The Evaluation of Formaldehyde Exposure in the Anatomy Laboratories and the Preventive Measures

  • Neslihan Gürbüz Gazi University Faculty of Medicine, Biochemistry, Beşevler, 06510, Ankara,
  • Zafer Kutay Coşkun Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Gazi University, Beşevler 06510, Ankara
  • Feza Anıl Liman Vocational School of Health Science, Selçuk University, Konya
  • Afitap Anıl Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Gazi University, Beşevler 06510, Ankara
  • Hasan Basri Turgut Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Gazi University, Beşevler 06510, Ankara,
Keywords: Formaldehyde exposure, anatomy laboratory, clinic symptoms, environmental monitoring, preventive measures


Objective: Our aim is to evaluate the studies about formaldehyde exposure in anatomy laboratories at faculties of medicine all over the world reported from 2000 to 2013.Materials and Methods: In this research, formaldehyde exposure of medical students and researchers in the anatomy laboratories of faculties of medicine studies, which were reported in Pubmed database from 2000 to 2013, were reviewed and classified clinical symptoms, environmental monitoring and preventive measures.Results: There are 27 studies on formaldehyde exposure from anatomy laboratories of various faculties of medicine 15 (55.6%) of which are clinical symptom studies whereas 12 (44.4%) are environmental monitoring of formaldehyde exposure. Conclusion: Considering the fact that lower levels of exposure to formaldehyde is associated with cytogenetic changes in epithelial cells of the nasal region, long-term exposure to formaldehyde in the anatomy laboratories poses risks of nasopharynx and nasal cavity cancers. Medical students and instructors working in anatomy laboratories should take concrete measures to reduce exposure to formaldehyde

Author Biography

Neslihan Gürbüz, Gazi University Faculty of Medicine, Biochemistry, Beşevler, 06510, Ankara,


Souza AD, Devi R. Cytokinesis blocked micronucleus assay of peripheral lymphocytes revealing the genotoxic effect of formaldehyde exposure. Clin Anat 2014; 27:308-12. 2. Costa DL, Amdur MO. Air pollution. In: Klaassen CD, eds. Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996. p 857-82.

Mirabelli MC, Holt SM, Cope JM. Anatomy laboratory instruction and occupational exposure to formaldehyde. Occup Environ Med 2011: 68: 375-78.

Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Toxicological Profile for Formaldehyde. Atlanta, 1999. p1- 468.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Formaldehyde, 2-butoxyethanol and 1-tert-butoxypropan-2-ol. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog 3 Risks Hum, 2006. 88: 1-478.

National Toxicology Program. Final report on carcinogens background document for formaldehyde. Rep Carcinog Backgr Doc, 10-5981, 2010. p-512.

Brenner E. Human body preservation - old and new techniques. J Anat 2014 ; 224(3): 316-44. 8. Suruda A. Morticians. In: Occupational, Industrial, and Environmental Toxicology. (eds Greenberg MI, Hamilton RJ, Phillips SD, McCluskey GJ), Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Inc. 2003. P 274–83.

Lakchayapakon K, Watchalayarn P. Formaldehyde exposure of medical students and instructors and clinical symptoms during gross anatomy laboratory in Thammasat University. J Med Assoc Thai 2010: 93 Suppl 7:S92-98.

Vimercati L, Carrus A, Martino T, Galise I, Minunni V, Caputo F, et al. Formaldehyde exposure and irritative effects on medical examiners, pathologic anatomy post-graduate students and technicians. Iran J Public Health. 2010; 39:26-4.

Kunugita N, Nakashima T, Kikuta A, Kawamoto T, Arashidani K. Exposure to formaldehyde during an anatomy dissecting course. J UOEH 2004; 26:337-48.

Tanaka K, Nishiyama K, Yaginuma H, Sasaki A, Maeda T, Kaneko SY, et al. Formaldehyde exposure levels and exposure control measures during an anatomy dissecting course. Kaibogaku Zasshi 2003; 78:43-51.

Onyije FM, Avwioro OG. Excruciating effect of formaldehyde exposure to students in gross anatomy dissection laboratory. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2012; 3:92-5.

Mori M, Hoshiko M, Hara K, Saga T, Yamaki K, Ishitake T. Changes in subjective symptoms and allergy state among medical students exposed to low-level formaldehyde 6 months after completion of a gross anatomy dissection course. Environ Health Prev Med 2013; 18:386-93.

Takahashi S, Tsuji K, Fujii K, Okazaki F, Takigawa T, Ohtsuka A, et al. Prospective study of clinical symptoms and skin test reactions in medical students exposed to formaldehyde gas. J Dermatol 2007; 34:283-89.

Mizuki M, Tsuda T. Relationship between atopic factors and physical symptoms induced by gaseous formaldehyde exposure during an anatomy dissection course. Arerugi. 2001;50:21-8.

Wantke F, Focke M, Hemmer W, Bracun R, Wolf-Abdolvahab S, Götz M, et al. Exposure to formaldehyde and phenol during an anatomy dissecting course: sensitizing potency of formaldehyde in medical students. Allergy 2000; 55:84-7.

Khaliq F, Tripathi P. Acute effects of formalin on pulmonary functions in gross anatomy laboratory. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2009; 53:93-6.

