Background Exposure to allergens, both in general and occupational environments, is known to result in sensitisation and exacerbation of allergic diseases, while endotoxin exposure might protect against allergic diseases. This may be important for veterinarians and co-workers. However, exposure levels are mostly unknown.
Objective We investigated the allergen and endotoxin exposure levels of veterinary medicine students and workers in a companion animal hospital.
Methods Airborne and surface dust was collected using various sampling methods at different locations. Allergen levels in extracts were measured with sandwich ELISAs and/or the multiplex array for indoor allergens (MARIA). Endotoxin was determined by limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) assay.
Results Fel d 1 (Felis domesticus), Can f 1 (Canus familiaris) and endotoxin were detected in all except stationary samples. The geometric mean (GM) level of personal inhalable dust samples for Fel d 1 was 0.3 ng/m3 (range: below lower limit of detection (<LOD) to 9.4), for Can f 1 3.6 ng/m3 (<LOD to 73.3) and for endotoxin 4.4 EU/m3 (<LOD to 75). Exposure levels differed significantly between job titles, with highest allergen exposure for student assistants in the intensive care unit (Fel d 1, GM 1.5 ng/m3; Can f 1, GM 18.5 ng/m3), and highest endotoxin exposure for students (GM 10.1 EU/m3). Exposure levels in dust captured by diverse sampling methods correlated with each other (p<0.05).
Conclusion Allergen exposure likely occurs during veterinary practice, with relatively low endotoxin levels. Future research should investigate dose–response relationship between airborne allergen exposure and health effects.
- exposure assessment
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.