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Safety Check: Animals Perfused with Paraformaldehyde and Formalin

Safety SOP

Formalin safety checklist icon

Formalin and paraformaldehyde (PFA) are used as fixatives that act to preserve and stabilize cells and tissues prior to the examination process. The most common application of these agents is transcardial perfusion.

Because formalin and PFA solutions emit formaldehyde gas, a known human carcinogen, safe handling of these agents and the appropriate disposal of all affected carcasses is essential.

Use the checklist below to ensure that you are following best practices for the use of PFA and formalin:

IACUC Protocol

  • Ensure that perfusion is described in your animal use protocol
  • List PFA in the Hazards section of your animal use protocol
  • Indicate which staff are exposed to hazards in the Animal Handling Details
  • Accept department of Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Findings and Recommendations for PFA and share with your lab staff

Safety and Handling

Carcass Disposal

  • Double bag the carcass, sealing closed each bag (e.g., two unused gloves)
  • Place fixed carcasses and tissues in an EHS-approved waste container labeled as hazardous waste
  • Properly fill out the Hazardous Waste Label (review instructions) with Chemical and Accumulation Start Date
  • Keep all waste containers closed UNLESS actively adding waste to the container
  • Fill out manifest (review instructions) and call EHS Hazmat at (734) 763-4568 to schedule a waste collection

Please use the following guide for more information:



You need detailed information concerning handling and use of formalin/formaldehyde or have concerns about exposure

Contact EHS at

Refer to the U-M’s SOP on Formalin and Paraformaldehyde (note: clicking on the link will download a Word document copy of the SOP)

You need waste containers, labels, manifests, waste collection or have any questions regarding proper waste disposal

Contact EHS-Hazardous Materials Management (HMM) at (734) 763-4568

You need information about carcass disposal within animal spaces

Contact your facility’s ULAM Husbandry Supervisorrequires Level-1 U-M login credentials

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