Laboratory Animal Allergen Control

SafeBridge provides Laboratory Animal Allergen (LAA) occupational health services designed to assist clients in the prevention of health effects as a result of exposure to laboratory animal allergens. Approximately 30 percent of people who work with laboratory animals experience some form of allergic symptoms due to contact with, or inhalation of, animal allergens. Serious symptoms of asthma are developed by approximately 10 percent of those who work with laboratory animals1.

Companies with animal facilities are required to eliminate or control animal allergen exposure within facilities they operate. They also need to have sufficient competence to ensure that control measures are used properly and need to ensure that safe working practices are followed by everyone. Undertaking appropriate risk assessments, designing and delivering suitable facilities and using well-designed occupational health and safety management systems are essential.

SafeBridge’s Laboratory Animal Allergen services include:

Facility Risk Assessments

SafeBridge can assist in identifying potential sources of LAA exposure, undertake qualitative assessments including facility reviews, control measure reviews and assessment of current LAA risk management measures.

Facility Quantitative Occupational Hygiene Monitoring

To establish a baseline for future comparison, it is recommended to conduct quantitative assessments of airborne rat and mouse allergens. SafeBridge can develop sampling plans, coordinate sample analysis, interpret monitoring data, provide recommendations and verify control measures. This can contribute to the development of an LAA Facility Risk Assessment which will identify precautions for work activities in, or associated with, the animal facility, that involves potential exposure to laboratory animal allergens and which can be used to show that risks have been systematically identified, assessed and controlled.

Measuring Exposure

There is currently no standardized method for the measurement of airborne animal allergens. However, validated immunoassay methods have been developed to quantify exposure to rat and mouse allergens in urine and these methods can help to assess the effectiveness of allergen control measures. There are also no regulatory occupational exposure limits (OELs) for animal allergens, but control banding schemes have been established and some companies have set in-house limits. SafeBridge’s toxicology group can help set quantitative limits on request.

Guidance and Technical Support

SafeBridge can provide guidance and training on the hazard assessment, risk management and control of exposure to LAA. This can be used to formulate ‘local rules’ which set out safe working practices and which should be adopted for each work activity. In addition, SafeBridge can provide technical support for questions on risk identification, communication, monitoring airborne levels of allergens, definition and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) including respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and RPE fit testing.

Engineering Project Review

The design of new or the refurbishment of existing animal facilities requires a number of occupational health and safety skills to be brought together. SafeBridge can provide strategic and detailed design support to LAA projects, including hazard assessment, facility layouts, HVAC, worker exposure engineering controls and assessment of equipment control performance.

Occupational Health Crisis Management

As occupational health and safety experts, SafeBridge can provide technical support to recognize, evaluate and control occupational illness associated with exposure to laboratory animal allergens and help resolve worker health effects.

Health Surveillance

SafeBridge can also assist in the establishment of Health Surveillance programs for laboratory animal allergens.

1 Gordon S and Preece R (2003) Prevention of laboratory animal allergy. Occ Med, 53:371-377.