So...I've spent the last couple of afternoons in an anatomy lab, with some brains in buckets (a course I was on).
Amazing (I have held a brain in my hand!) but...they keep them in formaldehyde. Well, formalin, techically, but it has formaldehyde in it...
Anyway...I didn't really worry about it that much before - wondered vaguely if it might be an issue but was more worried about whether to wear contacts as the protocol sheet mentioned something about this (was fine in the end with them). The smell in the air wasn't too bad, and apart from a bit of coughing when the buckets were opened I was ok on the first day. Second day I had less exposure (we were looking at models and pics more though the actual brains were still out), but lungs seemed to be complaining more and they seemed rather unhappy last night and today!
It's not too bad, but was a bit surprised given it was ok on the first day so figured I wasn't going to have an issue. Maybe it builds up, but 2 days? - I know there are medical students on here with what sounds like much worse asthma than mine, who presumably have managed to get through whole terms of working round formalin without expiring?!
So 2 afternoons doesn't seem like it would be enough to set things off (maybe if it had been a week?). I don't want to be a massive hypochondriac about it, especially as I don't normally spend time in anatomy labs - my course focuses on cognitive functions so nice non-smelly MRIs - but would be good to know more about other people's experiences/precautions you take in case I do 'wet-lab' things again - I did enjoy it!