Via WWLTV in New Orleans:
An office building was evacuated after a spill of a chemical used in root canals caused some skin irritation among a handful of employees who came in contact with it Thursday just before noon.
The incident occurred in the 2200 block of Simon Bolivar at a dental office in the Central City Health Clinic.
According to the New Orleans Fire Department, about an ounce of Formal Crimosol [sic], a chemical used to perform root canals, was spilled on the second floor of the building. Four employees were in the area of the spill and two had direct contact. They were all treated for skin irritation and the rest of the people in the building were evacuated.
Actually, the stuff is called formocresol, and it’s used in a procedure called a pulpotomy, typically performed on kids with deep tooth decay – a sort of root canal for primary teeth. A blend of formaldehyde, cresol, glycerin and water, formocresol is applied to the inside of a decayed tooth before glass ionomer and a filling are placed on the tooth. If all goes as planned, the remaining dental pulp is mummified. The idea is to retain the tooth until it falls out naturally.
And, as this news item shows, an ounce of it spilled is enough to cause skin irritation even without a person having to touch it directly.
Mmmmm. Good stuff!
We’ve written before about the toxic potential of formocresol and some nontoxic alternatives. (Even conventional dentists have expressed concern about formocresol’s safety and efficacy [PDF].) We recommend all parents read this and other articles on the topic when facing treatment decisions when deep decay is an issue for their kids.