Discharge limits for formalin

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From:"Fredrickson, Michael" <MFREDRICKSON@PARTNERS.ORG>
To:"'histonet@pathology.swmed.edu'" <histonet@Pathology.swmed.edu>
Date:Fri, 26 Mar 1999 13:39:49 -0500

Fellow Histonetters:
I am in need your of advise.  For years, it has been our practice to
carefully decant our used formalin off large fixed specimens, (i.e.
uteri, colon resections, Whipples, etc.) into  a large carboy and
subsequently have it removed by a licensed waste hauler.   

Prior to grossing, these specimens are briefly rinsed in running tap
water to eliminate the very small quantity of formalin remaining on the
specimen.  This is done to reduce the exposure to personnel grossing.  

Recently, we have been cited by the regulatory agency that governs our
waste water quality. They state the formalin level in our discharge
water was too high at 5 PPM.  They have a limit of 1 PPM. 

Do other institutions have this limitation? What are your permissible
limits?  Do you rinse specimens prior to grossing?  Do you collect all
the rinse water and a what cost? Are there other solutions to this

Thank you in advance for any suggestions. 

Michael M. Fredrickson
Mass. General - Boston

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