Week 4 – Neoplasms
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It has long been understood that prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can be carcinogenic (cancer causing.) Unfortunately, our profession is an occupational risk. It is the reason we must do all we can to reduce our exposure, through proper protocol, while working around formaldehyde.
There are two items I'd like you to read:
Abstract and discussion portion of this research article https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2794303/
Choose a portion of one of these articles and compose an initial post that will elicit a response from your fellow classmates. You are to comment on two other posts.
There is plenty of information that is most relevant to those that will be future embalmers. When composing your posts, you might focus on the actual malignancy associated with prolonged formalin exposure, the devastating effects, ways to mitigate exposure, stats on funeral workers that are exposed etc..
The discussions are a great way to learn and exchange information with others in the class.
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I selected the Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk article. I too was shocked to see how deeply rooted formaldehyde is in the production of common items we use everyday. For example, did you know that pressed-wood, glue, paper product coatings and some insulation material are made with formalin besides industrial disinfectants, The article blew me away when it mentioned formaldehyde is naturally found in fruit, food preservatives, tobacco smoke and in our bodies as part of the metabolic process.
When I thought about exposure to formaldehyde as an embalmer, we were taught to wear proper PPE to avoid contact on our skin and masks to avoid inhaling fumes, but in foods we eat! I am taken back by this revelation. The article states that low concentrations of formaldehyde are in lotions, shampoos, conditioners, keratin hair smoothing treatments, shower gels and nail polish. No wonder cancer is one of the top 5 killers. This toxic gas/chemicals is almost in everything we need to function everyday. How can the OSHA or EPA let companies use toxic chemicals that can kill us? Sure, low concentrations alone may be tolerable, but if a person uses a large combination of products and food lased with formaldehyde on a regular basis, the exposure level is greater, thus the high rate of new cancer cases in America. At least embalmers can safe guard themselves during the embalming process while in a well ventilated prep room, but what about everyday people that do not deal with high concentrations of formaldehyde and still get cancer. I am in shock. Thanks professor for schooling us this week. I'm done! Wow.
The elephant in the room, cancer. We put ourselves at risk each time we expose ourselves to formaldehyde, and it is our job to keep ourselves and others protected. Did I know a small amount of formaldehyde is in most fruit? No I did not. These articles are very mind blowing and factual. There has been a possible link that embalmers obtain cancer in the nasopharynx, however several studies have linked embalmers with leukemia: cancer in blood-producing tissues, the lymphatic system, and bone marrow. There has not been a link between any other types of cancer, however with leukemia, there has also been evidence of chromosome changes associated with professions that work around formaldehyde. It's important to have proper ventilation and methods to reduce high levels of exposure over time. Like most of you, I have experienced many of the health effects listed in the article and we cannot take this lightly.