Re: Formalin substitutes

From:Vinnie Della Speranza

you didn't mention why your safety officer wants you to get rid of formalin. Unfortunately formaldehyde has become a popular target of safety officers. who frequently do not understand the implications for removing it from the workplace.
however, have you had violations of the formaldehyde standard at your facility?
excessive exposures to formaldehyde vapors?
spills that resulted in interruption of work in the lab or OR as well as costly cleanup?
employees who've become ill or sensitized?
if so, these are serious matters that require engineering or workpractice controls
if such things have not prompted your safety officer's concern,
consider te following:
virtually all tissue lesions have been described in the pathology literature from tissues that had been fixed in formalin. Substitutes may lead to altered histologic appearance that leaves some pathologists uncomfortable with the notion of using something other than formalin. Enlist your pathologists in this discussion at your facility. If they feel that they could misdiagnose something because of an altered microscopic appearance, this has to weigh heavily in the final decision.
alson any formalin substitutes will still need to be disposed of as hazardous chemical waste in your facility, which not eliminates any cost savings for disposal but many times the substitute costs more than formalin to begin with. Fixatives are by design toxic substances intended to kill cells and microorganisms. I worry that a formalin substitute might lead some, like nursing personnel, to become less careful or vigilant in exercising proper care when working with the material by believing that the substitute is "safe". No fixative is safe is used improperly.
good luck and keep us informed of how things develop.
Vinnie Della Speranza
Manager for Anatomic Pathology Services
Medical University of South Carolina
165 Ashley Avenue  Suite 309
Charleston, SC 29425
Ph: 843-792-6353
fax: 843-792-8974

>>> Valerie Hannen <> 05/29/02 11:21PM >>>
It's me again.   We currently use zinc formalin. Our safety officer wants us to check into formalin substitutes. My problem is that our IHC procedure (Kit from manufacturer)
says to use only formalin, or zinc formalin for best results.
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
and no we don't want to change our IHC procedure.
Thanks a lot!!!!
Valerie Hannen,MLT(ASCP),HTL
Parrish Medical  Center
Titusville, Florida
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