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Are The Swab Tests Valid

The Report received the following email from a subscriber who has 30+ years’ experience as an Environmental Health and Safety Manager. During his 30 year career, he had to conduct many air quality tests, hazardous material air sampling and drug testing. Based on his experience, he lists the following fundamental problems with the swab tests conducted by the USDA:

1. I have watched the USDA perform their swab testing at several horse shows and I have never seen them take a background test to determine a baseline of exposure in the air prior to testing the horse. In other words, you can take an air sample almost anywhere and detect hydrocarbons (diesel, gas, fertilizers, insecticides, perfumes, detergents, decayed food, sewer fumes, just to name a few). Horse manure gives off fumes that contain hydrogen sulfide gas. So, without a background swab collected for each horse swab, you do not know what was present just prior to the horse being tested.

2. VMO’s are not trained to conduct such tests as evidenced by the inconsistency in collecting. For example, some VMO’s hold the swab less than one inch from the horse, some up to 6 or 7 inches from the horse, and some touch the horse with the swab. I would question if any of the VMO’s have certification documenting that they have been trained in Air Sampling.

3. If you look at the chemicals listed and compare them to chemicals found in fly spray, hair spray, spray paint, sun tan lotion, Show Sheen, Go-Joe, soaps, any first aid spray or first aid ointment…in other words, if you check the MSDS sheets for almost any item found in a house, shop or vehicle, you see that the chemicals listed by the USDA are found everywhere. The collections I have seen done by the USDA have not used proper chain of custody procedures which means that the samples are subject to uncontrolled environmental conditions that could skew the results.

4. The Humane Society once again is using deceptive practices. They state that numbing agents are being used and that the attached list proves their statement. The attached list contains numerous chemicals that are not numbing agents. As far as I could see, most of the chemicals listed are found in fuel products, fly spray, hair spray and soap.


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