What’s Your Poison?

What’s Your Poison?

Dr Barbara Hall uses the principles of toxicology to cut through common misconceptions about the dangers of everyday chemicals

The Biologist Vol 60(4) p28-31

This summer the Royal Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was criticised for advising pregnant women to 'play it safe' and avoid chemicals found in many common household products. Were they right to issue such worrisome advice about widely used chemicals?

We live in a toxic world. This is both a matter of opinion and a matter of fact. Unfortunately, opinions rarely correspond with the facts, because real toxicological information is the privilege of professionals and rarely shared with the public. Do we live despite toxins or is our life sustained by them?

In 2000, the American Council on Science and Health created a tongue-in-cheek 'holiday dinner menu' to remind us to exercise caution when thinking about chemical safety. The menu looked pretty unremarkable except for some unexpected ingredients. All of them were naturally occurring – and all were in fact rodent carcinogens...


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