Non toxic, non hazardous fixatives

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From:Laurence Reilly <> (by way of histonet)
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>Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999 10:12:00 +1000
>From: Leigh Winsor <>
>Subject: Non toxic, non hazardous fixatives
>An enquiry from a former PhD student and ACTFR biologist re a
>fixative that can readily be transported by air without paperwork etc. Read
>Through the Histonet or other sources, can either of you please tell me
>what are the present views - effectiveness - of the so-called "safe"
>fixatives that have very low / nil toxicity eg. "ExCell", and others
>advertised in J. Histotechnol (also price and availability in Australia).
>What I am after is a fixative that is OK for biological specimens but which
>is not classified as dangerous goods or hazardous substance.
>The problem is the fixation of biological material that must be transferred
>immediately on collection (mostly freshwater organisms) to a lab by plane -
>there are restrictions on carriage by air of formaldehyde etc. - ideally  a
>reagent that does not require paperwork, special labelling and special
>container - could be carried in hand luggage(!). A tall order.
>Suggestions re pouring off / diluting conventional fixatives eg
>formaldehyde, have been made. May have to be used.
>Ideally what is required is a single process without double handling - pop
>specimens into fixative, transport and then work on them. There may be
>delay between arrival at lab and work on them, so fixative must continue to
>act effectively. After examination specimens may be transferred to a
>conventional fixative - eg. 70% ethanol.
>My impressions of one trialled by Laurie and I some years ago, that for
>invertebrate material the fixative was r/s - barely preserved specimens.
>Any info would be much appreciated.
>Mr Leigh Winsor,
>Workplace Health and Safety Coordinator
>Central Services
>James Cook University
>Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
>Phone    (07)4781-5418,         Fax (07) 4725-2721
Mr.Laurie Reilly                          Ph 07 4781 4468
Physiology & Pharmacology                 Fax  07 4781 5558
Aust.Inst.of Tropical Vet.& Animal Sc.
James Cook University           
       Townsville  Qld. 4811

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