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Damien Hirst

Cancer fears raised over Damien Hirst’s iconic pickled animal art


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 21, 2016 | 2 min read

Flamboyant artist Damien Hirst’s most famous artworks, a series of animal carcasses preserved in formaldehyde, have come back to haunt him following publication of research suggesting they have been releasing dangerously high levels of carcinogenic gas.

Fears have been expressed that gallery attendants may have been exposed to levels of formaldehyde gas of up to ten time the legal limit from works including Away from the Flock, which showcased a sheep suspended in formaldehyde.

Covert researchers attended a gallery showcasing the artist’s work wearing sensitive gas detectors strapped to their wrists and even in modified iPhones to rumble the artist, at which point they discovered formaldehyde particles in the air five parts per million – ten times the safe limit established by the EU.

Whilst this isn’t likely to have been a concern for passing visitors, gallery attendants may have cause for concern according to Pier Giorgio Righetti, professor of chemistry at Milan Polytechnic. He told The Times: “I think it would have been a serious issue if the work had been there for a few months.

Upon learning that the exhibition had run for five months Righetti exclaimed:“Five months! Those poor workers. They have a problem there.”

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