Chemical safety in animal care, use, and research.
Chemical safety is an essential element of an effective occupational health and safety program. Controlling exposures to chemical agents requires a careful process of hazard recognition, risk assessment, development of control measures, communication of the risks and control measures, and training to ensure that the indicated controls will be utilized. Managing chemical safety in animal care and use presents a unique challenge, in part because research is frequently conducted in two very different environments--the research laboratory and the animal care facility. The chemical agents specific to each of these environments are typically well understood by the employees working there; however, the extent of understanding may not be adequate when these individuals, or chemicals, cross over into the other environment. In addition, many chemicals utilized in animal research are not typically used in the research laboratory, and therefore the level of employee knowledge and proficiency may be less compared with more routinely used materials. Finally, the research protocol may involve the exposure of laboratory animals to either toxic chemicals or chemicals with unknown hazards. Such animal protocols require careful review to minimize the potential for unanticipated exposures of the research staff or animal care personnel. Numerous guidelines and regulations are cited, which define the standard of practice for the safe use of chemicals. Key chemical safety issues relevant to personnel involved in the care and use of research animals are discussed.
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