Ammonia and carbon dioxide concentrations in disposable and reusable static mouse cages

Jerald Silverman, David W Bays, Stephen P Baker
Lab Animal 2009, 38 (1): 16-23
The value of a static mouse cage is partially determined by the cage's ability to dissipate carbon dioxide and ammonia. The authors compared the concentrations of ammonia and carbon dioxide produced by mice housed in two types of static isolator cages: a newly introduced disposable cage and a conventional reusable cage. Female mice were housed in three disposable and three reusable cages (n = 5 per cage). After 7 d, groups that were housed in disposable cages were rehoused in fresh reusable cages and vice versa. Intracage carbon dioxide, ammonia, temperature and relative humidity were measured daily. Overall, there were no significant differences in carbon dioxide or ammonia concentrations between the cage types. Within 30 min of placing mice in cages, carbon dioxide concentrations rose to more than 10,000 ppm in both cage types and rarely dropped below 8,000 ppm during both phases of the study. Ammonia concentrations rose slowly until day 4 and then began to rise rapidly. The maximum average ammonia concentration was 710 ppm. There was a highly significant relationship between increasing levels of humidity and ammonia production in the disposable cages (r = 0.88). For the reusable cages, the correlation was not as strong (r = 0.68). Both cage types were similar in their ability to dissipate carbon dioxide and ammonia. The suggested frequency of cage changing can only be estimated; on the basis of existing literature, it seems prudent to change cages when the ammonia concentration reaches 50 ppm.

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