Although formaldehyde was first obtained by von Hoffman in 1866, who made it by passing the vapor of wood alcohol over finely divided platinum, yet its practical use as a disinfectant was not applied until quite recently. Aronson1 published the results of some work in 1892, showing that formaldehyde gas would destroy pathogenic bacteria, even when these organisms were exposed superficially in large rooms. Under such circumstances he found that when such bacteria as the staphylococcus pyogenes aureus, the streptococcus, the bacillus pyocyaneus, the typhoid bacillus, the diphtheria bacillus, the anthrax bacillus and the tubercle bacillus were exposed to the action of the gas in sufficient concentration, these germs were destroyed. Sterilized pieces of silk thread, gauze, linen and wool were soaked in bouillon cultures of these organisms and then placed in various portions of the room. Cultures from these materials which had been exposed to the gas remained
STOKES WR. FORMALDEHYDE DISINFECTION. JAMA. 1898;XXX(22):1274–1277. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.72440740020002g
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