(April 24, 2002)

From the World Federation for Culture Collections website

WFCC has received information that irradiation facilities have been /are to be installed by the US Postal Service at some locations in the USA in order to minimise possible bioterrorist attacks. Senders of biological material using the postal mail should therefore be aware of possible risks due to random or routine irradiation of their biological material when in transit. Harmless biological material which does not present a hazard for humans, animals or the environment (see WHO definition of Risk Group 1) is permitted in letter post by most of the national Postal Authorities world-wide as laid down by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). In order to prevent or minimise destruction or mutational alterations of such biological material and hence losses for scientific research and economy, senders should make advance arrangements as follows, these are recommendations by the WFCC:

  • Documentation: The sender should attach a complete and clear list of contents to the consignment including the scientific name(s) of the organisms sent.
  • Sender’s bonafide declaration: The sender should clearly state (at least on the green customs label) that the organisms enclosed are harmless and NOT regulated as Dangerous Goods.
  • Warning: A sticker with the wording “Please don’t irradiate, harmless biological samples/cultures/microorganisms” or similar should be affixed to the mail.
  • If the destination is close or within a governmental area/district, the sender should make advance arrangements with the consignee or consider using a private courier service.

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