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Formaldehyde (Gross Anatomy Lab)

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by adiddas125, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. adiddas125

    adiddas125 Senior Member
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    Hi I was wondering if anyone with previous experience with HCHO in gross anatomy lab? How do you guys prepare to prevent a lot of exposure to this stuff? Do you guys double up on gloves? Do you wear lab coats? Goggles? Are those pieces of equipement even permitted? I plan on using a lot of my chemistry wear for this stuff. Anyone have some good tricks for preventing HCHO from permeating your hands and skin? Any advice would be great! :)
     
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  3. medicomel

    medicomel Purveyor of short posts.
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    i heard the purple gloves were better than latex. can somebody help me here? i'm blanking on what they're called.
     
  4. WhatUpDoc!

    WhatUpDoc! The Sign Says It All
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    Nitrile???
     
  5. medicomel

    medicomel Purveyor of short posts.
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    thank you ;)
     
  6. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy
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    I know someone who told me to wash your hands well with soap and just let the soap dry on your hands. That will help with the smell.

    I have heard nitrile is better than latex. Also double bagging seemed to work for quite a few as well.

    Some people have posted alot about this topic if you search anatomy and smell or even gloves ;)
     
  7. adiddas125

    adiddas125 Senior Member
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    Good Ideas! Too bad they dont make some sort of glove which has a protein type of membrane covering the glove. That way with all the free amine groups you could essentially have a hydrazone bond form between the amine and the aldehyde, while releasing water. Maybe its been thought of? :laugh:
     
  8. Hernandez

    Hernandez Paranoid and Crotchety...
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    Nitrile gloves are better, however, the problem with all chemicals and gloves is that there will eventually be a break through time on gloves when the chemical starts to permeate and penetrate the gloves, so this calls for frequent replacement of gloves. however, a quick google search shows that break through times are quit long on the order or hours with nitrile with most thicknesses, but if you want latex gloves, switch frequently.

    also note that many anatomy labs no longer use formaldehyde, so ask the lab tech if they know what they use and google the break through time to determine the best glove. but in the end, you're still going to smell funny.
     
  9. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    Hi there,
    I used single latex gloves and had no problems. I dissected in scrubs (burned at the end of the class) which reaked of formalin along with everything in my locker. Our school had a great ventilation system that keep us from breathing in the majority of the fumes but the odor was there. I washed my hands when I was done with dissection and the odor of formalin stayed on my hands. After a semester of Gross Anatomy, I got used to the "freshman" perfume. It was not unbearable just present.

    njbmd :)
     
  10. sga814

    sga814 Senior Member
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    Nitrile Gloves for you, Febreeze for Mr. Cadaver. Latex gloves are worthless.
     
  11. anon-y-mouse

    anon-y-mouse Senior Member
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    What about vinyl gloves? Comparisons with nitrile / latex?
     
  12. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I wouldn't worry too much. There have been very few cases of illness associated with med school dissections. At most places the nitrile gloves are going to be reserved for the few folks with latex allergies. You can try doubling latex, but you lose a lot of fine tune control of your hands. I've never heard of anyone using vinyl gloves in anatomy classes.
     
  13. Kris1

    Kris1 Mega-Senior Member
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    Many of my classmates don't even bother with gloves, goggles, or aprons. I wear my cargo shirts and flip-flops to lab and hop in.
     
  14. Bubchik

    Bubchik Senior Member
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    No gloves?!!!! Flip-flops?


    I would advise double-gloving, change your gloves (nitrile) at least each two hours. If you have long hair: wear a shower cap with a scarf around it (looks cute on girls, not sure about guys). Bring your own soap, because our lab soap stunk worse than formaldehyde.
    Under no circumstances bring your lab close home.
    In the beginning we tried to soak paper towels in Orange Pledge and put them around our table, some ppeople said it would help with smel, but it did not.

    Use separate books for lab (and leave the there) and for home studying.
    Good luck! Anatomy is fun, especially when it is over.
     
  15. Miami_med

    Miami_med Moving Far Away
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    Invest $10 in nitrile gloves. Put the latex over the nitrile, and that will eliminate a lot of the smell. Scrubs will be fine. No matter what you do, you will smell. It is worth it in my opinion. :rolleyes:
     
  16. JonnyG

    JonnyG IN the hospitals....
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    damn formaldehyde makes you hungery too. Tthose are defintely killer munchies.
     
