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Lab Anim. 2008 Oct;42(4):442-52. doi: 10.1258/la.2007.007065. Epub 2008 Sep 9.

Use of soft hydrothermal processing to improve and recycle bedding for laboratory animals.

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Institute for Animal Experimentation, Graduate School of Medicine, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.


Cage bedding for laboratory rodents can influence animal wellbeing and thus the experimental data. In addition, a large amount of used bedding containing excrement is discharged as medical waste from life science institutes and breeding companies. We developed a ground-breaking system to improve fresh bedding and recycle used bedding by applying a soft hydrothermal process with high-temperature and high-pressure dry steam. The system removes both harmful organic components and aromatic hydrocarbons that can affect animals' metabolism. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the chemical and physical properties of the improved fresh bedding and the recycled used bedding treated by the system. The results showed that 68-99% of the predominant aromatic hydrocarbons were removed from fresh bedding treated at 0.35 MPa and 140 degrees C for 120 min ('improved bedding'). In addition, 59.4-99.0% of predominant harmful organic compounds derived from excrement were removed from used bedding treated at 0.45 MPa and 150 degrees C for 60 min ('recycled bedding'). The soft hydrothermal treatment increased the number of acidic functional groups on the bedding surface and gave it the high adsorptive efficiency of ammonia gas. Harmful substances such as microorganisms, heavy metals and pesticides decreased below the detection limit. The results clearly showed that the improved and recycled bedding is safer for laboratory rodents and has the potential to ameliorate conditions in primary and secondary enclosures (e.g. cages and animal rooms) used for maintaining laboratory animals. This process may be one of the most advanced techniques in providing an alternative to softwood and other bedding, economizing through the recycling of used bedding and reducing bedding waste from animal facilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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