Dissection & Vivisection

Dissection Issues

Environmental Hazards

Chemicals used to preserve dead specimens; such as formaldehyde and formalin (diluted form of formaldehyde) are respiratory irritants, carcinogenic in humans, and environmental pollutants. Careless or irresponsible disposal of these preservatives or animal remains can contaminate water and soil and potentially harm wildlife.

Habitat Depletion

A curriculum that promotes the natural roles of animals in their ecosystem and as individuals in the web of life presents a far more practical and accurate lesson in life science. The removal of animals from their natural habitats for use in classrooms can disrupt the ecosystem and sets a negative example for wildlife conservation and environmental protection-two vital concepts for future scientists.

Health Concerns

After animals are killed specifically for dissection purposes they are often preserved with formaldehyde, a nearly colorless and highly irritating gas with a sharp odor. It dissolves easily in water and is found in formalin and formaldehyde solution containing water. Formaldehyde is a probable human carcinogen. According to literature obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this chemical preservative can be linked to cancer of the throat, lungs, and nasal passages. Those exposed to formaldehyde risk damage to the eyes, skin irritation, bronchitis, and asthma attacks. Children may be more susceptible to the respiratory effects of formaldehyde than adults, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).