Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 09:59:52 EST
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM
Subject: Re: Paraformaldehyde - carcinogen or not?


I couldn't agree more.  And interesting that you would use n-hexane as an example.  In the 1980s here in the U.S., there were a number of lawsuits filed for damages from n-hexane exposure.  I'm particularly familiar with them because two of those suits were brought by artists, one against a printmaking product manufacturing company and the other against 3M.  Both involved hefty settlements for the artists who were significantly impaired for life with peripheral neuropathy.

Perhaps your proposal to find a replacements for n-hexane should be reconsidered.  If they don't want to replace it for ethical reasons, maybe they will want to do it for economic ones.  The reason is that peripheral neuropathy from n-hexane (and a couple of other chemicals including methyl butyl ketone) can be identified on nerve biopsy and associated with exposure to these chemicals rather associated with the various diseases that can cause neuropathy.

It was this fact that made the lawsuits successful and got n-hexane removed voluntarily from consumer products.  It was replaced in rubber cement, paint thinners, and other products with n-heptane, which is far less toxic.  As usual, memory appears to be fading as I'm seeing occasional use of the stuff again in art and consumer products.

But for those chemists who are suffering from loss of sensation and coordination, especially in the lower legs and feet, you might want to check in with an occupational medical doctor or an occupationally oriented toxicologist.  (Your regular doc will be clueless.)  This can't be fixed, but somebody may owe you some financial assistance.

And since we were talking about students, someone in the department should be thinking about students who may already be diagnosed with, or even partially disabled with, neurological impairments.  Should these students be working with this potent neurotoxic chemical?  And just who should make this decision?  And what information should be available to the doctor, the student and/or the parents to constitute "informed consent" to take this risk?

These questions are especially important when you consider that n-hexane exposure cannot be controlled by ventilation alone.  It is also a skin absorber and will pentrate many types of chemical gloves.

I agree with you, Allan.  Replace it.

Monona Rossol

PS, In a few months, I'll be holding a 3-day occupational safety/health training at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for art conservators. I'm busy reading all the ARBO regs.  If you are vacationing in the area between March 27 and April 3 and feel so inclined, you can catch my act or have a drink with me and my husband.  MR

In a message dated 12/7/2009 8:26:17 AM Eastern Standard Time, ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU writes:

From: "Allan Astrup Jensen" <aaj**At_Symbol_Here**>

Date: December 7, 2009 4:11:51 AM EST

Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] 2 RE: [DCHAS-L] Paraformaldehyde - carcinogen or not?

Dear Monona,
Protection is fine but substitution of very dangerous chemicals is better! I cannot understand e.g. why n-hexane is still one of the most used solvents in standardized analytical methods for lipophilic chemicals, when we know the danger of peripheral neuropathy. It is easy to substitute. It is the only alkane with that particular effect.

And that is only one example; there are many others, including with carcinogens. Why are chemists so conservative, careless or ignorant??? Years ago I was member of a CEN WG supposed to solve the problem of substituting dangerous reagents in analytical standard methods - but it showed up impossible!

Yours truly,
Allan Astrup Jensen

Technical Vice President
Secretariat for Quality Management and Metrology

FORCE Technology, Br=F8ndby
Park All=E9 345
2605 Br=F8ndby

Phone: +45 43 26 70 00
Direct: +45 43 26 70 81
Mobile: +45 40 94 10 22
Fax: +45 43 26 70 11
e-mail: aaj**At_Symbol_Here**


This email and any files transmitted with it may contain confidential
information intended for the addressee(s) only. The information is not to be
surrendered or copied to unauthorised persons. If you have received
this communication in error, please notify us immediately by email at: info**At_Symbol_Here**

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.