Indoor Air Quality Considerations for Laboratory Animals in Wildfire-Impacted Regions—A Pilot Study

Adam Schuller, Ethan S. Walker, Jaclyn M. Goodrich, Matthew Lundgren, Luke Montrose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Wildfire events are increasing across the globe. The smoke generated as a result of this changing fire landscape is potentially more toxic than air pollution from other ambient sources, according to recent studies. This is especially concerning for populations of humans or animals that live downwind of areas that burn frequently, given that ambient exposure to wildfire smoke cannot be easily eliminated. We hypothesized that a significant indoor air pollution risk existed for laboratory animal facilities located proximal to fire-prone areas. Here, we measured real time continuous outdoor and indoor air quality for 28 days at a laboratory animal facility located in the Rocky Mountain region. We demonstrated that during a wildfire event, the indoor air quality of this animal facility is influenced by ambient smoke events. The daily average indoor fine particulate matter value in an animal room exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s ambient annual standard 14% of the time and exceeded the World Health Organization’s ambient annual guideline 71% of the time. We further show that specialized cage filtration systems are capable of mitigating air pollution penetrance and could improve an animal’s microenvironment. The potential effects for laboratory animal physiology that occur in response to the exposure levels and durations measured in this study remain to be determined; yet, even acute wildfire exposure events have been previously correlated with significant differences in gene regulatory and metabolic processes in vivo. We believe these findings warrant consideration for indoor laboratory animal facility air quality monitoring and development of smoke exposure prevention and response protocols, especially among facilities located downwind of fire-prone landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number387
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • air quality
  • lab animal
  • wildfire smoke


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