Occupational mouse allergen exposure among non-mouse handlers.

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Air-Pollutants-Occupational, Air-Pollution-Indoor, Allergens, Animal-Husbandry, Animal-Technicians, Animals-Laboratory, Cohort-Studies, Environmental-Monitoring, Humans, Hypersensitivity, Inhalation-Exposure, Mice, Middle-Aged, Occupational-Diseases, Occupational-Exposure, Questionnaires, Research-Personnel, Skin-Tests, Spirometry, Young-Adult

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J Occup Environ Hyg 2010 Dec; 7(12):726-34.


This study assessed mouse allergen exposure across a range of jobs, including non-mouse handling jobs, at a mouse facility. Baseline data from 220 new employees enrolled in the Jackson Laboratory (JAXCohort) were analyzed. The baseline assessment included a questionnaire, allergy skin testing, and spirometry. Exposure assessments consisted of collection of two full-shift breathing zone air samples during a 1-week period. Air samples were analyzed for mouse allergen content, and the mean concentration of the two shifts represented mouse allergen exposure for that employee. The mean age of the 220 participants was 33 years. Ten percent reported current asthma and 56% were atopic. Thirty-eight percent were animal caretakers, 20% scientists, 20% administrative/support personnel, 10% materials/supplies handlers, and 9% laboratory technicians. Sixty percent of the population handled mice. Eighty-two percent of study participants had detectable breathing zone mouse allergen, and breathing zone mouse allergen concentrations were 1.02 ng/m(3) (0.13-6.91) (median [interquartile range (IQR)]. Although mouse handlers had significantly higher concentrations of breathing zone mouse allergen than non-handlers (median [IQR]: 4.13 ng/m(3) [0.69-12.12] and 0.21 ng/m(3) [below detection (BD)-0.63], respectively; p < 0.001), 66% of non-handlers had detectable breathing zone mouse allergen. Mouse allergen concentrations among administrative/support personnel and materials/supplies handlers, jobs that generally do not entail handling mice, were median [IQR]: 0.23 ng/m(3) [BD-0.59] and 0.63 ng/m(3) [BD-18.91], respectively. Seventy-one percent of administrative/support personnel, and 68% of materials/supplies handlers had detectable breathing zone mouse allergen. As many as half of non-mouse handlers may have levels of exposure that are similar to levels observed among mouse handlers.

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