Can Formaldehyde Exposure Lead To ALS?

Lou Gehrig’s disease also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an untreatable and crippling disease that was thrown into the limelight last year by the popular Ice Bucket Challenge.

A new research carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health say that persons who breathe formaldehyde fumes as a part of their work have three times increased the risk of developing ALS.

The study that was published in the Journal of Nephrology and Psychiatry revealed that funeral homes, where the embalming process takes place, can pose a serious threat to their employees.

study author Andrea Roberts feels that the study is important since the cause of ALS is still not known, and the disease is 1005 and rapidly fatal.

The latest findings have strengthened the suspected link between formaldehyde or formalin and ALS. The study was carried out under the stewardship of Andrea Roberts, who is a research associate associated with the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H.

Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. Andrea and her associates studies around 1.5 million people from 1973 until they succumbed to disease.


The researchers obtained the occupational data and collated them on the basis of formaldehyde exposure matrix and calculated the intensity and the probability of exposure of each occupation were taken into consideration.

It was discovered that men with a high probability of formaldehyde exposure were three times more likely to die of ALS as compared to men with no exposure.

The data for men were freely available. However, there are not enough women who are into the job of funeral homes and hence it was not possible to calculate the risk in Women.

The researchers wrote that their interpretation must be evaluated and interpreted cautiously. Jobs that involve high exposure to formaldehyde is uncommon in US and ALS is also rare. There was only two death from ALS in the US.