondary container. Inside this cooler must be enough absorbent or cushioning to prevent shifting during transport. The cooler must also be secured to prevent it from sliding or toppling during transport.
    • Include on the cooler or container a sheet listing the name of the suspected infectious agent(s) or materials being transported and the below-listed emergency phone numbers. Keep a copy with the driver as well.
    • To transport materials on dry ice, you must have completed the DOT Dry Ice Shipping Training within the previous 2 years. The training is available online through EHS Assistant at ehs.facil.udel.edu:1569/. Package the samples as listed above in a sealed primary container and a secondary container which will contain the material if the original container were to break or leak. Place the samples, in their secondary container, in a Styrofoam lined sturdy cardboard box containing the dry ice. Tape the box shut.
    • It is best if the materials can be transported within the trunk if the vehicle has one. For security and safety purposes minimize stops along the route.
    • It is prudent to carry a cell phone in case of any problems or emergencies along the way. If there is a problem during transport, contact the Department of Environmental Health & Safety (DEHS) during normal business hours at 302-831-8475. After normal hours contact DEHS via Public Safety at 302-831-2222.

Questions regarding shipment or transportation issues may be addressed to Krista Murray or call 831-1433.