Typically, air transport regulations are the most restrictive and the packaging specifications are the most rigorous. Shippers who comply with the air transport regulations also will meet the requirements of other transport modes. While there are some differences between the regulations for transport by air and by other modes (truck, rail, etc.), the vast majority of diagnostic specimens in the United States are packaged to comply with air transport requirements. Here, we have summarized the regulations of both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) into a single set of requirements. In cases where there are differences in meaning, we have used the more restrictive language.
Transport Packaging for UN 3373 Substances
Any packaging for biological substances must include three components:
A primary receptacle: the tube, vial or other container typically made of glass or rigid plastic (including the stopper, cap or other closure elements) that is in direct contact with the specimen.
A secondary packaging (including cushioning and other materials) that fully encapsulates the primary receptacle. An outer packaging for shipping or transit.
Components must meet specific requirements, including being capable of passing specific test procedures based on receptacle or packaging type. In addition, compliance with the regulations is based, in part, on overall performance; so there can be no substitutions of a component from one manufacturer with a similar – but untested – component from another manufacturer.
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