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May 28, 1982

Health Hazards of Formaldehyde

Author Affiliations

Monroe Community Hospital University of Rochester Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1982;247(20):2778. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320450016009

To the Editor.—  The rapid growth of formaldehyde use has resulted in renewed interest in the health hazards of this compound. Two recent publications1 (1981;246:1677) discuss the consequences of formaldehyde toxicity. The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma in the nasal turbinates of rats and mice exposed to formaldehyde fumes and the incidence of small cell carcinoma of the lung among workers exposed to bischloromethyl ether, a combination of formaldehyde and hydrogen chloride, are of serious concern. Formaldehyde is beginning to be recognized as having mutagenic properties and as posing a carcinogenic risk to humans.We had an opportunity to study bone marrow chromosomal patterns from 40 patients who were undergoing maintenance hemodialysis. In this study we found marked chromosomal abnormalities, among them aneuploidies, chromosomal structural abnormalities, and chromosomal breaks.2 These abnormalities were seen in the metaphases from direct bone marrow preparations without prior culturing that suggests that the abnormalities