The shipping process

Using hazardous materials is an integral part of research at Iowa State University. Sometimes, it is necessary to ship these hazardous materials to a colleague, another research facility, a field research site, or the manufacturer.  Hazardous materials may include such items as:

  • Laboratory chemicals
  • Radioactive materials
  • Compressed gases
  • Biological agents
  • Diagnostic specimens
  • Animal or human tissues, blood, serum, etc.
  • Equipment or instruments that contain hazardous materials
  • Lithium batteries
  • Dry ice

When UPS, FedEx, or another commercial carrier offers these materials for transport, that shipment is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and/or international agencies (IATA, ICAO).

To comply with shipping regulations, these materials must be properly classified, packaged, documented, and handled by trained employees. Failure to meet these regulatory requirements may result in citations, fines, and/or imprisonment. Fines can range from $250 to $250,000 per violation.

Review the Hazardous Materials Shipping Guide (PDF), then submit the Hazardous Materials Shipping Form. EH&S will assist you with package selection, material classification, and documentation. 

More information

ISU employees who ship hazardous materials must take the following online course in Workday Learning. Training must be updated every two years. If you need assistance, please contact

When planning to transport or ship RAM off campus, EH&S must be informed to determine the correct shipping conditions, packaging requirements, shipping papers, and complete contamination and radiation exposure measurements. The laboratory is responsible for all costs associated with RAM shipments, including performance packaging and carrier costs.

Authorization to transfer radioactive material from Iowa State University to another facility will only be granted if the recipient is licensed for the material. EH&S must have a copy of the recipient's license on file and approval from the recipient before shipment. To initiate the shipment, EH&S must have the following information:

  • Name of the person or PI sending the material
  • Name of the person receiving the material
  • Facility name and address
  • RSO's name and telephone number at the receiving location
  • Copy of the receiver's RAM license
  • Radionuclide(s) being sent
  • Chemical form of each radionuclide
  • Total activity in mCi for each radionuclide
  • Number of containers in the shipment
  • Telephone numbers of responsible person(s)
  • Any additional biological or chemical hazards
  • Any special conditions, such as dry ice

Hazardous Materials Regulations forbid many items in carry-on and/or checked baggage. This includes chemicals, biological materials, and lithium batteries. Passengers violating these regulations can be fined from $250 to $50,000. Before traveling, ensure all materials in your carry-on/checked baggage are permitted.

Please refer to the information on which materials are forbidden in carry-on and/or checked baggage on the FAA Pack Safe website.

FedEx has advised that all styrofoam coolers containing dry ice must be in a cardboard box.

Styrofoam containers that contain dry ice will not be accepted for shipment at Postal and Parcel unless enclosed in a cardboard box.