Occupational Hygiene

Laboratory Animal Allergens (LAA)

Controlling exposure to hazardous animal allergens

A laboratory technician holding a white rat working to reduce laboratory animal allergens

Laboratory animal allergens (LAA) are an allergic hypersensitivity response which may develop as a result of exposure to animal allergens. The main sources are urine, fur, hair, dander, saliva, droppings and serum.

Typical symptoms include rhinitis, conjunctivitis and skin rashes. The condition may not only affect a person's health but their ability to continue working within an animal laboratory environment.

COSHH Regulations require employers to prevent, or if this is not reasonably practicable, adequately control exposure of employees to hazardous substances, including animal allergens. This will require a review of the work environment and the activities carried out which may expose staff such as animal technicians, scientific staff, students, cleaning and maintenance staff and visitors to LAA.

IOM has experience in assessing exposure to LAA and in advising on improving control measures. For example:

  • Personal and background allergen exposure monitoring to assess the concentration of allergens within the animal facility and to assess current levels of control.
  • Task based exposure monitoring, e.g. cage cleaning, filter changes, animal handling.
  • Airflow measurements to calculate the number of air changes within rooms.
  • Pressure differential measurements to assess whether rooms are at positive or negative pressure.
  • Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) thorough examination and testing.
  • Face fit testing of Respiratory Protective Equipment.
  • Use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
  • Assistance with risk assessment requirements.
  • Auditing assessments and safe systems of work.

For more information on controlling the exposure of laboratory animal allergens, please contact us.