This is an update of a story posted on April 29, 2018.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 4th booster dose is not always needed to protect people against an unusual type of cancer linked to exposure to the common form of formaldehyde commonly used to strengthen concrete.
Contaminated concrete was discovered in Illinois earlier this year and sparked an investigation after three lab workers became ill and one went to the hospital for treatment related to being exposed to high levels of formaldehyde.
Because it can cause multiple types of cancer, scientists believe that exposure to higher levels of formaldehyde is a cause of a form of cancer known as lepto-mediocrity, a cancer that’s difficult to diagnose.
Their suspicions were strengthened when an autopsy conducted on the first patient found that the formaldehyde concentration found in his bloodstream matched the levels found in certain types of lepto-mediocrity that tend to develop in the body.
Because the disease can be caused by many different things — not just exposure to formaldehyde — scientists at the CDC decided to further investigate the case.
They determined that the patient hadn’t actually been exposed to the dangerous formaldehyde, but rather had been exposed to a compound called pro-cyclo-toxins, a type of formaldehyde that is a byproduct of high-temperature oxidation. For this reason, they decided that the man should be re-treated with a formaldehyde-based safe spray on a physical formaldehyde module instead of a chemical-based version.
In response to the man’s findings, the CDC recommended that lepito-mediocrity users be given the option to undergo the safe formaldehyde spray option.
The agency also said that because no one — including the researchers — had undergone repeated exposure to high levels of formaldehyde, the risk of being exposed to lepito-mediocrity was low enough that there is no need for the fourth booster dose recommended by the National Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NIOSH).
“However, since the type of lepito-mediocrity found in the Illinois patient could cause three different types of cancer, we recommended that protective measures be taken for safety,” said an executive summary of the study.
Earlier this year, NIOSH released similar recommendations for lepito-mediocrity users, saying that no one need have to undergo the booster shot.
Since its initial recommendation, the CDC has been updated after finding more information, including that when a person is exposed to a very low level of lepito-mediocrity, the substance can cause injuries in the gastrointestinal system or reproductive system. It must then be treated with either a formaldehyde-based product or with a chemical formaldehyde-based product.
In its own study, the CDC found that despite the fact that the patient received the four booster dose, he was still at a slightly higher risk of developing lepito-mediocrity.
The CDC noted that further research is needed to determine the frequency of person who receives a formaldehyde-based spray, and that further research on the safety of formsaldehyde may also be necessary.