Recommendations of the working group of the Anatomische Gesellschaft on reduction of formaldehyde exposure in anatomical curricula and institutes

Journal article

Publication Details

Author(s): Waschke J, Bergmann M, Bräuer L, Brenner E, Buchhorn A, Deutsch A, Dokter M, Egu DT, Erguen S, Fassnacht U, Fietz D, Gundlach S, Heermann S, Hirt B, Kugelmann D, Mueller-Gerbl M, Neiss W, Nimtschke U, Plendl J, Pretterklieber M, Redies C, Scaal M, Schmidt MHH, Schmiedl A, Schnittler HJ, Schomerus C, Sebesteny T, Spittau B, Steiniger B, Tschernig T, Unverzagt A, Viebahn C, Voigt E, Weigner J, Weyers I, Winkelmann A, Winkler M, Paulsen F
Journal: Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger
Publication year: 2019
Volume: 221
Pages range: 179-185
ISSN: 0940-9602


The practice of human and veterinary medicine is based on the science of anatomy and dissection courses are still irreplaceable in the teaching of anatomy. Embalming is required to preserve body donors, for which process formaldehyde (FA) is the most frequently used and well characterized biocidal substance. Since January 2016, a new occupational exposure limit (OEL) for FA of 0.37 mg/m(3) issued by the European Committee on Hazardous Substances is obligatory since FA has been classified as a human 1B carcinogen. The anatomical institutes in the German-speaking region are called upon to consolidate efforts to reduce use of FA in anatomical curricula and body donations. As a result, the Anatomische Gesellschaft (AG) has formed a "Working Group for Reduction of Formaldehyde Exposure in Dissection Courses" tasked with discussion and recommendation of measures to reduce FA. Based on the assessment of the Working Group, the AG has issued an official opinion to the effect that, at this point in time, embalming of body donors without FA completely is not feasible. Therefore, a combination of approaches are to be used to reduce FA exposure, including technical and structural (architectural) adaptations, modification of protocols for fixation and preservation as well as organizational measures. One structural measure considered unavoidable is the integration of air supply and exhaust of individual dissecting tables into the ventilation system of the anatomy building. To embalm human body donors, intra-arterial perfusion fixation with up to 4% FA and a total fluid volume of 150 mL/kg body weight will suffice. For animals where body weights and biology of bodies vary widely (i.e. special needs of fixation for ruminants, large animals as horses) perfusion fixation with up to 4% FA and a quantity of fixative solution of 10-15% of the body weight may be required. Preservation of body donors in storage (immersion) can be done with 40% ethanol or in a full bath preservation containing up to 2% FA. Corpse humidification in the dissecting room is possible with 2% phenoxyethanol, in each case without FA. In veterinary anatomy, microbiological burden is often higher and therefore might lead to a need of FA in long-time storage. Compliance with the current OEL in all institutes would appear to be feasible in combination with various organizational measures. (C) 2018 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Bräuer, Lars Prof. Dr.
Professur für Oberflächenaktive Proteine
Paulsen, Friedrich Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Anatomie II

External institutions
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Freie Universität Berlin
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Hannover Medical School / Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH)
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU)
Medizinische Hochschule Brandenburg Theodor Fontane / Brandenburg Medical School Theodor-Fontane
Medizinische Universität Innsbruck
Medizinische Universität Wien
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Technische Universität Dresden
Universität Basel
Universität des Saarlandes (UdS)
Universität Greifswald
Universität Köln
Universitätsklinikum Göttingen
Universitätsmedizin Rostock
Universität Ulm
Universität zu Lübeck
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität (WWU) Münster

How to cite

Waschke, J., Bergmann, M., Bräuer, L., Brenner, E., Buchhorn, A., Deutsch, A.,... Paulsen, F. (2019). Recommendations of the working group of the Anatomische Gesellschaft on reduction of formaldehyde exposure in anatomical curricula and institutes. Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger, 221, 179-185.

Waschke, Jens, et al. "Recommendations of the working group of the Anatomische Gesellschaft on reduction of formaldehyde exposure in anatomical curricula and institutes." Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger 221 (2019): 179-185.


Last updated on 2019-04-03 at 21:08