Office of Research Assurances

Hazardous Materials Shipping

Patient Specimens


Patient specimens that have a minimal likelihood of containing pathogens are exempt from many shipping requirements. Professional judgement is used to determine if a specimen contains pahtogens and should be based on the patient's medical history, symptoms, local conditions and individual circumstances.

If there is more than a "minimal likelihood" that a patient specimen contains pathogens, it must be shipped as a Category A Infectious Substance (UN2814 or UN2900) or a Category B Infectious Substance (UN3373)


Patient specimens unlikely to contain pathogens must be prepared for shipment as follows:

  • Leak-proof container primary container;
  • Leak-proof secondary packaging;
  • Fragile primary containers must be wrapped or separated to prevent breakage;
  • Absorbent material must be placed between the primary and secondary containers to absorb entire contents so that no liquid release will reach the outer packaging; and
  • Outer packaging must be durable enough for its intended use with at least one side 100mm X100mm or more.


The outer package must be marked with "Exempt Human Specimen," or "Exempt Animal Specimen."

Pullman Campus
Office of Research Assurances, P.O. Box 643005, Albrook Rm. 205, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3005
Hazardous Material and Shipping Coordinator: Phone: 509-432-3869, Fax: 509-335-6410