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The dose makes the poison

Jul 02, 2014
The dose makes the poison

The dose makes the poison

A lot of people consider chemicals bad and poisonous. When bees die, it sometimes seems to be an automatic reaction to blame chemicals. The guide “Making sense of chemical Stories” addresses the misconception that “man-made chemicals are dangerous”.  

A chemical can’t simply be classified as “dangerous” or “safe”, explain the authors. It always depends on the amount received. A given chemical can be toxic at a higher dose, but below a certain dose it may be harmless or even beneficial. As an example, they mention pain killer: Taking one is good for us, whereas 50 tablets could cause severe poisoning.  

Quoting the toxicologist Andrew Cockburn the article goes on to show that the popular stance of condemning man-made chemicals as dangerous defies all logic: “It is worth noting that, although it’s popular to complain about ‘all those synthetic chemicals’, this contrasts with increasing demand for them in and around the home e.g. oral contraceptives, mouthwash and decorating materials, and for gadgets which are manufactured using them, like mobile phones, computers and CDs.”

The “Guide for the lifestyle sector and anybody with questions about chemical stories” is published by the organization “Sense about science”, a charity that “equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion”.

To read the complete guide, click here.

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