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November 23, 1940

Embalming Fluids: Their Historical Development and Formulation, from the Standpoint of the Chemical Aspects of the Scientific Art of Preserving Human Remains

JAMA. 1940;115(21):1826. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810470070035

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Abstract

The author has compiled an interesting and authoritative book, probably the first of its kind, for the practicing mortician. The subject matter includes a review of the historical development of embalming, some phases of the chemistry of putrefaction, the action, formulation and compounding of embalming fluids, the chemical and physical properties of preservatives, a few analytical methods, the determination of the phenol coefficient, a digest of jurisdictional regulations and a digest of American patents for embalming preparations. Some of the material has been obtained from antiquated and obsolete textbooks such as Barnes's Art and Science of Embalming (Chicago, 1905). An interesting section is that on the selective absorption of formaldehyde by different tissues, which has been taken from the master's thesis of G. M. Sleichter (University of Cincinnati, 1939). Much of the organic and analytical chemistry is beyond the scope of the average mortician. Physicians, especially pathologists, and public health

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