Re: disposal of formalin

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There are several commercial "formaldehyde neutralizers" on the market, none
providing any information about the chemical reaction that is supposed to
dispose of the formaldehyde.

Histotechnologists and Herrn Inspektors seem to put the same blind faith in
these proprietary formulas that they do, say, in the label on a package of
Hostess Twinkies.

Does any of these products do what it's supposed to do? Particularly, does
the reaction between formaldehyde and ammonia go to completion at room
temperature and in dilute aqueous solution?

Further, what is the reaction supposed to accomplish? What happens to the
reaction product in the drain and in the sewage system? It would seem likely
to me that the bacteria in sewage treatment systems are quite capable of
disposing of the small amounts of formaldehyde we present to them, but I
don't know that for a fact.

Actually, I'd be as concerned with the environmental effects of the buffer
phosphates and the ammonia as I would be with the formaldehyde. These after
all are well known causes of eutrophication in water systems.

We need to distinguish in our thinking among:

*the environmental facts about what happens to formaldehyde
* the rules imposed by regulatory agencies
* the deceptions and concealments of commercial interests
* the blind faith of most end users
* and last, and definitely least, the fond musings of elderly pathologists.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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