VETERINARY SAFETY AND HEALTH

Chemical Safety

Veterinary medicine and animal care workers are at risk of exposure to many different chemical hazards including glutaraldehyde and other disinfectants, hazardous drugs, latex, pesticides, and waste anesthetic gases. Exposure to these chemicals may occur by dermal contact (touching the skin) and/or inhalation (being breathed in). Splashes may result in chemical contact with the skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.

Overview of Chemical Safety

NIOSH: Chemical Safety in the Workplace

NIOSH Indoor Environmental Quality: Chemicals and Odors

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

OSHA Hazard Communication StandardExternal

ATSDR Toxic Substances Portal

EPA Chemical DashboardExternal

Cover of publication 2010-150

American Association of Poison Control CentersExternal

Ammonia

NIOSH: Ammonia

ATSDR ToxFAQs for Ammonia

Carbon Monoxide

CDC Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

NIOSH Carbon Monoxide

Cleaning Chemicals

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions and all product label precautions.
  • Do not mix different cleaning products; some mixtures produce toxic gases.

OSHA/NIOSH InfoSheet: Protecting Workers Who Use Cleaning ChemicalsCdc-pdfExternal

OSHA/NIOSH Poster: Protect Yourself: Cleaning Chemicals and Your HealthCdc-pdfExternal

Disinfectants

CDC Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008

Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health: DisinfectionExternal

Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health: Veterinarians: Disinfectant ResourcesExternal

Some examples:

Hazardous Drugs

Some examples:

  • Antineoplastic and other hazardous drug exposures may occur when treating animals for cancer and other diseases.
  • Hormones may be a reproductive hazard to female veterinarians.
  • Follow product labels for handling restrictions and proper precautions.
  • Micotil 300®, an injectable macrolide antibiotic, may cause illness or death in people who are exposed through needlestick injuries, skin cuts, puncture wounds, or contact with skin or mucous membranes.
  • Chloramphenicol is banned for large animal use due to the risk of aplastic anemia in humans but is still used in small animals.

NIOSH Hazardous Drug Exposures in Healthcare

NIOSH Workplace Solution: Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs for Veterinary Health Care Workers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2010-150 (2010)
En Español

NIOSH Personal Protective Equipment for Health Care Workers Who Work with Hazardous Drugs
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-106 (2008)

NIOSH Workplace Solutions: Preventing Worker Deaths and Injuries When Handling Micotil 300®
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-124 (2007)

Hydrogen Sulfide

NIOSH Hydrogen Sulfide

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits

Laboratories

OSHA Safety and Health Topic: LaboratoriesExternal

Latex

NIOSH Occupational Latex Allergies

NIOSH Latex Allergy: A Prevention Guide

OSHA Laboratory Safety Latex AllergyCdc-pdfExternal

Micotil 300®

Mictotil 300® is a prescription injectable antibiotic used to treat respiratory disease in cattle and sheep.

FDA Animal Drug Safety Communication: Micotil 300 User Safety Alert; September 2017External

NIOSH Workplace Solutions: Preventing Worker Deaths and Injuries When Handling Micotil 300 (2007)

NIOSH FACE Report: Cattle Rancher Hospitalized After Accidental Injection of Micotil (2005)

NIOSH FACE Report: Cattleman Dies Due to Accidental Injection (2003)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

NIOSH Workplace Solution: Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs for Veterinary Health Care Workers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2010-150 (2010)
En Español

NIOSH Personal Protective Equipment for Health Care Workers Who Work with Hazardous Drugs DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-106 (2008)

NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) Healthcare Respiratory Protection Resources

NIOSH [2005]. NIOSH respirator selection logic 2004 DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005–100.

Pesticides

Pesticide exposures to workers may occur:

  • when treating animals for fleas, ticks, or mites.
  • when working with animals who have been treated with pesticides.

National Pesticide Information CenterExternal

EPA Pesticide Worker SafetyExternal

Phosphine gas

Phosphine gas exposures to workers may occur when treating:

  • animals that have ingested rodenticides containing zinc phosphide
  • animals that have ingested insecticides containing aluminum phosphide

AVMA Phosphine product precautionsExternal

CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): Occupational Phosphine Gas Poisoning at Veterinary Hospitals from Dogs that Ingested Zinc Phosphide – Michigan, Iowa, and Washington, 2006-2011

Waste anesthetic gases

Exposure to nitrous oxide, halothane, isoflurane and other waste anesthetic gases may occur during veterinary dentistry and surgical procedures.

American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists: Control of Waste Anesthetic Gases in the WorkplaceCdc-pdfExternal

OSHA Safety and Health Topic: Waste Anesthetic GasesExternal

NIOSH Nitrous Oxide

NIOSH Waste Anesthetic Gases: Occupational Hazards in Hospitals
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-151 (September 2007)
En Español

Waste Disposal

AVMA Waste Disposal by Veterinary Practices: What Goes Where?External

AVMA Best Management Practices for Pharmaceutical DisposalExternal

Page last reviewed: March 26, 2018