informational sheet is designed to alert you to the possible hazards of anatomy
dissections and to provide you with some guidance on how to protect yourself.
CHEMICALS- A number of chemicals are used in various proportions to preserve
cadavers. These chemicals are typically:formaldehyde,
phenol, methanol, and glycerin. These chemicals may be hazardous if they get in
or on your body. A great deal of effort has gone into reducing or eliminating
any possible hazardous exposure while performing dissections. The embalming
method, the laboratory ventilation, the personal protective equipment you are
instructed to wear, and your training in proper dissection practices are all
designed to help minimize your exposure.
– Formaldehyde is classified as a potential human carcinogen. It is part of
the embalming solution at 1.9% concentration. In addition to preserving tissue
for long periods of time it also acts to inactivate many microorganisms that may
reside in the tissue. The permissible exposure limit for formaldehyde is 0.75 parts per million. Airborne concentrations of formaldehyde above 0.1ppm (parts per million) can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
Higher concentrations can be dangerous to life and health. Skin contact with formaldehyde can also result in various skin reactions, including sensitization. The concentrations of formaldehyde used at AECOM for embalming are low. In addition, air monitoring for formaldehyde during anatomy
dissections, for the most part, have indicated low levels. Wear protective
nitrile gloves and a plastic apron. Wash your hands after dissections and, if
you suspect contamination.
PHENOL – Phenol is another chemical that is used in the embalming solution at 9.3%
concentration. It can cause irritations and burns and can have systemic
toxicity. It has a characteristic sweet acrid odor that you most likely detect
when you enter anatomy class. The permissible exposure limit for phenol is 5
parts per million in air. Skin
contact is the major route of exposure of this chemical. Use nitrile gloves and
a protective apron when performing dissections.Wash hands thoroughly after completion of your anatomy work or whenever
you suspect that your skin has come in contact with preserved tissue.
ALCOHOL - This chemical is also used in embalming solutions at 11.1%. Contact with
this chemical can result in irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and
nervous system. It has a characteristic pungent odor. The permissible exposure
limit is 200 parts per million in air. Prevent
skin contact by wearing nitrile gloves and a plastic apron. Wash your hands
carefully after dissection, or if you suspect skin contact.
GLYCERIN-Glycerin is used in the embalming solution at 11.1%. This
chemical is an irritant to the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system. It is
a colorless, odorless liquid.The
permissible exposure limit for this chemical is 5mg/m3. Prevent
contact by wearing protective nitrile gloves and clothing such as a plastic
apron. Wash your hands carefully after dissections or if you suspect skin
embalming chemicals are mixed with water at a ratio of one part chemicals to two
parts water. For further information on
the chemicals used for embalming, please obtain a copy of the Material Safety
Data Sheet (MSDS) for this solution.The
MSDS is an informational sheet that contains more in-depth
information about the chemicals used.The
MSDS for embalming solution can be obtained from the Anatomy Laboratory
Supervisor or from EH&S.
– Infectious agents are microorganisms that may cause disease in humans or
animals. Much like chemicals, you can be exposed to infectious agents by
inhalation, ingestion, injection or contact.Human tissues may contain infectious agents, however the embalming
solutions used on the cadavers not only preserve the tissue but also destroy
many infectious agents. In addition, the cadavers are screened and therefore are
of low risk.To minimize the risk
of exposure to infectious agents, make sure that the tissues with which you are
working, have been properly preserved. Wear nitrile gloves and protective
clothing such as a plastic apron or lab coat. Wash hands thoroughly after
working with tissue or if you suspect that you may have been exposed. There must
be no eating or drinking in work areas where tissues are present. Report all
accidents to the course director.
- Ergonomics is the study of the physical relationship between the individual
and their work. This relationship may be awkward or strained and must be
adjusted to prevent discomfort. Often your awareness of body tension is
sufficient to remind you to adjust to a more comfortable position. When
performing dissections, get close to the area with which you are working,, bend
at the knees if necessary, avoid excessive repetitive motions, avoid extensive
fixed positions and, take regular breaks to relax strained areas.
– Protective equipment is really anything that will reduce or eliminate the
possibility of exposure to hazardous materials. Your clothing, a lab coat,
apron, nitrile gloves, safety glasses and a respirator are all examples of
possible protective equipment. Your typical attire for dissections should be as
follows: surgical scrubs, apron, nitrile gloves, and safety glasses.Please note that latex gloves do not provide the same level of protection
as nitrile gloves for the embalming chemicals used.Do not re-use gloves.Change
them after 15 minutes of continuous use.Double-gloving
prolongs use time.
After you complete your work in the anatomy class, remove protective equipment
such as gloves, apron and safety glasses and wash thoroughly with mild soap and
water. Washing should be careful and deliberate, ensuring thorough cleaning of
any possible exposed skin.
you suspect that you have been exposed during the dissections, stop what you are
doing, remove protective equipment and wash carefully as above.
All disposable protective equipment must be disposed as medical waste. Medical
waste containers are located in each anatomy laboratory.Please remove gloves and disposable aprons and place these in the medical
waste containers before you leave the laboratory. This equipment must not be
worn in the hallways.The human
tissue that becomes waste is collected in a red container at the end of the
dissecting table during the semester and disposed at the end of the semester
with the cadaver.
DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH and SAFETY - The College is committed to
maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone who works and lives
within its facilities.The
Department of Environmental Health and Safety assists the College in this
endeavor by monitoring the use, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials and
by helping to educate staff, faculty and students about the proper handling of
these materials and about the actions to be taken in the event of an accident.
As both students at the College and future health care
professionals, you should be concerned with the quality and safety of the
environment in which you work and live.We
have included a test with this material as a means of helping you to learn more
about the exposure risks associated with dissection and the anatomy
laboratories.Please take a few
minutes to complete this test and then send it to us at the indicated on-Campus
address.If you have any questions
about specific safety procedures regarding dissections, please address them to
your laboratory teaching supervisor.
this information please contact Environmental Health and Safety at x4150 to
obtain a copy of the quiz. It is necessary to take and pass the quiz in order to
get credit for completing this training.