Healthy Evidence

Making Sense of Chemical Stories

People are still being misled by chemical myths. This needs to stop. We urge everyone to stop repeating misconceptions about chemicals. The presence of a chemical isn’t reason for alarm. The effect of a chemical depends on the dose.

In lifestyle commentary, chemicals are presented as something that can be avoided, or eliminated using special socks, soaps or diets, and that cause only harm to health and damage to the environment.

People needn’t be scared by chemical stories. The reality boils down to six points:

You can’t lead a chemical-free life

Natural isn’t always good for you and man-made chemicals are not inherently dangerous

Synthetic chemicals are not causing many cancers and other diseases

‘Detox’ is a marketing myth

We need man-made chemicals

We are not just subjects in an unregulated, uncontrolled environment, there are checks in place

You can read the full Making Sense of Chemicals guide here:

8 Replies

"We need man-made chemicals".

How did we ever evolve without them?

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There is a huge difference between evolving as an animal and the large technical advances and demands of modern human society. None of that would be achievable without modern science and understanding of the role chemicals play in our world - both naturally occurring substances and man made ones.

Whether it is PTFE to stop your egg sticking to your frying pan, or the plethora of man made chemicals that go into computer manufacture that allows you to send a post to this conversation, knowledge of chemicals and how to use them is the bedrock of modern life.


I took time to read the pdf on the web site. A bit of marketing literature that should not be taken very seriously.

Chemicals and chemical interactions are complex. The saying: "One man's meat is another man's poison" comes to mind. New scientist, Scientific America, American scientist, Nature give a different story that has a lot more complexity and with the complexity - more difficult to read.


I have no idea why you think it is a bit of marketing literature. I assume you don't understand who Sense About Science is.

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You are right I do not know who "Sense About Science is". However, I am aware of how certain vested interests sponsor charitable groups to put out a message that is favourable to their cause. I have met quite a few in my time.

I have also met reputable charities who bend the truth in order to obtain grant money and employ staff and make a profit from putting out information that is suspect.

Government Agencies have their messages viewed with suspicion it is almost an automatic reflex. The same government agency can employ a charity to put out a message. As it is a charity one's automatic checking of information does not come into operation because a charity has a feel good factor as well as a certain trust factor.

I hope you can see where I am coming from.

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Sense About Science sticks to science, not the interests of industry. As it's campaign for publishing all medical trial data shows. Worth you digging through their website.


I study science. My A levels were in science. My degree was in science. My literature reading is in science. I speak to and bend the ears of science researchers. So I am coming from the direction of someone who is well versed in science. I keep on forgetting that what is not so useful for me and looks suspicious to me can be of immense value to someone who has less of a scientific background than I have.

The campaign for publishing all medical trial data is the sign of the times and is long over due. However, it does not go far enough. Statistics needs to be developed to determine what is the best treatment for me who has this long term condition from the multitude of trial results that is out there.

How do I investigate the condition I have and how do I develop the research protocols that enable me to determine the conditions that can actually improve the quality of life in the long term.

How can the drug trials develop techniques that enable the Gp to determine the optimum dosage of a particular drug in respect to improved quality of life and side effects.

The above is just the start.


I took the time to read the pdf on the website too. My conclusion differs markedly. Seems a comprehensive,no-nonsense and factual discussion of the various myths surrounding the dangers of chemicals and synthetic or man-made items/foods/additives/medicines when compared to their supposedly perfectly safe "natural" alternatives.

I like what Sense about Science is doing. Keep up the good work!


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