using dry ice for shipping blood samples: what you need to know
Strict requirements govern the transport of any liquid blood products. Since any blood samples may contain infectious elements, the insulated packaging prevents the transporters from being exposed to potentially hazardous samples.
Guidelines for packaging of liquid blood samples are designed to avoid contamination. To this end, the United Nations has established universal packaging protocols for shipping biological materials.
FedEx requires that the primary container for frozen blood samples must be a watertight receptacle with a leak-proof seal or stopper, reinforced by a tape closure. The primary container must be wrapped, separated from other specimens, and placed into a secondary leakproof container for further protection. The secondary container may be a plastic canister, screw-top can, sealed, sturdy plastic bag, or a 1” insulated styrofoam container.
Absorbant material is wedged between the primary and secondary containers to protect against excessive movement, shock, or breakage.The outer package must be a hard plastic cooler or container that can withstand significant pressure.
Dry Ice Handling
Packaging blood samples with dry ice has an established history and comes with heavy costs and drawbacks.
Dry ice is hazardous material and must be vented and labeled properly to ship. The dry ice materials should be placed between the outer and secondary packaging to maintain the temperature integrity of the sample while in transit.
Dried Blood Samples: The Modern Alternative
Because of improved techniques and more sensitive lab equipment, dried blood samples can provide the same information as frozen blood samples. Blood spots dried on absorbent pads, specially treated cards, or the absorbent tips of microsampling devices are enclosed in watertight plastic bags and shipped in sturdy envelopes or outer containers.
The sampling process and shipping procedures are easier to manage, and the cost of transport of DBS is about one-tenth the cost of airfreight of frozen blood samples. A minor finger prick will yield enough information to make the necessary medical decisions.