Careful with that formaldehyde

Funeral directors face a much greater risk of dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a deadly neurodegenerative disease, than the rest of the population.

Research published by the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry suggests the cause could be long and frequent exposure to formaldehyde, the highly toxic chemical used in embalming the dead.

The research is based on an extremely broad set of data, the US Longitudinal Mortality Survey of 1.5 million Americans, which has been running for more than three decades.

Formaldehyde prevents bacteria from attacking the skin of a corpse, fending off decomposition and giving a more natural appearance for viewing.


Picture source: Davidrase via Wikimedia Commons