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Review Article

J Clin Exp Res. 2015; 3(2): 183-196

Formaldehyde: Fact sheet reflecting uses, exposure hazards, health effects and toxicological profile- A broad overview for medical professionals and embalmers.

Surajit Kundu, Alpana De, Sanjib Mitra.

Formaldehyde is a relatively common naturally occurring substance which can result also from manmade sources. Formaldehyde is a chemical that is quickly broken down in the environment and human body. Formaldehyde is a well established chemical that has been used for preservation of specimens and cadavers in gross Anatomy laboratory and museums for many decades. Its use does not limit itself in medical school but even towards industrial workshops. Medical students, medical faculty, embalmers, histo-pathological technicians are continuously but unknowingly exposed by inhalation to the pungent, acrid and toxic vapors of formaldehyde within their working arena. The ill effects of formaldehyde may be short term or even long term depending on the extent of exposure, the concentration of the chemical and form of the agent used (solid, liquid or gas) . Researchers have proved that short term effects of that agent include nausea, headache, and ocular irritation causing excessive lacrimation and a burning sensation in the throat. Dramatic long-term exposure to formaldehyde can cause contact dermatitis, congenital defects, and even cancer. This article gives a comprehensive analysis and commentary of formaldehyde exposure hazards and human health effects. The implications on embalmers and medical professionals and techniques for reduction of drastic exposure effects are delineated. Everyone benefits when managers and employees work in harmony. Hence this overview throws ample light on alternative methods for reduction of adverse effects so that educational programmes for the betterment of public health can run smoothly without any risk of occupational hazard. The article encourages that these alternative regulatory methods may be legally enforced for the betterment of the subject of Anatomy as a whole.

Key words: Formaldehyde; Formate; Medical profession; Systemic effects; Toxicology

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