Laboratory animal worker - common causes of asthma

Animal fur, feathers, dander, dried urine and saliva dusts arise through animal handling and cage or enclosure cleaning. These dusts contain proteins, 'animal aeroallergens', that cause occupational asthma.

Asthma affects workers in many industries handling animals and insects.

Top tips

  • Restrict access to animal areas.
  • You normally need respiratory protective equipment for dusty jobs.
  • Where possible, also use an extracted enclosure.
  • You need regular health surveillance.

Reduce disease - reduce exposure to 'animal aeroallergens'

Dusty jobs include handling laboratory animals, moving and cleaning animal cages, cleaning animal areas, and changing filters for ventilated areas.


Prevent the spread of animal aeroallergens. Provide washing and changing facilities, segregated rest facilities, and good storage for clean and contaminated work clothing. Good design of animal laboratory ventilation and extraction can give effective control of aeroallergen. Can you provide individually ventilated cage (IVC) systems? All systems need regular maintenance and test.

Use Type H vacuum cleaners with a HEPA filter. Do not dry sweep.

Further information


You can find more guidance and information on the Asthma publications (general) pages.

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