Chemicals In Perspective | Chemistry Safety News and Facts
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The Irrational Consumer: Decision Making Based On Feelings Rather Than Facts

Society for Risk Analysis,, December 3, 2018

An area of particular concern was misconceptions held regarding man-made versus natural chemicals.
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Why We Worry About Preservatives — And Why We Shouldn’t

Tamar Haspel, Washington Post, November 26, 2018

How did a class of ingredients that poses such a low risk become one of consumers’ top priorities as far as food safety concerns? A Washington Post food columnist digs into the facts.
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Goop and Others Profit by Shunning Makeup Chemicals. What Do Scientists Say?

Cara Kelly and Jayne O’Donnell, USA Today, November 21, 2018

Despite the growing popularity of “clean” beauty products, industry veterans say terms like “natural” and “organic” are unregulated and often meaningless. Here’s why that’s the case.
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What Does A Chemical Do? Addressing Misconceptions about Chemistry

Alexandra Gellé,, November 15, 2018

Chemical names often sound terrifying and give the impression that they are not safe. Still, the names of chemicals does not relate to how hazardous they are or to their origin. Learn about other common chemistry and chemical myths.
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Preservatives (Video)

James Kennedy, Chemicals, November 8, 2018

Bacteria thrive wherever there is water, warmth and a good source of nutrition. That’s where preservatives come in.
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Can Your Favorite Thing Kill You?

Mary Ellen Lewis, MDLinx, October 16, 2018

The 16th-century scientist Paracelsus wasn’t kidding when he said, “the dose makes the poison.”
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Afraid of LaCroix? Scared of MSG? The “All-Natural” Debate Could Use a Dose of Reason

Kate Bernot, The Takeout, October 15, 2018

The problem with the debate around natural vs. artificial ingredients is that the line isn’t so easily drawn between the two.
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The Right Chemistry: ‘Chemicals’ in Hot Dogs

Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, October 5, 2018

The whole concept of food being somehow safer because it contains simple, pronounceable ingredients is flawed.
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Why Is There Shellac In My Chocolate Mints?

Joe Schwarcz, McGill University, September 27, 2018

One of the ingredients listed on a box of chocolate mints is shellac. Is this the same substance used to varnish tables, and if so, is it safe? Chemist Joe Schwarcz explains.
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Your Kitchen Could Hurt You, Save You, Or Make Your Children Overweight

Michael Joyce, Health News Review, September 19, 2018

According to recent articles, your kitchen could hurt you, save you, or make your children overweight. But … what about the limitations of observational studies?
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Stop Peeing in the Pool. Chlorine Doesn’t Work Like You Think.

Gina Barton, Vox, August 27, 2018

Even in a well-maintained pool, chlorine and other disinfectants can’t immediately kill germs. Some of these pathogens still take more time than you think to be neutralized.
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You Don’t Need to Worry About Roundup in Your Breakfast Cereal

Susan Matthews, Slate, August 16, 2018

No one wants to eat a weed killer on their cereal. But a new report dramatically exaggerates the danger of the trace amounts detected.
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Dr. Joe Schwarcz Explains the Science of Lunch

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, August 3, 2018

Professor and Dr. Joe Schwarcz of McGill University tackles the science of lunch and safety of chemicals in food packaging in a new video.
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The Curious Case of Acrylamide: California’s Prop. 65 Explained

Kendall Powell, Discover Magazine, July 17, 2018

Why are items listed on Prop. 65 when they might not be harmful to people?
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Is Wearing Antiperspirant Actually Harmful For Our Body? A Doctor Shares Good News

Nicole Yi, POPSUGAR, July 17, 2018

“Wearing antiperspirant daily is safe and does not have negative long-term health effects,” Dr. Lansen told POPSUGAR. “There is no solid scientific evidence that demonstrates a connection between daily deodorant use and the development of human illness.”
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Why It’s Important to Have Summer Safety Conversations with Your Kids

Kathryn St. John, Today, July 10, 2018

Whether you’re considering sunscreen or bug spray for your family, keep these chemical safety facts in mind.
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To Repel Ticks, Try Spraying Your Clothes With A Pesticide Derived From Mums

