Platelet count and platelets indices of mortuary workers exposed to formaldehyde: a study in Calabar, Nigeria

Ifeyinwa Maryann Okafor, Bisong Emmanuel Ogon, Henshaw Uchechi Okoroiwu, Ogar Christopher Ogar


Background: Embalming chemicals such as formaldehyde has been shown to be toxic to human system. It’s carcinogenicity effect and ability to cause adverse health conditions has been reported. Formalin is the aqueous solution of formaldehyde and it is converted to H2C (OH)2 when dissolved in water. This study was done to provide information on the effect of formaldehyde on the platelet count and platelet indices of mortuary workers.

Methods: Total of 64 subjects were recruited for the study based on convenience sampling method in Calabar, Cross River State. The test group comprised of 32 mortuary workers with age ranging from 18-60 years from University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, General Hospital, Navy Hospital, Anatomy Department-University of Calabar and Infectious Disease Hospital, all in Calabar Meteropolis and 32 non-mortuary workers of the same age bracket from Calabar municipality served as control. Sample collection was by venipuncture and method of analysis was by the use of automated haematology analyzer.

Results: This study shows that mean platelet volume (MPV) and platelet distribution width were significantly increased p<0.01) in mortuary workers. The platelet count of mortuary workers were also significantly decreased (p=0.918) when compared to non-mortuary workers. Three out of thirty two mortuary workers had giant forms of platelet. The result also shows that long term exposure to formaldehyde can cause a reduction in the platelet count and platelet indices of mortuary workers.

Conclusions: This study has shown that exposure to formaldehyde has a negative alteration on the platelet count and platelet indices of mortuary workers.


Platelets, Platelet indices, Mortuary workers, Formaldehyde

Full Text:



Curtis DR. The basis of funeral services. History of embalming. New York: New York chemical publishing co; 2001: 34-5.

Mangum JG, Darling J, Menten KM, Henkel C. Formaldehyde densitometry of starburst galaxies. Astrophysics. 2008;673(1):832-46.

Mayer RC. Embalming: history, theory and practices. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: McGraw-Hill publishers; 2006: 5-12.

Okafor IM, Inyang SE, Thompson BE. Carboxyhaemoglobin, methaemoglobin and sulphaemoglobin level are increased in automobile workers and spray painters; a study in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. Int J Res Rep Hematol. 2019;2(2):1-9.

Costa S, Pins C, Coelho P, Costa C, Silva S, Mayan O, et al. Genotoxic damage in pathology anatomy laboratory workers exposed to formaldehyde. Toxicology. 2008;252(1-3):40-8.

Yang WH. Hemogram of workers exposed to low concentration of formaldehyde Prac Preven Med. 2007;14(3):792-9.

Huang W, Lu Y, Chang X, Bai LZ, Lui W. Indoor air pollution in newly redecorated rooms. J Environ Heal. 2007;24(2):101-3.

Feng Y, Wang W, Jiang Z, Hu G, Zhang S, Zhang H. Health status of wood workers exposed to formaldehyde. Anhui J Preven Med. 1996;2(2):99-100.

Zhang L, Steinmaus C, Eastmond DA, Xin XK, Smith MT. Formaldehyde exposure and leukemia: A new meta-analysis and potential mechanisms. Muta Red. 2009;681:150-68.

Odiegwu CNC, Use RC, Onwurah OW, Okey-onyesolu CF, Odiegwu UO. Assessment of some haematological parameters of mortuary workers exposed to embalmment chemicals in some mortuaries in Anambra State. J Hematol Thrombo Dis. 2018;6(2):288.

Abha S, Rochi V. Role of platelet distribution width (PDW) and plateletcrit in the assessment of nonthrombocytopenic preeclampsia and eclampsia. J Obstetr Gyneocol India. 2018;68(4):289-93.

Chris IJ. Platelets function and old age. Mammalian Genome. 2016;27:358-66.