Report from ANSES founds no suitable alternative to formalin for medical use

08 March 2019
In 2014, a study was commissioned by French agency ANSES to study the available substitution products to formaldehyde in anatomo-pathology.

Anatomo-pathology is a medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the macroscopicmicroscopic, biochemical, immunologic and molecular examination of organs and tissues. While it used to be based on historical examination of whole bodies (autopsy), this medical specialty has evolved to a more modernized practice, centered on the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer to guide treatment decision-making in oncology. Formalin (aqueous solution of formaldehyde) is used in anatomopathology as a fixer to study the samples and compare them with existing databases.

In its final version, open for comments, the study concluded (non-official translation) « Eventually, as far as our knowlegde reaches, no substitution product matches all 3 technical criteria flagged by ANSES’ experts. Indeed, while some alternatives in this study demonstrated good results only on some analytical methods, but never on all of them. Criteria « Biocide potential » and « 10 years preservation of a sample » could not be assessed because of lack of data »;

Link in French here.