Allison Aubrey, NPR, July 9, 2018

There are several scientific studies that provide compelling evidence that wearing permethrin-treated clothing has the potential to reduce tick bites
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Eating gummies is not a substitute for wearing sunscreen

Angela Lashbrook, The Outline, July 4, 2018

Sunscreen is one of the best skincare products you can use. Gummies, “drops,” and oral supplements are not a substitution.
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Profiting from Nature

Joe Schwarcz, McGill University, June 5, 2018

Modern chemistry has allowed the active ingredients in many plants to be extracted, identified and standardized.
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Using Bug Spray on Babies Isn’t As Scary As You Think — Here’s How to Do It

Caroline Shannon-Karasik, Romper, May 24, 2018

The CDC notes you can begin using insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US), or IR3535 when your child is 2 months old.
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Would You Know if Your Local Pool Failed Its Health Inspection? Unlikely, Survey Reveals

Water Quality & Health Council, May 15, 2018

Millions of Americans will soon head to their local swimming pool, but a new survey finds that many swimmers aren’t aware they might be wading into potential health risks at the pool.
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Dr. Joe Schwarcz: Can chocolate make you smarter?

Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, May 15, 2018

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Director of the McGill Office for Science and Society, discusses recent headlines suggesting that the consumption of chocolate may make you smarter and happier.
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Sorting Out Which Side to Believe In an Era of Alternative Facts

Geoffrey Kabat, Forbes, May 5, 2018

The increasing prevalence of mistrust of science can be solved by examining what genuine science looks like as opposed to what pseudoscience looks like. Recent examples include BPA, the herbicide glyphosate, GMOs and coffee.
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A Membrane That Can Remove Salts From Water More Efficiently

The Economist, May 3, 2018

Chemistry can improve desalination, a process that provides drinking water for around 300m people.
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Defining Safety: How Safe is Safe?

Alison Bernstein, SciMoms, April 26, 2018

How do you know if household items and beauty products are safe? A neuroscientist explores the concept of safety.
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Why Switching To Natural Beauty Products Actually Might Not Be The Best Thing For Your Skin

Kara McGrath, Bustle, April 12, 2018

What does it mean if a beauty product is not labeled as “all natural”? Just because something is made in a lab, doesn’t mean it’s toxic. Some lab-made ingredients may perform better than those found in nature.
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Key To ‘The Best’ Mac and Cheese Boils Down To Science

Rachel Nania, WTOP, April 3, 2018

The secret to the best tasting mac and cheese doesn’t involve homemade pasta or expensive, artisan ingredients. It just requires some chemistry.
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Risk in Perspective: Zero Risk Is an Impossible Dream

Alison Bernstein, SciMoms, March 19, 2018

Neuroscientist Alison Bernstein and biologist Iida Ruishalme look at common errors in risk perception in science related communications.
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Should We Worry About Glyphosate Residues In Wine?

Joe Schwarcz, McGill University, March 8, 2018

A recent study made headlines when glyphosate residues were detected in all California wines tested. Now at first this could appear alarming, but the appropriate scientific question to ask is whether these residues present any risk.
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Risk In Perspective: Hazard And Risk Are Different

Alison Bernstein, SciMoms, February 27, 2018

Hazard and risk describe two different but related concepts. The difference may sound like an unimportant jargon-filled distinction, but this difference is critical to understanding reports of hazards and risks.
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Plastic Additive BPA Not Much Of A Threat, Government Study Finds

Jon Hamilton, NPR, February 23, 2018

The chemical BPA isn’t living up to its nasty reputation. The finding bolsters the Food and Drug Administration’s 2014 assessment that water bottles and other products containing BPA are not making people sick.
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California May Soon Label Coffee as a Cancer Risk—More Than 100 Studies Suggest the Opposite

Geoffrey James, Genetic Literacy Project, February 15, 2018

The average person would need to drink 2,000 cups of coffee a day to get to the level that caused cancer in mice.
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Chemtrails vs. Contrails (video)

American Chemical Society, February 6, 2018

Is the white trail behind a jet really a “chemtrail” or is the jet simply burning fuel?
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The Right Chemistry: Ricin Is Lethal, but Most Lectins Are No Threat

Joe Schwarcz, The Montreal Gazette, February 2, 2018

Learn the difference between injected ricin and lectins in food.
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What’s Artificial Snow, And How Is It Made?

