Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chemicals for Breakfast

Sure, exposure to certain chemicals can be highly hazardous to your health, or even deadly. You only need to watch one James Bond movie to know that a little ricin or arsenic can go a long way (my fiance will probably correct me later about which poisons are used in Bond films, but you get the idea).That being said, let's discuss one of my greatest pet peeves: when people use the term "chemical" in only a negative sense.

Avoiding chemicals seems like a healthy endeavor, right? You know, let's all be "natural" and "chemical-free". Hey, I'm all for avoiding stuff that's going to give you raging cancer, but let's be accurate and realistic about our health goals. And let's not dismiss the incredible awesomeness of chemistry over a few fatal chemicals. The truth is, without chemicals, you'd be dead. Actually, you wouldn't even exist because dead organisms are still a heap of chemicals.

Scientifically speaking, EVERYTHING is a chemical! Chemicals are anything composed from the chemical elements listed on the grand, marvelous periodic table of elements. That means that ALL solids, liquids, and gases are chemicals. That also means that ALL matter is composed of chemicals. And, that my friend, also means that your entire body is made of chemicals.

If you perform a quick web search for "chemical-free" products, you'll find plenty. Don't be fooled by false advertising! There is no such thing as a chemical-free product. It would be invisible, it would have no mass, and you certainly wouldn't be able to purchase it for consumption.

Using the word "chemical" as a blanket term for all potentially dangerous substances is analogous to using the word "human" to describe all murderers (i.e. all humans should go to prison or I don't want any humans living in my apartment complex). Nonsensical, no? When describing chemicals that can be harmful, the proper thing to do is use an adjective before "chemical" that categorizes it. Take your pick: toxic, carcinogenic, unhealthy, deadly, fatal, detrimental, poisonous, dangerous, destructive, unsafe, noxious...

And next time you see a product like the ones displayed here, have a good laugh or maybe a good cry (as I feel inclined to do).

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