Ostojić L, Bradarić A, Mise K, Ostojić Z, Lovrić J, Petrović P, et al. Pulmonary function in persons who are professionally exposed to formaldehyde fumes. Coll Antropol 2006; 30:507-11.

Kriebel D, Myers D, Cheng M, Woskie S, Cocanour B. Short-term effects of formaldehyde on peak expiratory flow and irritant symptoms. Arch Environ Health 2001; 56:11-8.

Sakamoto T, Miyake M. Health effects of formaldehyde, as an indoor air pollutant. Kaibogaku Zasshi 2010; 85:35-41.

Uchiyama I. Toxicity of formaldehyde exposure and the details of its control measures. Kaibogaku Zasshi 2010; 85:29-34.

Vohra MS. Personal formaldehyde exposure level in the gross anatomy dissecting room at College of Medicine King Saud University Riyadh. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2011; 24:108-13.

Kikuta A, Yamato H, Kunugita N, Nakashima T, Hayashi H. Reducing the levels of formaldehyde exposure during a gross anatomy dissection course with a local ventilation system. Kaibogaku Zasshi 2010; 85:17-27.

Ohmichi K, Matsuno Y, Miyaso H, Yamamoto H, Toriuchi M, Shimane M, et al..Pilot study of a dissection table for gross anatomy laboratory equipped with a photocatalytic device that decomposes formaldehyde. J Occup Health 2007; 49:499-03.

Whitehead MC, Savoia MC. Evaluation of methods to reduce formaldehyde levels of cadavers in the dissection laboratory. Clin Anat. 2008; 21:75-81.

Yamato H, Nakashima T, Kikuta A, Kunugita N, Arashidani K, Nagafuchi Y, et al. A novel local ventilation system to reduce the levels of formaldehyde exposure during a gross anatomy dissection course and its evaluation using real-time monitoring. J Occup Health 2005; 47:450-53.

Proietti L, Sandonà PB, Longo B, Gulino S, Duscio D. Occupational exposure to formaldehyde at a service of pathologic anatomy. G Ital Med Lav Ergon 2002; 24:32-4.

Keil CB, Akbar-Khanzadeh F, Konecny KA. Characterizing formaldehyde emission rates in a gross anatomy laboratory. Appl Occup Environ Hyg 2001; 6:967-72.

Kurose T, Kodera H, Aoyama H, Kawamata S. Formaldehyde concentration in the air and in cadavers at the gross anatomy laboratory in Hiroshima University. Hiroshima J Med Sci. 2004; 53:33-7.

Ohmichi K, Komiyama M, Matsuno Y, Takanashi Y, Miyamoto H, Kadota T, et al. Formaldehyde exposure in a gross anatomy laboratory--personal exposure level is higher than indoor concentration. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 2006; 13:120-24.

Ahmed HO. Preliminary study: Formaldehyde exposure in laboratories of Sharjah university in UAE. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2011; 15:33-7.

Takayanagi M, Sakai M, Ishikawa Y, Murakami K, Kimura A, Kakuta S, et al. Formaldehyde concentrations in the breathing zone of medical students during gross anatomy laboratory in Toho University. Kaibogaku Zasshi 2007; 82:45-51.

Viegas S, Ladeira C, Nunes C, Malta-Vacas J, Gomes M, Brito M, et al. Genotoxic effects in occupational exposure to formaldehyde: A study in anatomy and pathology laboratories and formaldehyde-resins production. J Occup Med Toxicol 2010; 20;5:25.

Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). Guidelines for reducing formaldehyde concentrations in Indoor air of workplace, Tokyo, 2002, pp. 3- 90.

Arts JH, Muijser H, Kuper CF, Woutersen RA. Setting an indoor air exposure limit for formaldehyde: factors of concern. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2008; 52:189-94.

James H. Bedino (2004) Research, Formaldehyde Exposure Hazards and Health Effects: A Comprehensive Review for embalmers, The Champion Expanding Encyclopedia of Mortuary Practices, Encyclopedia, 650, p. 2636- 37.

Lu K, Collins LB, Ru H, Bermudez E, Swenberg JA. Distribution of DNA adducts caused by inhaled formaldehyde is consistent with induction of nasal carcinoma but not leukemia. Toxicol Sci. 2010; 116:441-51.

Burgaz S, Erdem O, Cakmak G, Erdem N, Karakaya A, Karakaya AE. Cytogenetic analysis of buccal cells from shoe-workers and pathology and anatomy laboratory workers exposed to n-hexane, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone and formaldehyde. Biomarkers 2002; 7:151-61.

Burgaz S, Cakmak G, Erdem O, Yilmaz M, Karakaya AE. Micronuclei frequencies in exfoliated nasal mucosa cells from pathology and anatomy laboratory workers exposed to formaldehyde. Neoplasma 2001; 48:144-47.

Mori M, Hoshiko M, Hara K, Ishitake T, Saga T, Yamaki K. Effect of large-scale repair work on indoor formaldehyde levels upon and subjective symptoms in, medical students during gross anatomy dissection course. Nihon Eiseigaku Zasshi 2012; 67:501-07.

Coleman R. Reducing the levels of formaldehyde exposure in gross anatomy laboratories. Anat Rec 1995; 243:531-33.

Literature Review With Cases