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Information @ a Glance

Introduction

  • Formalin is a saturated solution of formaldehyde, water, and typically another agent, most commonly methanol. In its typical form, formalin is 37% formaldehyde by weight (40% by volume), 6-13% methanol, and the rest water. A quick glance at any commercially available formalin product will confirm these numbers.

Process

  • Formalin is the aqueous form of formaldehyde produced mostly from methanol by an oxidation process.

  • The two processes known to produce formalin from methanol--methanol excess and air excess. The basic difference between them is the catalyst applied. The methanol excess process, called the silver process, employs silver as the catalyst while the air excess process uses metallic oxides of iron and molybdenum.

  • Formalin can be produced on a smaller scale using a whole range of other methods including conversion from ethanol instead of the normally-fed methanol feedstock. Such methods are of less commercial importance.

Applications

  • Formalin is one of the most widely and frequently used chemicals for treating fish with fungal or ectoparasitic infections.

  • Formalin is used as a bath treatment to control external parasitic infections of fish. It is extremely effective against most protozoans, as well as some of the larger parasites such as monogenetic trematodes.

Techniques

  • The formalin-tween technique was effective for ascertaining helminths, particularly Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm eggs; however it has less capability for protozoa detection. This method is simple, inexpensive, less time consuming and highly sensitive when detecting the parasitic infection, particularly when focusing on helminth eggs.

  • Formalin is used to store biological specimens in laboratories, even preserving human bodies in medical profession known as embalm to prevent the tissues from natural decomposition.

Report

  • The Centre of Indian Consumer Protection and Research (Coinpar), a consumer rights organisation in the city, which tested eight brands of milk available in the market and also milk sold by cycle vendors, has reported the presence of the chemical, formalin, in three samples.

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