Re: [Histonet] Flammable Regulations for Formalin


Formaldehyde, which is 37-40% formaldehyde, has a NFPA flammability rating
of 2. It has a flash point somewhere between 50 to 60 degrees C. (122 to 140
degrees C.) (different MSDS have different numbers). It is the formaldehyde
gas vapors which, when mixed with air, that are flammable.

Formalin, which is usually 10% formalin and thus only 3.7-4.0% formaldehyde,
is 1/10 the concentration of the above formaldehyde, or 90% more water. It
has a flammability rating of 0 to 1, again depending upon which company's
MSDS you are reading. It has a flash point of 85-90 degrees C (185 to
greater than 195 degrees F). Being more dilute, the formaldehyde in the 10%
formalin is more difficult to ignite.

By definition, flammable means the chemical has a flashpoint below 100
degrees F. Combustible means it has a flashpoint between 100 and 200 degrees
F. So both formalin and formaldehyde gases, when mixed with air, are
combustible, but not flammable.

I'm not at work, so I don't have the regs in front of me, but maybe some
kind Histonetter can find them. I believe the provision is that
formaldehyde/formalin can be stored in a cool, well ventilated area away
from all sources of heat, sparks and flames, and away from incompatible
chemicals (such as oxidizers). That the regs don't specify flammable

Let me know if my memory and interpretation are correct.

Peggy A. Wenk, HTL(ASCP)SLS
William Beaumont Hospital
Royal Oak, MI 48073

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bauer, Karen" 
Sent: Monday, March 28, 2005 12:50 PM
Subject: [Histonet] Flammable Regulations for Formalin

Hi Histonetters,

Formalin has a flammable rating of 1.  EPA says that more than 10
gallons of flammable and combustible liquids should be stored in a
flammables cabinet or specially designed room.  Storage in flammable
cabinets must not exceed 60 gallons.  How is everyone storing their
saved tissues? We currently store ours in a vented cabinet(not a
flammable cabinet).  Do flammables with a rating of 1 have to be stored
the same as flammables with ratings of 3?

Nancy Levin
Safety Officer
Luther Pathology Lab
Eau Claire, WI
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