Packaging, Containment, Absorbent and Labeling (PCAL)

For transport of biological materials around campus


  • A primary container that is designed for the type of material to be held within.


  • A secondary container that will contain all leakage or spillage of materials from primary containers if a rupture occurs.
  • Containers should be leak-proof and capable of being securely closed.


  • Absorbent material (i.e. bench pads, paper towels) to be placed around primary containers if they contain liquids.
  • The quantity of absorbent material should be adequate to absorb all free liquids held in secondary container.


  • Emergency contact information.
  • General description of contents (i.e. "research-related specimens").
  • Biohazard symbol is required if the materials to be transported are classified as BSL-2.

EXAMPLE: Transporting Salmonella culture samples from one building to another and crossing a roadway:

  • Packaged in culture dishes, wrapped in parafilm and placed in a zip lock bag.
  • This bag is then placed in a cooler that has a lid that locks into place. The bags are surrounded by material to keep the dishes in an upright orientation and from moving around during transport.
  • Cooler is labeled with biohazard sticker, contact information, and "culture specimens for research with Salmonella".
  • Cooler is sprayed or wiped down prior to leaving laboratory.
  • Cooler is hand carried - no lab coat or gloves are used when carrying.