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January 5, 1901


JAMA. 1901;XXXVI(1):39. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.02470010043009

The general use made of formaldehyde—especially in the form of the commercial 40 per cent. solution in water, known as formalin—as a disinfectant, as an embalming fluid by undertakers, and in histologic laboratories makes the experimental study of its toxic effects desirable. In a preliminary communication. Martin Fischer1 shows that the inhalation of formaldehyde produces a marked inflammation of the respiratory tract. Injections into the stomach produce a variety of symptoms, and even sudden death; apparently the intensity of the symptoms and the degree of histologic disturbances bear no direct relation to strength or quantity of formalin introduced. Intense congestion, extensive necrosis and inflammatory reaction occur. Intraperitoneal injections produce a fibrino-hemorrhagic peritonitis of varying intensity, according to the strength of the solution. Subcutaneously injected, formalin produces a marked exudation and leucocytic infiltration. The eye is especially sensitive to the action of formalin. A single drop of concentrated formalin may