Emma Hiolski, Chemical & Engineering News, January 30, 2018

When nature won’t cooperate, people use myriad methods (and chemistry) to craft snowscapes for all occasions.
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Why Are People Popping Laundry Pods?

Joe Schwarcz, McGill University, January 25, 2018

Learn more about the caustic chemistry and contents of laundry pods.
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Artificial Sweetener Could Someday Provide Cancer Treatments with Fewer Side Effects

American Chemical Society,, January 24, 2018

Artificial sweeteners are used in diet drinks and foods but also could someday be used as treatments targeting carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX), a protein associated with aggressive cancers.
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How to Counter the Circus of Pseudoscience

Lisa Pryor, The New York Times, January 5, 2018

Celebrities and chefs making pronouncements on fluoride, sunscreen and vaccinations are often lacking qualifications in scientific research and the process of evidence-based health care.
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How Is Organic Decaf Coffee Made? Hint: Chemicals

Josh Bloom, American Council on Science and Health, January 4, 2018

Have you ever considered how caffeine is removed from decaf coffee? It’s all chemistry, and some of it is purely crazy.
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5 Food Myths It’s Time to Stop Believing

Sally Kuzemchak, Parents, December 20, 2017

Worried about chemicals, GMOs, and vaccines? A new film called Science Moms says you should focus on facts, not fear.
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Viewpoint: Why So Many Scientific Studies Are Flawed and Poorly Understood

Henry I. Miller, S. Stanley Young, Genetic Literacy Project, December 13, 2017

All sorts of conclusions, supposedly from “scientific studies,” seem to vary from month to month, leading to ever-shifting “expert” recommendations. What to make of them?
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Molecules of the Year

Stephen K. Ritter, Chemical & Engineering News, December 4, 2017

Chemists weigh in on the coolest molecules of 2017.
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Inside The Clever Chemistry Of Cranberry Harvesting

Erik Lief, American Council on Science and Health, November 30, 2017

Chemistry helps boost crop protection for cranberries as well as protect local ecosystems.
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When Good Intentions Bang Heads With Unintended Consequences

Henry I. Miller, Newsweek, November 20, 2017

While there are good intentions, some regrettable substitutions of chemistry can have serious consequences.
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Beach Umbrellas Provide Little to No Sun Protection

Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, November 15, 2017

Beach umbrellas offer little protection from the sun according to a new study. Better to apply sunscreen, of at least SPF 30 or higher, for sun protection.
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Is ‘Natural Flavor’ Healthier Than ‘Artificial Flavor’?

Natalie Jacewicz, NPR, November 3, 2017

While chemists make natural flavors by extracting chemicals from natural ingredients, artificial flavors are made by creating the same chemicals synthetically.
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The Right Chemistry: Evaluating Concerns about Fast-food Packaging

Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, November 3, 2017

A recent finding that 46 percent of food contact paper contains fluorinated compounds gave rise to alarmist headlines.
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4 Questions and Answers about the FDA’s Warning against Too Much Black Licorice

Dialynn Dwyer, Boston Globe, November 1, 2017

The FDA warned against eating too much black licorice but how much is too much? A doctor explains.
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Eye-Catching Labels Stigmatize Many Healthy Foods

University of Delaware,, October 20, 2017

The ugly side of food labeling is that a lot of fear is being introduced into the marketplace that isn’t based on science.
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The Rise Of Chemophobia: Are We Right To Be Worried About Chemicals?

