Re: formalin

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From:Shirley Powell <> (by way of histonet)
To:histonet <>
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Hi Louise,
I have been in histology for 35 years, I am 55 years old now and glad I
have lived this long.  We were told when I started in histology that the
life expectancy of histotechs was around 20 years and rightly so since at
that time our ventilation was nil.  I do remember when we started to
buffer formalin, not sure how long others were doing it at that time, in
1965.  But I imagine the problem with the variability in results is from
leaving specimens in formalin for the duration of storage.  Some were
keeping specimens in jars for years and years.  This was way before we
started putting them in plastic bags in the refrigerator to keep until
signed out, moved to the morgue for cold storage for another few weeks,
then incinerated.  The interesting cases were kept, you guessed it, in
formalin for ever (and you never know what ratio of formalin to tissue
was used back then or whether the formalin manufacturer was regulated as
to what went into the final product).  Hope this helps you to understand
what happened to your specimens then, you young whippersnapper.

Shirley Powell

Ms Louise Taylor wrote:

> Hello histonetters,
> I am currently engaged on a seriously retrospective project involving
> performing PCR on  paraffin embedded archival tissues some of which
> are more than 30 years old. The variablity of the DNA viability and
> content is astounding. A factor that I can only ascribe to the
> various fixatives used way back then.
> Could some of the older histotechnologists give me some insight into
> what was common practice in say, the late 50's early 60's?
> (I will understand if some of you just say that you are reporting
> hearsay - after all - we don't all want to reveal our age?)
> When did buffered formalin come into vogue? As a mere whippersnapper
> of some 17 years experience - I can recall the unpleasantness of
> trying to make up buffered formalin in 25l quantities - an innovation
> and a great pain to a raw recruit.!
> I will appreciate any insight into what really happened
> many thanks
> Louise Taylor
> Johannesburg
> South Sfrica

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