Excruciating Effect of Formaldehyde Exposure to Students in Gross Anatomy Dissection Laboratory

FM Onyije, OG Avwioro


Background: Formaldehyde is extensively used for preservation of cadavers in departments of anatomy. However, it is a noxious chemical which may cause serious health problems.

Objective: To assess the effect of exposure of medical students to formaldehyde at the Department of Anatomy, Niger Delta University, Nigeria.

Methods: In a questionnaire-based study, 93 second-year medical students were surveyed at the Department of Human Anatomy, Niger Delta University, Nigeria. The average duration of exposure for each student in the dissection hall was 6 hr/wk. Participants with history of cough, respiratory or skin diseases were excluded from the study.

Results: Out of 93 questionnaires distributed, 75 were completed and returned (response rate: 81%). Of 75 students, 58 (77%) were strongly affected by unpleasant smell of formaldehyde. It was followed by “runny or congested nose” and “redness of the eyes.” “Skin-related diseases” was identified as the least ranked effect of formaldehyde.

Conclusion: Due to the numerous health challenges that formaldehyde causes to students in the gross anatomy dissection laboratories, it cannot be considered as a suitable chemical for embalmment of cadaver for dissection.


Anatomy; Dissection; Formaldehyde; Students, medical

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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