What is the Next Chemical?

Last week I talked about chemicals we fear and asked “why?” and how those fears develop. I also asked people what it would take to end their fear of a specific material.

This week I’m asking what is the next chemical? I ask that because sometimes you can get a hint of it by reading the news or looking at new developments. Sometimes it come from an event, sometimes it comes from a science report that catches people’s imagination.

Sometimes it clearly financially motivated, like when a fear of a chemical is created by a company who has come up with an alternative. Say a company, like all in the industry, uses Chemical A…and then they come up with a process that uses Chemical B instead. Suddenly Chemical A is terrible, and a lot of advertising is put into creating fear of Chemical A.

So what do you see out there? What’s in the news?

As you consider all these questions, let me direct you to a great little resource. James Kennedy has put out a short e-book on chemophobia, which you can download for free. In it, he argues in part that we have created a lot of our fear of science because fear is a teaching tool. Just as a child learns that “hot” hurts and is dangerous and therefore avoids hot things, we learn as children and as students to fear certain things. That’s for our own safety, but we rarely grow out of it. A child grows up and learns to handle hot things safely but we don’t always grow up learning about controlling exposure to something that MIGHT harm us. It would be nice if we were as confident about our ability to use and appreciate formaldehyde as we are in our ability to drink hot coffee safely.

Anyway, this is a good quick read with lots of smart ideas. And guys, it has tons of great charts, a lot of his greatest hits that really explain clearly why some of our fears are quite irrational. Plus there’s a FULL chapter on formaldehyde! Go grab it now.

Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only. Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.

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