What is Formalin?

What is Formalin?

  • Formalin is a chemical of 37–50 percent aqueous solution of dissolved formaldehyde (CH2O) in water.


What is the use of formalin?

  • Formalin is a preservative mostly used in forensic museums and morgues where autopsies are conducted.
  • Other usage includes pressed wood products, paper, textile fibers, adhesives and plastics, carpeting, foam insulation, cosmetics, nail hardeners, disinfectant, and some cleaning products


What is the permissible limit for Formalin in foods?

  • There is no permissible limit for formalin.
  • It is not permitted for use in foods as per Food Safety and Standards Regulation, 2011.


What are the side effects if food is contaminated with formalin?

  • Allergy, asthma , abdominal pain and vomiting.
  • Formalin is significantly related with cancer particularly nasopharyngeal cancer in humans through inhalation during occupational exposure and sometimes caused gastrointestinal cancer when administered with drinking water with high concentration.
  • Formalin belongs to Group 1 of carcinogens.


Why is Formalin used on fishes?         

  • Formalin helps delay decomposition of fish. The Normal shelf life of fish is two days while by use of formalin it does not decay for over 15 days.


Factors leading to increase in use of Formalin on fishes

  • Unavailability of good quality ice at harvest centres
  • Inadequate insulation during domestic transport
  • Lack of warehousing facility for bulk storage of fish


What is a carconigen?

  • Cancer is caused by changes in a cell’s DNA. Some of these changes may be inherited and others may be caused by outside exposures, which are referred to as environmental factors.
  • Environmental factors can include a wide range of exposures, such as:
  1. Lifestyle factors (nutrition, tobacco use, physical activity, etc.)
  2. Naturally occurring exposures (ultraviolet light, radon gas, infectious agents, etc.)
  3. Medical treatments (radiation and medicines including chemotherapy, hormone drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system, etc.)
  4. Workplace exposures
  5. Household exposures
  6. Pollution
  • Substances and exposures that can lead to cancer are called carcinogens. Carcinogens do not cause cancer in every case, all the time. Substances labeled as carcinogens may have different levels of cancer-causing potential.


International Agency for Research on Cancer

  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • The IARC has evaluated the cancer-causing potential of various chemical, biological agents etc, placing them into one of the following groups:
  1. Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans
  2. Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans
  3. Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans
  4. Group 3: Unclassifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans
  5. Group 4: Probably not carcinogenic to humans
Section : Environment & Ecology