Formaldehyde Exposure Levels and Serum Antibodies to Formaldehyde-Human Serum Albumin of Korean Medical Students

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ABSTRACT.In our study, we estimated formaldehyde exposure levels of Korean medical students during their cadaver dissection practice hours. In addition, we examine the prevalence rates of formaldehyde-specific immunoglobulin E or immunoglobulin G antibodies and compared the results with the symptoms the students experienced as a result of formaldehyde exposure. There were 167 Korean medical students (i.e., subjects) aged 23.8 ± 2.5 y (mean ± standard deviation) and a control group of 67 premedical students aged 20.1 ± 2.8 y (mean ± standard deviation). Concentrations of formaldehyde in the cadaver dissection practice laboratory ranged from 0.194 to 11.245 mg/m3 (3.736 ± 3.478 mg/m3 [mean ±standard deviation]). Students reported by self-administered questionnaires that eye soreness (92.8%) and lacrimation (74.9%) were the most common symptoms they experienced during the laboratory sessions. One (0.6%) of the 167 medical students had a history of wheezing during dissection. Fourteen (8.4%) had specific immunoglobulin G antibody, but none had specific immunoglobulin E antibody. These results suggest that (a) Korean medical students are exposed to formaldehyde at a relatively high levels in their dissection practice hours, (b) specific immunoglobulin G is not related to adverse eye or respiratory symptoms, and (c) specific immunoglobulin E is rarely induced as a result of exposure to formaldehyde.

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