Shipments of Specimens and Chemicals

What are diagnostic specimens?
Diagnostic specimens are any 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 but excluding live infected animals. Diagnostic specimens pose no danger and are not taken from a source where danger is present.

What are biologics or biological products?
Biological products are those derived from living organisms, that are manufactured and distributed in accordance with the requirements of national governmental authorities which may have special licensing requirements, and are used either for prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of disease in humans or animals, or for development, experimental or investigational purposes related thereto. They include, but are not limited to, finished or unfinished products such as vaccines and diagnostic products.

What are some examples of hazardous chemicals?
Some examples of hazardous chemicals include liquid nitrogen, propane, formaldehyde, and formalin.

What are dangerous goods and hazardous materials?
Dangerous/hazardous goods are articles or substances, which are capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety, property or the environment. One example of a hazardous material is dry ice.

What are infectious substances?
Infectious substances are substances known to contain, or reasonably expected to contain, pathogens. Pathogens are defined as micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, rickettsia, parasites, fungi) or recombinant micro-organisms (hybrid or mutant) that are known or reasonably expected to cause infectious disease in humans or animals. Infectious substances are capable of spreading disease when exposure to them occurs.

What are bio-hazardous materials?
Bio-hazardous materials are materials that may or may not be infectious. These include but are not limited to blood, urine, tissue and tissue fluids.

Are there special safety protocols that must be considered when packing hazardous materials?
Yes. Packing of specimens and chemicals require special safety protocols by certified officials. These officials have received certification and authorization through specialized training from the Occupational Safety and Health Branch. For more information and training schedules regarding handling of hazardous material, call the Division of Safety at (301) 496-3353.

How and when should I package my shipment if dry ice is required?
Shipments with dry ice should be sent to the Freight Forwarding Section early in the week and early in the day (by 10:30 am), especially for shipments that will require more than one day's shipping time. When it comes to shipping with dry ice, there are some important things that you should consider including:

  1. Is my shipment properly packed? Dry ice must be in packaging designed and constructed to prevent the release of carbon dioxide gas and to prevent a build up of pressure that could rupture the packaging.
  2. Am I including enough dry ice with my shipment so that it maintains its integrity throughout the duration of the transport?
  3. Is my dry ice container properly sealed and labeled?
  4. Did I mark my shipment form properly stating that it is a hazardous shipment because dry ice is hazardous?

Is there more I should know about shipping specimens and chemicals?
Yes. This information can be found in Sections 2a, 2b, and 3b of manual issuance 26101-42-F - Standard Shipping Policies and Procedures. NIH Manual Chapter 1340-1 Permits for Import or Export of Biological Materials sets forth the requirements and procedures for obtaining permits for the importation or shipment of etiologic agents, their vectors, animals and plants, and for the exportation of biological materials.