Transport of biological specimens and chemical products

Many chemicals and biological specimens are classified as dangerous goods. Transportation of dangerous goods is strictly regulated by Swedish and international law.

Below are some of the issues that need to be addressed before shipment or transport of scientific samples. Both in terms of internal and external transport.

Internal transport

This information applies to indoor transport through public areas and on walkways within the campus area. For transports between Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital via public roads, ADR rules apply, see External transport.

Transportation of biological specimens and chemical products must always be performed in a safe way for both people and the environment. This is ensured by including risk assessment of eventual transports of biological/chemical products in the local risk assessment.

Transport through public areas

Public areas are, for example, open entrance floor, stairwell, culvert, skyway or lifts where many people are in motion. When transporting through these areas, an extended risk assessment should be carried out, taking the following into account:

  • Avoid passing through areas with a high flow of people or where a lot of people are staying
  • Minimize the amount of biological material and chemical products being transported.
  • Adapt the route and time when transporting large quantities.
  • Personal protective equipment must not be worn in public areas. This should not be needed as transport packaging must be clean from contamination on the outside.
  • The material must be packed so that leakage / spillage is prevented even if the packaging is dropped. For guidance, see the document "How to Pack Specimens Correctly", found under “Documents”.

External transport

KI provides a daily shuttle service of scientific samples between Karolinska hospital/Campus Solna and Karolinska hospital/Campus Flemingsberg. The service is free of charge for all employees and students at KI.

For more information, see Scientific Sample Shuttle.

Definition of dangerous goods

Substances and articles that have dangerous properties and that can, if not handled correctly during transport, cause harm to people, environment or property are classified as dangerous goods. Examples of dangerous properties are:

  • ​Explosive, flammable and/or corrosive chemicals
  • Toxic and/or infectious substances

Instructions for how to find out whether a chemical or biological specimen is classified as dangerous goods can be found in the document "How to know whether your sample is classified as dangerous goods" .

High consequence dangerous goods

There are also particularly sensitive goods, so-called high consequence dangerous goods. Since these types of substances have the potential to cause harm in society by misuse, they need to be handled in such a way that they cannot be easily stolen. Therefore, there is a special security plan that describes routines for these transports (available under Documents).

At KI, this may apply to certain infectious substances. You can see which ones it applies to in the document List of category A substances at the bottom of this page. These can not be sent with the Scientific Sample Shuttle. If you need to send substances/samples in category A, KI's safety adviser for transport of dangerous goods (contact information below) must be contacted for further information and training.

The sender's obligation

Legislations, such as ADR for transport on roads, RID for railway transport and IATA for air transport, regulate and provide instructions for the safe transportation of dangerous goods. The ADR rules apply on public roads. Transports within the same campus (for example, pedestrian lanes) are exempted from ADR.

It is the sender’s obligation to ensure correct classification, packaging and labelling, including UN number and applicable warning diamonds, of the dangerous goods. The sender is further obliged to provide the shipping agent/transport firm with transport documentation, that is, a complete goods declaration and sender/receiver information.

The sender must also ensure that the shipping agent/transport firm holds a license for transportation of dangerous goods.

Global transport services

Five licensed shipping agents/transport firms are included in the KI framework agreement for transport of dangerous goods. For more information see "Global transportservices".

The commuter bus

The commuter bus has NO license for transport of dangerous goods. The only type of scientific sample allowed on the commuter bus is "Exempt human/animal specimens", (see description in document "How to know whether your sample is classified as dangerous goods"), provided that the sample is packed and labelled according to the instructions and that someone rides with the package to the destination.

Please note that both dry ice and liquid nitrogen are classified as dangerous goods and may therefore NOT be transported with the bus.


Contact the safety adviser of transport of dangerous goods at Stenarecycling, Patrik Klettner Carlsson, if you have questions.

Contact information to Patrik: phone: 0725-690 611 or e-mail:

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