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May 5, 1900


JAMA. 1900;XXXIV(18):1135. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.02460180047009

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The local newspapers have, within the past few days, contained accounts of accidents from disinfection by formaldehyde gas, and it was said that a number of the employees of the Chicago Health Department were suffering from its effects. In one case insanity was reported as the result. A careful inquiry reveals that the reports were somewhat exaggerated, and that in no case was serious permanent injury received so far as known. The method used in Chicago is that of spraying on sheets, and there are certain dangers connected with the use of formaldehyde in this way especially to those who, as public disinfectors, are compelled to repeatedly expose themselves to its vapor, but these are chiefly confined to the disinfection of large spaces that necessitate a comparatively prolonged stay in the gradually vitiated atmosphere; in ordinary-sized rooms, they are minimal if they exist at all. There is also a certain

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