Home Safety Alert | Chemical incident


03 May 2021 - 21 Dec 2021

Safety Alert | Chemical incident

SAFETY ALERT | A chemical exposure incident was recently reported where a researcher had a paraformaldehyde solution splash to the face. They were not wearing safety glasses at the time, they received appropriate first aid and eventually given the all clear. Although there were no adverse reactions in this instance, it is an important reminder that formaldehyde splashed in the eye can cause irreversible damage to the cornea. Safety glasses must always be worn when working with formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde/Formalin/Paraformaldehyde is a confirmed carcinogen (IARC Group 1), a reproductive toxin and a sensitizing agent that can cause an immune system response upon initial exposure. Subsequent exposure may cause severe allergic reactions of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Long-term or repeated exposure to low levels in the air or on the skin can cause asthma-like respiratory problems and skin irritation such as dermatitis and itching. Acute exposure can be highly irritating to the eyes, nose and throat. Eye contact can result in corneal damage or blindness.

AVOID INHALATION | Perform all operations in a certified chemical fume hood
AVOID CONTACT | Wear PPE -Long sleeve lab coat, enclosed footwear, safety glasses and nitrile gloves. Weighing/handling of solid paraformaldehyde powder must be done inside an enclosed balance within a certified chemical fume hood. If weighing paraformaldehyde in an enclosed scale on an open bench is the only method available, cleaning the bench near the enclosed scale and the inside of the scale with wetted paper towel is mandatory after each use. Dispose the paper towels as chemical waste in an appropriate container. Keep all chemical containers clearly labelled and securely closed when not in use.

Before working with any laboratory chemical you MUST
  • Review the Safety Data Sheet –see ChemAlert
  • Identify the health and safety information
  • Adhere to the recommended risk controls including PPE
  • Understand the first aid, spill and emergency measures.

For further information |
 See the Chemical Management Policy

Remember |
Any workplace incidents, near-misses or hazards must be reported within 24 hours via the intranet incident report. For further enquiries or feedback, please email
Hudson - Institute of Medical Research


27–31 Wright Street
Clayton VIC 3168

t: +61 3 8572 2700


ABN: 48 132 025 024

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