Allergies among animal handlers are a frequent and common occurrence. One of the more serious problems caused by a work-related allergy is occupational asthma. Both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and OSHA have expressed concerns about the number of animal handlers affected by this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of all asthma sufferers is growing at an alarming rate---it has more than doubled over the last 20 years. According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI), it is estimated that over 10 million people now suffer from the allergic type of asthma, with another 10 million affected by non-allergic asthma.
We recently received questions regarding how to test and improve office air quality, and we have compiled some information for your use. This Advisory discusses the primary sources of indoor air quality problems, gives examples of chemicals and other irritants affecting employees, and describes recommended ventilation rates.
According to OSHA and NIOSH, animal handlers, including veterinarians and veterinary technicians, have an increased risk of developing occupational asthma from exposure to allergens such as animal dander, scales, fur, body wastes, and saliva.
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