Occupational hazards of hospital personnel: assessment of a safe alternative to formaldehyde

Formaldehyde – a chemical widely used to preserve organ tissues in hospitals – is known to be carcinogenic in the long term and to cause breathing-related symptoms in the short term. In a new study, researchers undertook an experiment to quantify this second effect among hospital workers in terms of probability of showing respiratory symptoms with respect to a benchmark in which tissues are preserved using a procedure with arguably no impact, i.e., under-vacuum sealing. The researchers have utilised an experimental situation with controls for potential confounding effects to estimate a logistic regression of the probability that formalin (a solution of formaldehyde and water) causes respiratory symptoms. They found that the probability for formalin users was found to be eight to ten times higher than for personnel testing under-vacuum sealing. The authors concluded that the substitution of formaldehyde with under-vacuum sealing would markedly improve the health of personnel.

Authors: Berton, Fabio; Di Novi, Cinzia ;Journal of Occupational Health 2012, 54(1), 74-78 (English) ;