Jacqueline Rowarth, Noted, October 9, 2017

In the face of public anxiety about synthetic chemicals, scientists are working on a “green and sustainable chemical future” that includes a lot of chemistry.
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Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Treat Cancer

Bianca Castro, NBC DFW, September 29, 2017

Researchers at Penn State University have developed a therapy to treat some of the most resistant cancers without damaging any healthy cells, and that treatment is now in the early stages of testing on humans.
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Taking the Mystery out of Product Preservation

Deidre Mitchell and Joyce Lam, Charles River Laboratories International, September 19, 2017

Preservatives are one of the most essential ingredients in a cosmetic or personal care product: their primary role is to control the growth of microorganisms.
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10 Common Food Additives: What You Need To Know

Maria Brilaki, Fitness Reloaded, September 11, 2017

Before you conclude that ‘artificial food dyes will give your kid ADHD’ or that all common food additives are scary, remember Vitamin D is an additive too.
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Nanotechnology Applications That Can Change The World: Healing The Body

Kevin Murnane, Forbes, September 10, 2017

Nanotechnology applications in many fields have the potential to profoundly change the world of everyday experience. Learn about some recent achievements in nanomedicine.
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The ‘Extremely Flammable’ Chemical Behind the Fire in the Flooded Texas Plant

Ben Guarino, The Washington Post, August 31, 2017

“Peroxides are basically tiny little molecular canisters of oxygen,” said Michelle Francl, a chemistry professor at Bryn Mawr.
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Is Your Plastic Water Bottle Bad For Your Health?

Abi Millar, Netdoctor, August 30, 2017

BPA and other chemicals in plastics are very tightly regulated, with strict safety limits in place to ensure consumers aren’t harmed.
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Is Coffee Bad for Your Bones?

Catherine Saint Louis, The New York Times, August 25, 2017

Does coffee drain calcium from your body and contribute to osteoporosis? Find out.
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How to Protect Yourself from Cold and Flu in 2017

Rachael Rettner, LiveScience, August 23, 2017

According to the CDC, getting an annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu.
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How Safe Is Deet?

Jeneen Interlandi, Consumer Reports, August 20, 2017

Despite assurances that this chemical is safe, consumer concerns persist. Is there a reason to worry?
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Our Senses are Hopeless at Calculating Risk

James Kennedy, August 15, 2017

According to chemistry teacher James Kennedy, we overestimate the risks of chemical ingredients in our food and products not because they necessarily pose any danger, but because we have this strangely irrational way of assessing risk in the world around us.
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Chemist Debunks That Nasty Rumor About Moscow Mule Mugs Being Poisonous

Julie R. Thomson, Huffington Post, August 11, 2017

Even if you drink a liter of Moscow mules from pure copper mugs, which you probably shouldn’t, you wouldn’t even come close to reaching safety limits, according to this chemist.
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Unsafe Slime? How Bad is Borax, Really?

Kat Day, Chronicle Flask, August 7, 2017

Chemist offers tips for staying safe with do-it-yourself slime in this kitchen science experiment.
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Dr. Joe Schwarcz: Does Your Shampoo Cause Alzheimer’s

Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, July 27, 2017

There is nothing to the Alzheimer’s – shampoo urban legend. McGill University Professor of Chemistry Dr. Joe Schwarcz dispels the concerns of the chemical methylisothiazoline, a preservative found in shampoos and creams.
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Sodium Benzoate Nonsense

Derek Lowe, Science Translational Medicine, July 24, 2017

In popular culture, the word “chemical” is often used by activists who are ignorant of chemistry and toxicology to scare the public about their food and the environment.
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Call Junk Science by Its Rightful Name: Fake News

Alex Berezow, USA Today, July 21, 2017

In popular culture, the word “chemical” is often used by activists who are ignorant of chemistry and toxicology to scare the public about their food and the environment.
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Albertsons Receives F Grade on Safer Chemicals Policy from Health Advocacy Group

Clare Goldsberry, Plastics Today, July 19, 2017

BPA has been studied for more than two decades and has not been proven harmful to humans.
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A Heaping Helping of Macaroni and Chemophobia

Kevin Folta, Medium, July 14, 2017

Enjoy your powdered cheese convenience food, its safe.
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Please Don’t Panic Over the Chemicals in Your Mac and Cheese

