In 2008 WAIMR celebrates 10 years since its inception and the many by alendar


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									In 2008 WAIMR celebrates 10 years since its inception
and the many internationally-important discoveries which have
transformed it into WA’s premier adult medical research institute.

April 4, 2008

                                        Media Statement


West Australian researchers have voiced concern in light of findings which reveal female
veterinarians who fail to safeguard themselves from x-rays and anaesthetic gases face double
the risk of miscarriage.

The research, published in the most recent edition of the journal Occupational and
Environmental Medicine, was carried out by scientists at the Western Australian Institute for
Medical Research (WAIMR) and The University of Western Australia's School Of Population

WAIMR Associate Professor Lin Fritschi said the study of more than 1,200 female graduates
from Australian veterinary schools over a 40-year period showed that occupational dangers such
as x-rays, anaesthetic gases and pesticides could have a devastating effect on pregnancy and

“The worrying findings showed that female veterinarians exposed to an hour or more of
anaesthetic gases or exposed to pesticides during the course of their duties were twice as likely
to miscarry during pregnancy,” she said.

"We also found that two out of three veterinarians surveyed spent five or more hours a week in
an operating suite or recovery room area, and nearly a quarter of these vets did not take steps to
reduce their exposure to anaesthetic gases.

"While eight in 10 vets were found to use lead aprons to protect themselves when taking x-rays,
a great deal of them did not use other protective devices such as gloves, screens or film

A/Prof Fritschi said the study proved that avoiding unnecessary exposure to occupational
hazards needed to become a higher priority for veterinarians, particularly those who were

"Existing precautions such as properly ventilating the workplace and minimising the amount of
exposure through radiation protection measures such as masks, shoes and gloves are of vital
importance," she said.

"It is also essential that the vets themselves take part in the planning of preventive measures,
and in training and educating the profession about how and when to use protective devices at

“Vets most at risk of dangerous exposures include graduates, vets under 30 years of age, those
working in a mixed animal practice and vets working more than 45 hours a week.”

The ‘Health Risks of Australian Veterinarians’ project was carried out by scientists at WAIMR
and The University of Western Australia's School Of Population Health as part of Dr Adeleh
Shirangi's PhD.


         Media contact: Sarah Hayward, WAIMR Media Consultant, m0411 404 415

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