Exposure of embalmers to formaldehyde and other chemicals

Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1984 Mar;45(3):172-6. doi: 10.1080/15298668491399596.


Seven funeral homes were surveyed in 1980 to determine the magnitude of embalmers' exposure to formaldehyde, other chemical vapors, and total and respirable particulates. Air was monitored for formaldehyde by personal and area samples, and assayed using the chromotropic acid method. Personal sampling revealed time-weighted average formaldehyde concentrations which ranged from 0.1 to 0.4 ppm (mean 0.3 ppm) and 0.5 to 1.2 ppm (mean 0.9 ppm) during the embalming of intact and autopsied bodies, respectively. Concentrations of other airborne chemicals and of particulates were negligible. In preparing autopsied bodies, embalming technique and condition of the body itself appeared to be major determinants of formaldehyde exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational*
  • Embalming*
  • Formaldehyde / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • West Virginia


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Formaldehyde