Susan Matthews, Slate, July 14, 2017

A recent New York Times story raised concerns but missed some key facts.
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Preservative Deep Dive: Parabens and their Alternatives

Dr. Frederic Lebreux, Prospector, July 7, 2017

Parabens, phthalates, silicones. These three cosmetic ingredients families are not chemically related and serve completely different purposes. Nevertheless, they all share the common point to be marked by the seal of infamy.
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It’s Time to Inject Some Sense into the Nonsense Peddled by the Anti-Science Crowd

Melissa Davey, The Guardian, July 5, 2017

A recent report about ‘toxic’ nanoparticles in baby formula was based on rats being injected with them at extremely high concentrations. There is no way conclusions could be drawn about risks to babies from the rat study.
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Wiping Out Bacteria with Nanoparticle-Cotton Fibers, July 4, 2017

Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) in New Orleans, Louisiana, have developed a method to trap silver nanoparticles inside cotton fibers, where they will remain wash after wash.
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No, Nanoparticles in Baby Formula Will Not Harm Your Baby

Ian Musgrave, The Conversation, July 3, 2017

A health scare surrounding nanoparticles might lead to people abandoning formula unnecessarily, with serious impacts on babies’ health.
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Fear-Based Food Labels Do Far More Harm Than Good

Kent Messer, Delaware Online, June 30, 2017

This trend toward fear-based labeling may help prop up profits for food manufacturers, but it comes at a much greater cost for consumers who are trying to make informed choices for their families.
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The 50 Chemicals Lurking in Your Fresh Fruit

Imogen Blake, Daily Mail, June 5, 2017

Chemistry teacher James Kennedy creates ingredients lists for natural foods as effort to fight generalized ‘chemophobia’ – fear of chemicals.
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So, Is Sunscreen Going to Kill You?

Cheryl Wischhover, Racked, May 30, 2017

Tips on how to protect your skin when there’s so much conflicting information about sunscreen out there.
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EFSA: Sucralose is safe and does not cause cancer

Will Chu, Food Navigator, May 10, 2017

Scientific evaluations of sucralose, conducted by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), find no link between the sweetener and cancer.
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The Science Behind Decaf

Joe Schwarcz, McGill, May 2, 2017

Chemist Joe Schwarcz examines the science behind decaf coffee.
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Glyphosate Vs. Caffeine: Acute and Chronic Toxicity Assessments Explained

Alison Bernstein, Food and Farm Discussion Lab, April 13, 2017

Fear of chemicals in our food has taken on an outsized role in the food discussion.
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What Is a Pure Substance?

Anne Marie Helmenstine, Thought Co., April 11, 2017

In a nutshell, a “pure” substance is any single type of material, such as honey, or salt.
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Mother Nature? More like ‘Mad Scientist Mama’ — creator of chemicals good and bad for humans

Steve Savage, Genetic Literacy Project, March 23, 2017

Some of the most abundant chemicals in nature are simple. Many of those natural chemicals are perfectly benign; however, nature’s assortment of chemicals also includes many that are toxic by various mechanisms.
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Coming clean…about clean labels

Mackenzie Hannum, Science Meets Food, March 21, 2017

There is no official definition of a “clean label” yet this is one of the largest trends in the food industry.
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Combatting Chemophobia With Wine

James Kennedy, March 5, 2017

100 to 300 compounds are responsible for the full flavour of a wine.
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Frozen Chemistry Controls Bacterial Infections

Ingrid Söderbergh, Phys.Org, March 3, 2017

Chemists and molecular biologists have made an unexpected discovery in infection biology.
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Reader Beware: Science Covered in the News Is Pretty Likely to Be Overturned

Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, C Stat, March 2, 2017

It often feels as though today’s health headlines are some scientific version of Mad Libs. And now there’s a study that provides evidence for that hunch.
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Is Acrylamide In Your Toast Really Going To Give You Cancer?

Kat Day, Chronicle Flask, January 23, 2017

Let’s get to the facts: what is acrylamide? A chemist explains.
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Why Should Scientific Results Be Reproducible?

