Development of a ventilation concept for dissecting rooms used for practical anatomy sessions

Project No. IFA 3141


completed 05/2018


As part of their preclinical training, medical students at German universities work on donated human bodies in practical anatomy sessions. The donated bodies are prepared (fixed) by the prosector for use in the anatomy sessions. Solutions which may contain formaldehyde are used for this purpose. Formaldehyde is a suspected human carcinogen (classification K1B). Measurements conducted in selected anatomical institutes by the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector revealed substantially elevated formaldehyde concentrations. One basic means of reducing the formaldehyde exposure during a practical anatomy session to a minimum is for the formaldehyde fraction in the fixing and preservation solutions to be reduced and the contaminated air at the dissecting benches to be collected efficiently.

The form of preparation of the donated bodies differs according to the anatomical practical session; the procedure followed for the anatomical practical session also differs from institute to institute. In addition, major differences exist between the institutes' ventilation arrangements (fresh air supply above the dissecting benches, fresh air supply in the room, direct extraction at the dissecting benches, air exhaust arrangements in the room). The aim of the project was to develop a ventilation concept employing direct extraction at the dissecting bench for rooms used for anatomical practical sessions, in order to reduce the formaldehyde exposure during the sessions.


In conjunction with the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector, a ventilation concept was developed for rooms used for anatomical practical sessions. An engineering office for ventilation technology was commissioned to develop a suitable concept. The ventilation concept was to cover both room ventilation and the supply of fresh air and extraction of air at the dissection bench. This also included development of a dissection bench with direct extraction.


The optimized ventilation system resulting from the development work consists of a dissection bench with extraction on the cyclone principle, a laminar fresh airflow field above the dissecting bench, and layered ventilation in the room. Together with the procedural and organizational measures, the resulting concept of a concerted ventilation system enables the statutory requirements concerning the limit value for formaldehyde to be observed during anatomical practical sessions.

Last Update:

11 Sep 2018


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)

public service


allergenic substances, chemical working substances, exposure

Description, key words:

formaldehyde, anatomy, ventilation, direct extraction