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It is requested that samples are not sent ad hoc without notifying the Cellular Pathology Electron Microscopy Lead BMS or other, previously agreed, members of MFT electron microscopy staff.

It is also requested that no more than approximately 5 samples are sent in any single batch. Excessive batching of samples is discouraged as this can cause demanding spikes in workload, particularly if priority samples are included. Where samples arrive in batches of 6 or more, the turnaround time cannot be guaranteed for all samples within it.

All packages should be addressed to:

Electron Microscopy
1st Floor
Clinical Sciences Building 1
Manchester Royal Infirmary
Oxford Road
M13 9WL


It is a legal requirement that all diagnostic samples carried on the public road must be packaged and transported in compliance with The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2011. These regulations set into UK Law the directives of the European ADR (“Accord européen relatif au transport international des marchandises dangereuses par route”) agreement concerning the carriage of dangerous goods by road. Under these regulations, it is the sender’s responsibility to ensure that they are complied with.

Paragraph of the ADR (2015) states that: “Human or animal specimens for which there is a minimal likelihood that pathogens are present are not subject to ADR if the specimen is carried in a packaging which will prevent any leakage and which is marked with the words “Exempt human specimen” or “Exempt animal specimen.”

The MFT Cellular Pathology EM Service holds the position that this paragraph applies to all EM samples sent to it on condition that phosphate buffer (since phosphate buffer is a non-hazardous substance) is the transport medium and that all samples have been fixed in glutaraldehyde (as this will cause any pathogens present in the sample to be inactivated) .

Therefore, if these two conditions are met, all packages containing samples sent to the MFT Cellular Pathology EM Service should be clearly labelled with the words: EXEMPT HUMAN SPECIMEN.

Paragraph continues to clarify that the packaging is deemed to comply with the requirement of “preventing any leakage” only if it meets the following conditions:

  1. The packaging consists of three components:
    1. a leak-proof primary receptacle(s)
    2. a leak-proof secondary packaging; and
  • an outer packaging of adequate strength for its capacity, mass and intended use and with at least one surface having minimum dimensions of 100mm x 100mm;
  1. For liquids, absorbent material in sufficient quantity to absorb the entire contents is placed between the primary receptacle(s) and the secondary packaging so that, during carriage, any release or leak of a liquid substance will not reach the outer packaging and will not compromise the integrity of the cushioning material;
  2. When multiple fragile primary receptacles are placed in a single secondary packaging, they are either individually wrapped or separated to prevent contact between them.

Therefore, in addition to the “Exempt human specimen” labelling, service users must ensure these ‘leakage prevention’ requirements are met.


Unless there are pre-existing local area lab-to-lab transport arrangements in place between MFT Laboratory Medicine and the sender’s laboratory, the sender is responsible for specimen transport arrangements. Where lab-to-lab transport exists, arrangements to use this mode of transport should be made.

Samples should be sent to arrive within laboratory opening hours to minimise the risk of undelivered or misplaced samples.


(Last reviewed January 2023)