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Q: One of our offices takes tissue for biopsy where it is placed into a small glass bottle containing formaldehyde. The bottle is only opened long enough to put the biopsy inside and then immediately closed. What are the restrictions, labeling, etc. required for working with that substance?

A: OSHA's HazCom regulation requires a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for formaldehyde. Also, formaldehyde containers must be labeled with their identity and the hazard warning. Don't worry about air exposure limits if workers know not to leave jars of formaldehyde open for longer than a few seconds. Only when one of your employees is required to pour formaldehyde from a large container into smaller bottles (or another similar activity) do you need to worry about OSHA's chemical hygiene standard, which imposes exposure limits to formaldehyde vapors.

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