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Health and safety in laboratory animal facilities (Laboratory animal handbooks No 13)

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    Health and safety in laboratory animal facilities (Laboratory animal handbooks No 13). Edited by: m wood, m w smith. (Pp 249; £35.00.) 1999. London, UK: RSM. ISBN 1 85315 421 0.

    This new book contains a wealth of up to date and practical information and advice within a relatively small volume of 249 pages. It follows the earlier Safety in the animal house, published as laboratory animal handbook number 5, in 1981. It is a very welcome addition to the literature on an important subject that is not well covered by other books. As the editors point out, there have been considerable changes in the design and function of animal houses over the past 2 decades. Animal houses are no longer simple holding facilities, they are often complex, with much modern equipment and capable of performing many functions. New concepts and techniques have been introduced into the care of laboratory animals, and legal controls over both health and safety and animal welfare have been greatly developed.

    The book is divided into the following main sections: (1) introduction to health and safety in laboratory animal facilities; (2) allergenic hazards; (3) infectious hazards; (4) genetically modified (transgenic) animals; (5) chemical hazards; (6) radiation safety; (7) safety management; and (8) legal requirements. Each chapter is written by a different expert in the subject, and all are written with clarity and with excellent references lists.

    The introductory chapter provides wide coverage of the subject and would be an excellent starting point for people new to this field. It is written in terms that have general applicability and is full of practical advice and instructions.

    Allergenic hazards covers a very important subject, as laboratory animal allergy is the most widespread occupational health problem of those exposed to these animals. The chapter provides definitions, then goes on to describe epidemiology, diagnosis, and pathogenesis of laboratory animal allergy. The source of allergens from different animals is considered in detail, followed by a section on the measurement of airborne allergens, and finally a section on management and prevention of allergy. The chapter on infectious hazards is very comprehensive. It points out that the risks to users of animal facilities posed by infectious agents are of two kinds: those related to experimental infections; and those due to zoonotic disease. It goes on to describe the categorisation of infectious agents into hazard groups, then considers many examples of both experimental infections and zoonotic infections. The chapter details the infections of primates, rodents and lagomorphs, birds, and farm animals. It then describes measures for containment of infection, the use of safe practices, disinfectants, protective clothing, and vaccination of staff. It concludes with sections on health monitoring and risk assessment.

    The chapter on transgenic animals is an interesting and worthwhile addition, followed by the useful and comprehensive chapters on chemical hazards and radiation. The chapter on safety management will be a particularly welcome guide through this complex subject. It describes the setting up of a safety management structure, then describes good laboratory practice, quality assurance, risk assessment, control of substances hazardous to health, training, documentation, and monitoring. The final chapter, dealing with legal requirements, is also an authoritative guide to the subject. However, unlike the preceding chapters, which are generally applicable, the legal requirements deal specifically with the United Kingdom.

    This book, written and edited by experts with first hand practical knowledge of their subject, can be strongly recommended to all those concerned with laboratory animal facilities.