Formaldehyde is used in tissue fixing and preservation and decontamination.
Formaldehyde is a potent irritant, a skin sensitizer and a carcinogen. The current Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for formaldehyde is 0.75 ppm and the odor threshold for most people is 1 ppm. If you can routinely smell formaldehyde in your work area you may be overexposed.
If you use formaldehyde, try to find a less toxic substitute material. If you must use it, perform all operations in a fume hood. Wear splash proof goggles and neoprene, butyl rubber or polyvinyl gloves. Remember, 100% formalin is 37% w/v formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde vapor can be very difficult to control. Air monitoring shows that it is often necessary to add ventilation and other engineering controls to protect laboratory workers from dangerous levels of formaldehyde exposure.
Call the EHS Department at 265-5000 if you have any questions about the health risks of formaldehyde.