RE: [Histonet] Formalin on skin

From:"Rittman, Barry R"

While we all seem to be concentrating on formalin, it should be remembered that combinations of different chemicals are often more damaging than exposure to a single chemical. 
It is therfore prudent to treat all chemicals with caution regradless of their known or perceived degree of possible damage and to stress this to all techs.


From: on behalf of
Sent: Thu 5/25/2006 4:09 AM
To: Histonet; Bryan Llewellyn
Subject: Re: [Histonet] Formalin on skin

Hi All,

The key here is the amount of exposure over time. How many labs have a
regular monitoring program which assesses formalin concentration whilst
staff are working, grossing, tissue processor reagent changes, with or in
an area where formalin vapours can build up, such as tissue store?  Our lab
has been monitored periodically over the years and the levels have always
been below the limit. In such a situation, the carcinogenic aspect is not
seen as a problem.



                      Bryan Llewellyn                                                                                                               
                                           To:      Histonet                                   
                      Sent by:                               cc:                                                                                    
                      histonet-bounces@lists.utsouth         Subject: Re: [Histonet] Formalin on skin                                               
                      23/05/2006 20:12                                                                                                              

Most of us old-timers have stuck our fingers in formalin or spilled it on
ourselves on many occasions.  I have never heard of anyone developing a
tumour from it, though.  It certainly doesn't appear to be common if it
happen.  In Canada some years ago we had a government program assisting
people to inject urea-formaldehyde resin into the walls of houses as a
retrofit insulation system.  A few years later it was decided the formalin
fumes given off were carcinogenic, so we had another program to remove it.
That's about the only link to tumours I have heard of.

One of the pathologists I used to work with many years ago was fond of
quoting a paper he had once read which compared naso-pharyngeal tumour
among various groups.  Pathologists had a lower rate than other people.  He

always put that down to the formalin fumes they breathed in all the time.

The real identified problem with formalin and skin contact is dermatitis.
It isn't universal, but some people do get it with repeated contact, and
once you develop the sensitivity to it, it doesn't go away.  So wear

Bryan Llewellyn

----- Original Message -----
From: "Charles.Embrey" 
To: ; "Histonetliste (Histonetliste)"

Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 10:56 AM
Subject: RE: [Histonet] Formalin on skin

You are 100% correct.  I have even reached a bare hand into formalin to
pull out something before but washed with soap and water minutes after.
I have not personally heard of formalin causing an increased risk of
skin cancer however I am sure that there is a study somewhere that has
probably associated some risk with L---O---N---G term exposure. Your
labassistant should be perfectly safe.  Just don't drink it and keep it
out of the eyes :)

Charles Embrey Jr. PA(ASCP)

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Gudrun
Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 12:32 PM
To: Histonetliste (Histonetliste)
Subject: [Histonet] Formalin on skin

Today a labassistent asked me, what would happen to her skin, if
swallowed over her arm.
I said, the formalin would harden the skin, but only on the surface. She
should wash the arm with plenty of water, and there will reamain no
reaction. It would not be dangerous for her health.

Do you agree with me? Is there a cancer-risk after short contact with

Gudrun Lang

Akh Linz

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