  17. Thanatos

    Thanatos Senior Member
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    Nitrile under latex always worked for me, change the latex "outer" gloves every few hours and your hands won't smell. Change clothes, including shoes/socks, and shower when you get home, unless u want to get divorced. You'll get used to the smell in lab, I just didn't want to get used to that same smell while at home.
     
  18. SoCuteMD

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    Every few hours? How long did you spend in gross lab at a stretch!?!
     
  19. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch
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    Nobody at my school wears scrubs for gross lab. We wore lab coats over street clothes; I took mine home and bleach-washed it at the end of the semester, and threw away the old sneakers that completed the outfit. Nitrile gloves worked OK for the hands. Perhaps different labs have different formalin concentrations, but our lab smelled more of the alcohol than the formalin.

    The only thing that was really messy was flipping the cadaver. I always seemed to get soaked by that. Also, keep your mouth closed when you're leaning over to watch your partners dissect. Good way to get cadaver juice and/or pieces in your mouth, as I found out during our laminectomy.
     
  20. Zoom-Zoom

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  21. Ambs

    Ambs Sleeping is underrated!
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    Our lab had tons of nitrile gloves, so I double-gloved with the nitrile. I used a size small underneath, then used a little bit of the liquid soap and lathered all over the gloves without water, and then put on a second pair of gloves in a size medium. Sounds bizarre, but it worked. From previous work experience, I had 3 or 4 pairs of scrubs that I used for anatomy lab and then promptly got rid of once anatomy was over. Because you will need to wash your scrubs at least once a week, it's a good idea to assign laundry duties to a specific lab mate each week. You don't want to waste a load on just one pair of scrubs... and you don't have to do the dirty deed of washing those nasty things as often. As far as inhaling too much of the nasty, it's really not a problem at all - you're not going to get sick unless something smells absolutely awful... like dissecting the abdomen or when you shave/cut through bone. And even then it's really not bad at all. You get used to it. Your goal to learn and do well will overtake anything you find gross or smelly. Also, you'll realize that anatomy lab is a privilege and a wonderful way to learn. Also, even if you take many showers a day and tie your hair back, you WILL smell like lab during the entire course of anatomy.
     
  22. adiddas125

    adiddas125 Senior Member
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    I think im going with this option. Along with the following...

    I am a chemist by training, so I am extremely careful about exposure to chemicals.

    Protection Level 1: Wearing the shoddiest clothes I have, and making sure that it is a long sleeve. I am aiming to wear a lot of whites because I can always wash with bleach on the weekends.

    Protection Level 2: School issued scrubs. I'll be sure wash these as well very often, maybe I'll find a classmate who wants to wash them in cycles with me :).

    Protection Level 3: Chemistry Lab Coat.

    Hand Protection Level 1: Kimberly Clark Purple Nitrile Gloves (Medium)
    Hand Protection Level 2: Vaseline (Since formaldehyde is hydrophillic)
    Hand Protection Level 3: Kimberly Clark No Powder Latex (Medium)

    Eye Protection: Chemistry Department Issue Lab Goggles.

    Yes. I will look like a freakin nerd. :laugh:




    Edit: typo
     
  23. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch
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    The potential problem with this is that you will have no sense of touch. I think it's more instructive, not to mention easier, to dissect with the minimum amount of gloving. Our instructors wore no gloves at all, and on the few occasions I did the same thing, feeling the textures was pretty cool.
     
  24. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    I used purple nitrile for outer layer and latex for inner layer.
     
  25. Ambs

    Ambs Sleeping is underrated!
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    I tried the nitrile + latex combination, but it just didn't work for me and my classmates. I'm a nitrile + nitrile supporter. Also, I bet that in a few days, your goggles, lab coat, & shoddy clothes will be history, and your scrubs alone with some gloves will be enough for you.
     
  26. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Or alternatively, maybe you can get your hands on one of those HAZMAT full body outfits they use for chemical spill clean-ups. You won't get a whiff of formaldehyde through one of those. :laugh:
    This thread is hysterical -- formaldehyde stinks, but it isn't exactly something you want to spend too much time worrying about. You WILL get some on your skin during dissection, whether directly or via accidental brushing of your arm, or via splashing. As mentioned above, someone will inevitably even get some in their mouth, along with accompanying juices. And you/they won't die from it. Chill.
     
  27. thesauce

    thesauce Senior Member
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    Do they even use formaldehyde anymore? I thought it was banned years ago.
     
