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Making sense of chemical stories

Guide for the lifestyle sector and anybody with questions about chemical stories

Jun 18, 2014
Making sense of chemical stories

Anxiety about chemicals is a big part of the discussion about lifestyle and modern living, says a recent publication by the organization “Sense about science”, a charity that “equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion”. The authors say that today’s lifestyle columns discuss health, food, family and environment, but also spread misconceptions about what chemicals are. The newly published guide wants to address some of the misconceptions.
 
Misconception #1, they say, is the idea of leading a chemical-free life. They go on to explain that the world is made of chemicals – we only refer to things by more familiar names. To illustrate this point, they ask a challenging question: If someone offered you a cocktail of “butanol, isoamyl alcohol, hexanol, phenylethanol, tannin, benzyl alcohol, caffeine, geraniol, quercetin, 3-galloyl epicatchin, 3-galloylepigallocatchin, and inorganic salts,” would you drink it?

Well the answer is yes, you probably would, because this is just the chemical description of a simple cup of tea. Using this simple example they show that claims of products being “chemical free” are simply untrue. There are no alternatives to chemicals, just choices about which chemicals to use and how they are made.

Chemicals are part of our daily lives and are all around us in the food we eat, the clothes we wear as well and the homes we live in. So next time someone suggests we need a world without chemicals to improve bee health; it may be worth challenging them on this point.

For those of you who are interested in the topic, we will discuss some of the other misconceptions in the weeks to come.
So stay tuned.

To read the complete guide: Click here

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