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November 4, 1939

Investigations on the Sterilization Efficacy of Gaseous Formaldehyde

JAMA. 1939;113(19):1759-1760. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800440063031

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This monograph presents not only a thorough critical review of the subject but also the author's investigations in which improved and original methods were used, leading to conclusions of practical and theoretical value, based on thorough bacteriologic studies in which physical-chemical factors were well controlled and analyzed. The aim of the investigation is stated by the author to have been of "a practical nature: to be able to stipulate under what conditions formaldehyde sterilization is reliable." As test organisms many strains of non-spore forming and spore forming aerobic and anaerobic bacteria were used. These were placed on "test objects" of various materials and forms.

"According to generally accepted opinion the bactericidal effect of formaldehyde depends upon simple molecules while polymerized molecules, as such, are considered to be biologically inactive." The author questions the opinion that "dry" formaldehyde gas consists almost entirely of polymerized molecules at ordinary temperatures. As a result

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