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Funeral Workers Have Increased Risk of Cancer From Exposure to Formaldehyde

Sunday, December 27, 2009 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: funeral homes, formaldehyde, health news

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(NaturalNews) A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has revealed that morticians who use formaldehyde to embalm dead bodies have an increased risk of developing leukemia. A sampling of 400 funeral workers found that those who worked with the toxin were more likely to die from myeloid leukemia than those who were not exposed to it.

Commonly used in the industry to prevent bodies from decomposing, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen recognized by the National Cancer Institute. The toxin is used for other purposes as well including rat poison, fungicide, germicide and disinfectant. It is also conventionally used in building materials and pressed-wood products as an adhesive.

A similar study found that formaldehyde exposure greatly increases one's risk of developing other types of cancer. More than 25,000 industrial workers had been sampled, revealing that those with the highest exposure increased their risk of death by 50 percent compared to those with the lowest exposure. After several decades, this number dropped to 37 percent, indicating that the risk gradually decreases over time after exposure has ended.

Myeloid leukemia is the most common disease associated with formaldehyde exposure. Those with the highest exposure were found to be 78 percent more likely to develop and die from the disease than those with the lowest exposure. Prolonged exposure also significantly increased risk.

In 2008, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made a proposal for some alternative preservatives that are safer and less toxic than formaldehyde. Research conducted by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute helped form recommendations for formaldehyde alternatives in significant areas where formaldehyde is used including in cosmetology, hardwood and structural materials, and embalming.

Various companies also claim to produce non-toxic embalming solutions for morticians that reduce or eliminate exposure to dangerous toxins like formaldehyde. School biology labs across the country have been encouraged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to replace formaldehyde-based solutions used for animal dissection with alternative solutions that are formaldehyde-free.

It is always beneficial to seek out safer, more natural solutions to replace standard, often toxic, methods that most people have become accustomed to using. Just because certain formulas have been used for as long as most people can remember does not mean that they are the best and only option. More often than not, there is a natural alternative to the otherwise dangerous chemical solutions that plague our workplaces, schools, and homes.

Sources for this story include: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5AJ4TD... http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet... http://www.health.am/cr/more/formaldehyde-ra... http://www.eoearth.org/article/Alternatives_...
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