William C. Norris1, Marc A. Augenreich1, Janet Cope2, Cynthia Bennett2, Stephen M. Ratchford1, Jonathon L. Stickford1. 1Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. 2Elon University, Greensboro, NC.

Background: Formaldehyde (FA) is commonly utilized preservation agent contained within many household and industrial products, as well as in the solutions common to medical laboratories and mortuaries. Yet, FA is also a known carcinogen and pulmonary irritant. Purpose: To investigate the effects of FA exposure during a cadaver dissection laboratory on pulmonary function and biomarkers of inflammation. Methods: Students from two regional universities were recruited to perform pulmonary function testing and provided blood samples prior to and following a 90-min cadaver dissection laboratory session. Spirometry was measured by having subjects complete forced vital capacity (FVC) and maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV) maneuvers following American Thoracic Society guidelines. The NHANES III dataset was used to calculate percent predicted values. Plasma / serum concentrations of interleukin-6 or 15-HETE were analyzed using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay technique. Pre- and post-FA exposure data were subsequently examined using Student’s t tests and Pearson’s correlational analyses. Results: Before entering the laboratory, subjects (N=17; two males; 24±3yr; 24±4kg∙m-2) displayed normal pulmonary function, as indicated by the percent predicted values for FVC (97±10%), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1; 96±11%), and MVV (102±16%). Subjects were exposed to 192 ± 124 ppb of FA over the course of the dissection period. Following the session, no changes were observed for any of the spirometric parameters examined (FVC, 0±3%Δ; FEV1, 0±4%Δ; MVV, 0±0%Δ). Further, there were no correlations between the percent changes in FVC or FEV1 and FA exposure concentrations as well as inflammatory biomarkers (r2<0.06). No correlation of pulmonary function and interleukin-6 or 15-HETE was found. Conclusion: Acute exposure to FA over the course of a single dissection laboratory does not impair pulmonary function.

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