Environmental Control for Mice and Men

Nancy Fetrow and Dave Johnson
Nycomed-Amersham, Wayne, PA, USA

When establishing a state-of-the-art research animal facility, it is important to ensure that design criteria and process-flow are considered to best create a quality environment for the research animals. Points of interest related to physical design are: appropriately sized animal holding rooms; versatility to accommodate various different species; necessary support areas (e.g. cage wash areas, procedure rooms, aseptic surgical facilities, storage, dedicated animal receiving area, etc.); proper air flow; appropriate room air exchange rates; filtration of incoming and exhaust (non-recirculating) air; traffic-flow patterns; appropriate construction materials to promote a clean and easily-sanitized environment; appropriate equipment (e.g. caging) which will meet your needs and fit the facility; and proper temperature and humidity range specific for each species. Additionally, it is imperative that consideration is given to the animals' micro-environment; animal housing/caging size and type is critical in maintaining a healthy research animal. To assure a quality program, it is best to evaluate the research animal program for effectiveness through rigorous animal health monitoring and environmental monitoring programs. Examples of routine environmental monitoring include microbiological sampling of water, chemical and pesticide analysis of water, sanitation of cages, cleaning solutions, room temperature and humidity, air exchange rates and air pressure differential of the rooms. Establishing optimal and critical ranges of these parameters are important so that specific courses of actions can be implemented when these parameters exceed their established ranges.
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