Fears for the safety of formaldehyde workers followed reports that the chemical causes cancer in rats.(1) Formaldehyde is widely used as a laboratory fixative and as an embalming fluid but human epidemiological studies had revealed no evidence of cancer. The animal tests led to further observations of exposed workers but these were also negative.(1)
The rats had been forced to breathe such high doses (7-15 times that inhaled by workers) that the formaldehyde caused tissue damage which led to the cancers. Nevertheless, "...there are still some who believe that the positive results in the rat are the dominant factor to be taken into account and overrides the epidemiology but there is always some hope that common sense may prevail."(1)
1) P.Grasso, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1989, vol. 82, 470-473.
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