Laboratory researchers are exposed to a number of potential biological risks, including one that is often overlooked – animal allergens. We at Contained Air Solutions Ltd (CAS) supply a range of laminar air flow solutions which provide protection during animal experiments. Our class 1 safety cabinet is the ideal choice where protection of personnel and the environment are the primary concern; for example, the dosing and weighing of animals. Available in larger sizes for cage changing and other specialist tasks, it protects the user by drawing room air towards the front aperture and across the working area. The contaminated air is then exhausted through a HEPA-filter, ensuring it is free from microorganisms and other contaminants. As with a class 2 laminar air flow cabinet, both recirculating and exhaust models are available.
The Benefits of Using A Class 1 Cabinet
A class 2 laminar air flow cabinet offers a sterile working area as well as protection against air-borne contaminants and is widely used in microbiology and clinical research labs. However, in the bustling environment of the animal research laboratory, a class 1 bio-hazard booth may be a more reliable solution, so long as product sterility is not a concern.
A class 2 biosafety cabinet uses a complex combination of inward and downward airflow, coupled with HEPA-filtration, to create a barrier against contamination. However, its performance is easily compromised by sudden air movements, such as those caused by animals and the people handling and dosing them. A class 1 cabinet is far less likely to be affected.
Unseen Hazards in The Animal House
Biological safety is a big issue where laboratory animals are used for disease research. However, the risks associated with oncogenic viruses, recombination DNA, Ebola and other deliberately introduced hazards are well defined, with tight controls in place to protect staff. Laboratory workers will be familiar with the disease characteristics of deliberately infected animals, and will take active steps to avoid contamination. Of more concern is the worker who assumes the animals under his or her care pose no risk at all.
Laboratory animals can act as natural hosts for a great many pathogens, including zoonoses (vectors transmissible to man). As well as affecting the health of personnel and other animals, these can permeate laboratory breeding stocks and render experimental results invalid. Strict Home Office and COHSS (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations have ensured the risks from both deliberately and naturally infected animals are kept under control, but there is another hazard that must not be forgotten – that of animal allergies.
Laboratory Animal Allergies
LAA, or laboratory animal allergy syndrome is a widely recognized occupational health hazard, caused by hypersensitivity to the proteins found in the urine, dander, fur, skin and saliva of birds and mammals used in research. In their aerosolized form, these allergens can cause a range of symptoms, from mild rhinitis to life-threatening asthma.
While LAA can never be eliminated, it can be controlled. Wearing protective equipment and ensuring the room’s air handling system is working correctly are good examples of this control. A class 1 safety cabinet or its equivalent is recommended for all procedures involving the dosing or manipulating of animals.