Transporting Biological Materials

This guideline applies to transport of biological materials between buildings, or between laboratories within the same building on campus. Accidents during transportation can potentially result in release of biological materials and cause serious harm. If you need to transport biological materials on public roads, you must comply with US Department of Transportation regulations. Laboratory personnel must properly package, transport, and handle any infectious substances which are used in their research. Proper labeling using the universal biohazard symbol and lab identification information is also required.

Biological material MUST be transported in a tightly closed and secured leak-proof primary container (e.g., conical tubes secured with a screw cap) and placed in a durable leak-proof (tight-fitting lid) secondary container labeled with a biohazard symbol. If the biological material cannot be transferred in leak-proof screw-cap tubes, use parafilm to ensure primary containment is obtained.

Transport between university labs or buildings through public areas

  • Spray secondary container with 70% ethanol
  • When transporting biological materials always take care when moving through public spaces.
  • Do not wear gloves in public access areas

Examples of secondary containers:


Biohazard container
Lunch box with biohazard stickers
Biohazard in lunch box


For additional information, contact the Office of Research Safety:

  Telephone: 202-994-8258

  Email: [email protected]


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