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Inter-campus transport of biological materials

EH&S has worked with the Office of Risk Management to revise a University policy that previously prohibited inter-campus transport of biological materials by researchers. With the approaching opening of the Jerome Green Science Center and the nature of its extensive collaborations with investigators on the Morningside and Medical Center campuses, there was a need to come up with a pragmatic approach to investigator-mediated inter-campus transport.

Transport is limited to University-owned or contracted vehicles/shuttle buses, licensed taxi cabs or personal vehicles (NOT on public transport such as MTA buses and subways). If transported in personal vehicle, check with your insurance carrier that this activity is covered.

The revised policy permits certain specific classifications of biological materials with low or no risk that are NOT classified as hazardous materials/dangerous goods by the Department of Transportation when transported by road: Exempt human/animal specimen, Non-regulated biological material, Preserved Biologicals and Dry ice are PERMITTED. Category A infectious substances and Biological substance Category B are NOT PERMITTED. Transport of materials containing other dangerous goods (radioactive or chemical hazards) are not permitted.

The policy only pertains to inter-campus transport between Columbia campuses. Investigators should not self-transport their biological materials to and from other institutions. Transport must be direct from campus to campus (no stops or detours). Package must stay in custody of shipper throughout transport and delivered on the same day.

The same rigor should apply to preparing a package for inter-campus transport as one prepared for transport by a professional courier such as FedEx. This includes the requirement that biological materials are triple performance packaged and pose no hazard to other passengers even if the package should break open in transit. Dry ice should be enclosed in a Styrofoam container.

Shipper must bring a pair of disposable nitrile or latex gloves in their pocket or bag. These are to be donned ONLY in the event that the package is compromised, e.g. leaks. They are NOT to be used to carry the package.

A training and certification course must be taken prior to transporting any materials between campuses. The applicable RASCAL training center course is TC0076 - Shipping with Dry Ice, Exempt Specimens and Excepted Quantities of Dangerous Goods.

See table below for specifics and conditions. If you have any questions please contact a biosafety officer (biosafety@columbia.edu).

Bio Transport Chart

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