Packaging according to the German Hazardous Goods Ordinance

Transport of infectious substances (materials which are known or suspected to contain pathogens) as well as clinical wastes and diagnostic samples is regulated under the German Hazardous Goods Ordinance in conjunction with the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR). Detailed regulations on how to classify the materials and on the packaging can be found in the ADR.

When shipping (potentially) infectious samples as “exempt animal specimen” or as “Biological substance, Category B” (“UN 3373”), the packaging regulations described in the following chapters have to be obeyed. The samples must be labelled accordingly. For samples of Category B, the label must indicate “Biological substance, Category B” and “UN 3373”; while the specification “UN 3373” needs to be in a rhomb of at least 5 cm x 5 cm of size.

An exempt animal specimen is a patient sample for which there is minimal likelihood that pathogens are present (e. g. blood and blood components).

Classification must depend on professional judgement which is based on the anamnesis, the symptoms, the patient’s individual circumstances and local endemic conditions.

In case of doubt, it is recommended to ship as infectious substance of Category B.

For any other material, exemptions signify that the substances are not subject to the provisions of ADR (unless they meet the criteria for inclusion in another dangerous goods class). This is, for instance, true for:

  • - dried blood, collected by applying a drop of blood onto absorbent material,
  • - materials where the concentration of pathogens is at a level naturally occurring in the environment (including water samples) and which are not considered to pose a significant risk of infection,
  • - substances in a form that any present pathogens have been neutralized or inactivated in a way that they no longer pose a health risk.

However, for these samples, too, it is recommended to use the packaging subsequently described because of the high safety standard (e. g. density).