FORMALIN - SPILL CONTROL
- REMOVE contaminated clothing immediately
- Raise the ALARM- notify warden or supervisor & obtain assistance
- ISOLATE the area if necessary- close doors, restrict pedestrian access
- EVACUATE staff to a safer area if necessary
- STOP the source of the spill if safe to do so
Formalin Spill Kits
Spill kits specifically designed for formalin are commercially available and are highly recommended for all areas in which 10% formalin is used. Details on formalin spill kit suppliers can be provided on request.
The Anatomical Pathology Unit is unable to supply Formalin spill kits to users.
Absorbent/neutraliser for a large volume formalin spill are held in Anatomical Pathology.
Pre-filled specimen containers have tight fitting tops with little probability of leaking. Most spills will involve an unlidded container being knocked over. In most situations the volume of spilt formalin will be minor. A standard 70ml histopathology specimen pot contains approximately 30 ml of 10% formalin. A minor spill is capable of being cleaned up without assistance and does not require an emergency response.
Minor Formalin Spill (less than 100ml):
1. Alert others in the area of the spill.
2. Wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (minimum of gloves, gown & eyewear), absorb the spilled material with paper towels or absorbent spill powder. Place any paper towels into a yellow contaminated waste bag and seal to minimize the release of formaldehyde vapours. Do not dispose into a general waste bin.
Using a Formalin spill absorbent is highly recommended as it absorbs the spill and neutralises the odour. The Formalin absorbent should be allowed to react for 5 minutes before being collected and bagged.
3. Wash the contaminated area two times with some soap and water. Dry the area with paper towel. Place used paper towels into a yellow clinical waste bag. Seal the bag tightly. Dispose of as contaminated waste.
Moderate Formalin Spill (100 ml to 1000 ml):
1. Evacuate the immediate area of unnecessary personnel to limit exposure to irritating fumes. It is recommended to call a code Yellow if the spill volume is greater than 500 ml. If in doubt about how to handle the situation contact the Anatomical Pathology Unit (907 63150).
2. Wear protective clothing, gloves (nitrile preferred), disposable long sleeved gown or overalls, safety goggles, waterproof footwear or shoe covers and an appropriate chemical respirator (e.g. Moldex 8000 series organic chemical respirator).
3. Quickly block or contain size and spread of spill by using absorbent spill control material (powder, granules, pillows or bunds). Use of a formalin spill kit is preferable. Encircle the spill perimeter using the absorptive material. Mix absorbent into spill working from the outside in. If using formalin neutralizing agents, wait 5 - 10 minutes until the reaction stops.
4. Scrape up absorbed spill residue with a plastic pan or remove pillows and bunds. Place material in a yellow contaminated waste bag. Seal the bag tightly to minimize the release of formaldehyde fumes. Dispose of as contaminated waste.
5. Wash the contaminated area two times with some soap and water. Dry the area with paper towels. Make sure to place paper towels into a contaminated waste bag. Seal the bag to minimize the release of fumes. Dispose of as contaminated waste.
Major Formalin Spill (greater than 1000 ml):
Do not put yourself or others at risk dealing with a major spill without assistance.
1. Immediately call a code Yellow Emergency response.
(Dial 88 and identify the incident as a Formalin spill)
Evacuate the area to limit exposure to irritating fumes.
2. Contain the size and spread of spill if possible. PPE consists of gloves (nitrile preferred), disposable long sleeved gown or overalls, waterproof footwear or shoe covers, a full face organic chemical respirator or self contained breathing apparatus. Encircle the spill perimeter using absorptive material. Mix absorbent into spill working from the outside in. Wearing protective equipment and only if safe to do so, attempt to contain the spill using absorbent spill control material. Application of a formalin absorbent and neutraliser (e.g. Spilfyter Formaldehyde Solidifier) is preferred but general chemical absorbents, pillows or bunds may be used.
3. Await arrival of Emergency Response Personnel. Clean up of the affected area should only be done with the assistance of Emergency Response Personnel.
LEAKY SPECIMENS CONTAINERS:
Specimen containers may sometimes leak due to a poorly secured lid. Leaking containers containing a specimen should be left inside their specimen transport bag and transferred immediately to Anatomical Pathology. If external surfaces of the transport bag are contaminated place inside a new specimen bag or clip-lock bag to contain the fumes.
If a new container or carton of containers is found to be leaking place inside a specimen transport bag or larger clip-lock bag and transfer to Anatomical Pathology for disposable.
Larger specimen containers are sometimes unable to be transported inside a specimen bag. If leakage occurs inside a courier esky or crate, close the lid and transfer immediately to Anatomical Pathology where the contents can be sorted with the aid of a down draft ventilation table.
Large quantities of Formalin containers should not to be stored in clinical areas unless a Formalin Spill kit is available. Formalin must be stored at room temp (15ºC - 25ºC). Do not refrigerate formalin containers as this will cause polymerisation of the solution. Formalin should be stored away from strong acids (particularly hydrochloric and sulphuric acid) and oxidisers.