  28. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    Most places use formalin but the smell is bad anyway.
     
  29. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch
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  30. browniegirl86

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    Gawd I bet that tastes nasty.

    Anyone have firsthand experience with this and want to describe the taste? I know it's nasty but c'mon . . . I can't be the only curious one :laugh: :barf:
     
  31. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch
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    It was I who reported this happening above. My tank mate was standing across from me chiseling away at about T7 and I was leaning over to see, all agape with August M1 enthusiasm. Down came the chisel, and up flew *something* that was probably just liquid or perhaps a little bone chip.

    I don't remember tasting anything. I did spend the next couple of minutes spitting and rinsing. And since I've gotten a lot of mileage out of the experience (even now), it's just a fun M1 memory now.
     
  32. DoctaJay

    DoctaJay bone breaker
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    The cadavers are basically soaked with this stuff, and I tried to avoid it at first, but it was almost impossible for it not to get on my forearms sometimes. Really all I ended up using was gloves and a lab coat ocassionaly. If I had to lean across the body while disecting, then I would put on a plastic apron.
     
  33. browniegirl86

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    Good to know . . . I still think I'll be keeping the mouth firmly shut though, so thanks for the advice :)
     
  34. adiddas125

    adiddas125 Senior Member
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    Chill? Its a suspected carcinogen. I just want to limit the amount of exposure I have to chemicals. http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/F5522.htm

    Sure we all have done a column chromatography with silica gel. Silica gel is basically sand, but do you want to increase your exposure to it? Obviously not, I was just wondering what people were doing to decrease exposure.
     
  35. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I get that, but you will get formaldehyde on your skin (and perhaps even your mouth) no matter what you do. You will smell, but you probably won't die.
     
  36. MattD

    MattD Curmudgeon
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    It tastes like badness. I don't know any true comparison, because most people don't regularly eat blobs of raw fat soaked in formalin. It's just nasty. Sadly, I can't blame a labmate, I was just yanking on some adipose tissue trying to clear it from some underlying structures and it flew up in my face. Oops. Sharp dissection destroys everything so you'll never learn, but blunt dissection makes splattery messes. Always a tradeoff.....

    As far as gear for the lab, everyone seems to be really interested in staying clean.. for the first 2 days. The reality is that by the end of the first week most people will be wearing scrubs with no undergarments, and gloves, and MAYBE eyewear, and that's it. There will be no worry about touching. You will lean your bare arm on the cadaver's belly as you dissect the chest. You will have grease all over your front from leaning over the body. You will prop the arm up with your leg while working on it. The reason for this is that it already takes way too long to get everything done and study it, and being all uber-careful and sterile will necessitate you buying a cot and living in the lab.

    As far as gloves are concerned, I started out with latex, switched to nitrile in an attempt to eliminate the smell, and will be switching back to latex when the box runs out. Nitrile doesn't break through as fast, but it's thicker and you lose a lot of tactile sense, as well as general dexterity. It's also far too expensive for a little better smelling hands IMO. After all, your arms are going to stink anyway, as I said above :) I would recommend switching the latex gloves often though, if you leave them on too long your hands can get a little pruny/pickley.

    In response to the question about hours spent straight in the lab, my record so far is 8 hours straight, and I'm exactly 1 week into the class :) Welcome to med school, eh?
     
  37. Dr.McNinja

    Dr.McNinja Nobel War Prize Winner
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    Short of wearing a respirator, you're out of luck. Or you could not go in the lab much. There's nothing wrong with being careful, wearing the apron, gloves, etc, but eventually you will get over it. The only problems I've heard of are migraines and one girl who was in her first trimester had severe GI distress due to the fumes. It probably wouldn't have been very good for the kid either.

    And silica isn't bad for you. Synthetics can't cause silicosis. Mainly it would act as a dessicant, so I guess if you got buried in it, or ate it for lunch, but just touching it won't kill you.

    Everyone needs to go play in the dirt and reduce asthma.
     
  38. Ambs

    Ambs Sleeping is underrated!
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    Seriously! There's a reason they call it the Good Hygiene Hypothesis.
     
  39. Ambs

    Ambs Sleeping is underrated!
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    :laugh:

    Yeah, you can't avoid it. You're going to smell, and you're going to have juices, grease, and what not on your lab clothes (you'll lean over, bend, hold, etc and inevitably get junk on your scrubs). You'll forget about this thread and be engrossed (no pun intended) in learning and dissecting.
     

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