(Received 24 April 1989; accepted 19 June 1989)
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Formalin-fixed tissues and formalin solutions are among the most frequently found materials in pathology and forensic science laboratories. However, these materials are seldom used for the identification of poisons for forensic toxicology purposes. In this study, the possibility that paraquat may be released from formalin-fixed tissues during the fixation process was investigated. However, because of the interference of formaldehyde on the reduction of paraquat with dithionite reagent, paraquat in formalin solutions was treated with ion-pair column chromatography and then determined by measuring the derivative spectrum of reduced paraquat. The results show that the interference of formalin on paraquat determination has been eliminated by the proposed method. Furthermore, a study on the formalin solutions of fixed organs in cases with suspected paraquat intoxication revealed that portions of tissue paraquat had been released into formalin during the fixation process. Moreover, the paraquat levels in formalin increased with increased storage time. Therefore, these data suggest that the combined concentrations of paraquat in the formalin-fixed tissues and formalin solutions might reflect more reliably the total paraquat in the postmortem tissues. This investigation could be of value to the forensic toxicologist, especially in cases in which no fresh tissue samples are available for analysis.
Associate professor, Toxicology Laboratory, Department of Legal Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan,
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