Shipping Biological Material

Intramural Transport of Biological Material 
When transporting biohazardous materials on Princeton’s campus, take precautions to prevent accidental spills, particularly in public areas of campus buildings and exterior walkways.
  • Transport biohazardous material in a rigid primary (specimen) container that is leak-proof and secured with a tight-fitting cap.
  • Place the primary container(s) in a secondary transport container that is also sealed and labeled with a biohazard symbol. The secondary container must be sturdy enough to remained closed in case the container is dropped.
  • Add sufficient absorbent to the second container to take up contents of the first container in case of a spill or leakage.
  • Carry a pair of clean disposable exam gloves with you when transporting biohazardous materials.
  • Avoid transporting materials through eating areas or break rooms.
  • The Institutional Biosafety Committee and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee must approve of intramural transport of experimentally-infected animals.
  • Recommended secondary container for test tubes/vials:
    • Less expensive options include Plano tackle, ammunition or field boxes with O-ring seals, available at various sporting goods stores and through Amazon.
Gasketed container for intraumural transport of biohazards
Shipment of Biological Material 

The shipment of items considered to be "Dangerous Goods" is regulated by international and national regulators.  If you need to ship any of the following materials, request assistance from EHS staff, who are trained to classify and prepare Dangerous Goods for shipment.  Persons who have not been trained and offer dangerous goods for shipment are subject to significant penalties and fines.

  • Infectious Substances: materials known or reasonably expected to contain an animal or human pathogen.  Pathogens can include bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, parasites, fungi, prions and recombinant microorganisms/viruses which can cause disease in human or animals. Infectious substances are divided into two Categories:
    • Category A:  Infectious substance transported in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals.  An exposure occurs when an infectious substance is released outside of the protective packaging, resulting in physical contact with humans or animals.    A list of Category A infectious substances can be found here.  Category A substances.pdf.
    • Category B: an infectious substance that does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A, is referred to as a Biological Substance. Examples of Category B infectious substances include:  adenovirus, Vibrio cholerae, Herpes Simplex Virus-1.   Contact the Biosafety Officer if you are unsure if the material you are shipping falls into Category B Infectious Substances.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) or microorganisms in which genetic material (GMMO) has been purposely altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur naturally.  GMOs and GMMOs may also be considered infectious substances.
  • Patient specimens are materials collected from humans or animals, including but not limited to blood, tissues, secreta, excreta and body parts being transported for purposes such as research, diagnosis, investigational activities, disease treatment and prevention.  Patient specimens that are not expected to be infectious are exempt from the regulations.  They must be labled as exempt human or exempt animal speciment and must be shipped in triple packaging, as described in the Biosafety Manual.   The decision to consider a specimen exempt from the regulations is based on professional judgment, which should take into consideration the circumstances of the source, including endemic local conditions and medical history if known.  For example,  an animals specimen can be considered Infectious Substance, Category A, if it is known or reasonably suspected of containing a pathogen that can cause permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals.

If the material you plan to ship falls into any of the above categories and you are not trained as a "Dangerous Goods" shipper, request assistance from EHS staff, who can categorize, prepare and label your package properly, usually within 48 hours upon receipt of your request.