(Refer to Standard 6A in Requirements for Medical Pathology Services)
3.1 PackagingFor transport of all pathology specimens and associated materials by air or surface transport methods, the packaging must consist of three components:
- primary receptacle
- secondary packaging
- outer packaging.
This is also known as triple packaging.
3.2 Labelling and markingThe IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations describe the markings and, if required, the labels required on packages for air transport (see Figure 3.1).
The Australian Standard Packaging for surface transport of biological material that may cause disease in humans, animals and plants describes the minimum marking required on packages for surface transport.
If dry ice or nitrogen refrigerants are used during transport, their presence must be indicated.
3.3 DocumentationDocumentation required by a transporter or operator should be accessible without opening the package.
Packages for or from overseas destinations must be accompanied by the necessary documentation, including customs and/or quarantine permits. A check of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service website may be necessary to review the latest relevant information.
3.4 Choosing the mode of transport
The packaging required for pathology specimens depends on the mode of transport that is to be used, and therefore can vary.
There are many questions to consider when choosing the mode of transport for pathology specimens, including:
- Should the specimens be kept cold or frozen?
- Are the specimens being sent within Australia and to whom?
- Collection centre to laboratory?
- Doctor’s surgery to laboratory?
- Laboratory to laboratory?
- Within hospital (i.e. from ward to laboratory)?
- Externally from one part of a hospital campus to another?
- Are the samples being sent overseas?
- What packaging is required to send these samples safely?
- What paperwork or documentation is needed?
- Are there additional hazards such as chemicals (flammable, acid or other substance), dry ice, liquid nitrogen, etc.?
The following matrix (Table 3.1) may assist the user to determine the most suitable method for packaging a specimen according to the mode of transport that is necessary. Table 3.2 summarises air transport requirements.
Table 3.1 Matrix for determining mode of general packaging requirements for biological material by various modes of transport
|Mode of transport||Hazard class of specimen|
(UN 2814) (UN 2900)
|Hazard class of specimen|
|Hazard class of specimen|
|Commercial air (cargo only)||Appendix 5||Appendix 6||Appendix 7|
|Commercial air (passenger and cargo)||Appendix 5||Appendix 6||Appendix 7|
|Commercial road courier||Appendix 4||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|Foot through public space||Appendix 3||Appendix 3||Appendix 3|
|General carrier (truck)||Not recommended||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|In-house road courier||Appendix 4||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|Multiple||As for the most stringent mode||As for the most stringent mode||As for the most stringent mode|
|Passenger air, hand luggage or checked baggage||Not permitted||Not permitted||Appendix 7|
|Pneumatic tube||NS||Appendix 3||Appendix 3|
|Post (domestic only)||Not permitted||Appendix 8||Appendix 9|
|Post (international)||Not permitted||Not permitted||Appendix 9|
|Private vehicle||Appendix 4||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|Public transport (e.g. bus)||Not recommended||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|Rail||Appendix 4||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|Ship/ferry||Appendix 4||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|Taxi||Not recommended||Appendix 4||Appendix 4|
|Unknown||Not permitted||Not permitted||Appendix 7|
Note: For any air transport leg where dry ice is used, see also Appendix 10
NS = Not suitable; UN = United Nations
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Table 3.2 Summary of air transport requirements
|Shipment type||Proper shipping name||UN or ID number||IATA class||IATA Packing Instruction||Packing group||Max net quantity/pkg for passenger aircraft||Max net quantity/pkg for cargo aircraft||Label|
|Biological Substance, Category B||Biological substance, Category B||UN 3373||Hazard Class 6.2||650||—||4 L or 4 kg||4 L or 4 kg||UN 3373 mark|
|Cytology liquid-based vials not containing any specimen||Flammable liquid, n.o.s., (contains methanol)||Hazard Class 3|
|Dry ice||Dry ice, or|
carbon dioxide, solid
|UN 1845||Hazard Class 9||904||Packing group III||2.5 kg in aircraft cabin, 200 kg in hold||200 kg||Miscellaneous (Hazard Class 9)|
|Exempt||Exempt human substance or exempt animal substance||No limit||No limit|
|Formalin <25%||Not restricted|
|Infectious Substance, Category A, affecting animals only||Infectious substance, affecting animals||UN 2900||Hazard Class 6.2||602||50 mL or 50 g||4 L or 4 kg||Infectious Substance (Hazard Class 6.2)|
|Infectious Substance, Category A, affecting humans, or humans and animals||Infectious substance, affecting humans||UN 2814||Hazard Class 6.2||602||—||50 mL or 50 g||4 L or 4 kg||Infectious Substance|
(Hazard Class 6.2)
|Lyophilised (freeze-dried) substances||Must be classified according to contents||Primary receptacles for lyophilised substances must be either flame-sealed glass ampoules or glass vials with rubber stoppers|
Adapted from the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (2005)
IATA = International Air Transport Association; ID = identification; n.o.s. = not otherwise specified; UN = United Nations
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