Formal- or formol- ?

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From:John Difford <>
To:Histonet <>
Date:Wed, 13 Oct 1999 17:50:43 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

Dear Histoneters,

John Kiernan has stated in a recent communication to Histonet that when
naming a formaldehyde-containing fixative the correct usage is formal- (
eg. as in formal-saline) and he sites J. R. Baker as the authority for this

I have to report that he is in error in this for two reasons,

1. Baker did not approve of the use of formol-, that  is true,  but then he
did not approve of formal- either. Read his book for the reasons.

2. The first person to describe the effect of formaldehyde solution as a
fixative for tissues was Ferdinand Blum (in 1893). He was using a
commercially produced solution called ' Formol' and it is my belief that he
would have used this as a system of nomenclature, (eg. Formol in a saline
solution becomes formol-saline.)

Hence, since Blum was the first to describe Formol- as a fixative, we
should give him priority in the manner of naming.

John Difford
Histopathology Department
Royal Free Hospital
London, England

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