UN3373 & P650 explained
The transport of human or animal materials intended for diagnosis or investigation is regulated by ADR, a UN document which defines how such substances should be classified, packaged and transported.
Are you transporting diagnostic substances safely and legally?
UN guidelines specify how substances should be classified, and how these substances should be packaged for transport. According to these guidelines, biological substances classified as UN3373 should be packaged and transported in line with Packaging Instruction P650.
What is UN3373?
When deciding how to prepare dangerous goods for transport, the first step is to decide which UN number the dangerous goods belong to.
There are four UN numbers that are used for the purposes of classifying infectious or biological substances:
UN2814 – Infectious substances affecting humans
UN2900 – Infectious substances affecting animals
UN3291 – Clinical waste
UN3373 – Diagnostic substances
In the UK, the Health & Safety Executive defines Diagnostic Substances as follows:
"Diagnostic substances, assigned to UN 3373, are human or animal materials that are being transported only for the purpose of diagnosis or investigation. Such materials include excreta, blood and its components, as well as other tissues and fluids. Diagnostic substances do not include live infected animals.
If the source (the patient) is known to have a serious disease that can be readily transmitted and for which effective treatment and preventative measures are not usually available, then the substance must be assigned UN 2814 or UN 2900, as appropriate."
Definitions of the other UN categories can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/cdg/pdf/infect-subs.pdf.
Although known as Diagnostic Substances, the proper shipping name of substances classified as UN3373 are “Biological Substance, Category B”.
What is P650?
If a diagnostic substance has been classified as belonging to UN3373, then it must be packed for transport according to a set of guidelines known as P650, or Packing Instruction 650. This is a list of requirements covering the quality and construction of the packaging used for transport.
Packing Instruction 650 is defined by ADR, the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road. The full text can be found here: http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/adr/adr2015/15contentse.html. Excerpts can be found below.
How can Versapak’s medical transport bags help you to follow the guidelines?
Versapak worked closely with medical transport staff, and in consultation with the Department for Transport (DfT), to develop a range of medical bags that would comply fully with this Packaging Instruction 650 while also being comfortable and user-friendly.
Versapak has supplied bags to approximately two-thirds of NHS hospitals, private hospitals and clinics since launching the approved range. Click here to see our approved bags.
The table below shows excerpts from the ADR Packing Instruction P650 as they relate to the outer packaging, and explains how Versapak’s medical transport bags can help you meet Packing Instruction 650 guidelines.