Date of Award

Fall 2015

Degree Type

Non-Thesis Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Industrial Hygiene

Committee Chair

Terry Spear

First Advisor

Julie Hart


Formaldehyde is widely used in the healthcare industry. Formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant and sterilant. In addition, formaldehyde/formalin is used as fixative/ preservative of anatomical specimens in pathology departments. Individuals may experience adverse effects following short term exposure above 0.1ppm. Following a laboratory study in the early 1980s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen in 1987.

Although the healthcare industry in the United States made major advancement in the safe use of formaldehyde/formalin since the implementation of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Formaldehyde standard, other developing countries are still struggling with the proper storage, handling and disposal of formaldehyde.

As part of a Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation assessment team, a baseline industrial hygiene exposure assessment took place in the Dominican Republic’s Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud. This assessment included conducting personal exposure and area monitoring. In addition, an instantaneous monitoring device was use to detect any fluctuations/ Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL) conditions.

Even though the data listed is limited, it was concluded that a significant level of overexposure to formaldehyde is expected during unplanned leaks from sterilizing equipment and the segregation of specimens from formalin in the morgue area.


A report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Industrial Hygiene Distance Learning / Professional Track Montana Tech of the University of Montana 2015