Dakin Henderson, NOVA NEXT, PBS, January 19, 2017

The evidence around reproducibility suggests that both are true: science is inherently uncertain, and it needs to change its practices.
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A Chemist’s Guide to Car Seats

Car Seats For the Littles, January 13, 2017

Many parents express concern over the chemical flame retardants used on their children’s car seats. How dangerous are these chemicals?
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Why You’d Have To Eat 64 Cans Of Green Beans Per Day – Every Day – To Get Too Much BPA

Michael P. Holsapple, The Conversation, December 27, 2016

A professor in food science and human nutrition looks at the benefits and risks of BPA in food can linings.
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Scientist Argues Vaccines, GMOs and Cell Phones Are Not Threats to Our Well Being

Susan Okie, The Washington Post, December 16, 2016

Cancer epidemiologist Geoffrey C. Kabat’s new book examines common fears by putting news headlines and science in perspective.
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Should Pregnant Women Be Concerned About BPA?

Steven Hentges, Science 2.0, November 28, 2016

With thousands of studies published in the scientific literature, BPA is almost certainly one of the best tested substances in commerce.
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What Chemicals Will We Be Eating And Drinking This Christmas?

Peter McGuire, Irish Times, November 24, 2016

Are chemicals really the menaces they are portrayed as? Take a look at holiday food staples like turkey and popular desserts to see great examples of traditional approaches to both processing and preservation, all using chemistry.
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BPA-Free, With Regrets

Steven Hentges, Science 2.0, October 17, 2016

With BPA, could it be that what seemed like a good idea at the time might have turned into a regrettable substitution? Steven G. Hentges, who holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, discusses.
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Are ‘Natural’ And ‘Chemical-free’ Always Best For Your Baby?

James Kennedy, Huffington Post, September 28, 2016

Chemistry teacher James Kennedy writes that many new parents are willing to pay a price premium for a product that claims it is “natural” or “chemical-free” because they believe it’s ‘safer’ for their baby, but what do these terms actually mean?
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Two Chemicals Together May Knock Out Zika-Carrying Mosquitoes

Helen Branswell, Scientific American, September 23, 2016

CDC reports that spraying an insecticide and applying larvicide may be best tools for combating local Zika.
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Glyphosate Herbicide in Vaccines? Here Is What Concerned Parents Should Know

Andrew Porterfield, Genetic Literacy Project, September 20, 2016

Anti-vaccine groups have claimed a study shows glyphosate in vaccines, however the study has not been released for review let alone appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific publication.
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Ask Sweethome: Should I Switch to Aluminum-Free Deodorant?

Leigh Krietsch Boerner, Sweethome, August 25, 2016

A chemist debunks myths about deodorants with a closer look at several health studies.
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Hot Water Causes Cancer? Don’t Believe It: Column

Alex Berezow, Julianna LeMieux, USA Today, August 10, 2016

Have you heard that any hot drink can cause cancer? Take a look at the evidence before shunning hot tea or hot coffee.
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The 7 Biggest Problems Facing Science, According To 270 Scientists

Julia Belluz, Brad Plumer, Brian Resnick, Vox, July 14, 2016

Today, scientists’ success often isn’t measured by the quality of scientific analysis or rigor of their review methods. It’s instead often measured by how much grant money they win, the number of studies they publish, and how much their findings appeal to the public.
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Blue Shift: Don’t Let the Internet Scare You About Sunscreen

Leigh Krietsch Boerner, The Sweethome, July 11, 2016

Get the details on the chemical compounds used in sunscreen from a chemist.
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Nine Ways Chemistry Contributes to High Performing Buildings

D’Lane Wisner, High Performing Buildings, July 6, 2016

There are many ways chemistry contributes to the buildings where we live, eat, learn and play.
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What’s Inside Sunscreen? The Same Stuff That’s in Silly Putty

Victoria Tang, Wired, July 4, 2016

Learn about the ingredients that help to make sunscreen lightweight, yet still protect people from harmful rays.
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‘Chemophobia’ is Irrational, Harmful – And Hard To Break

James Kennedy, Aeon, June 10, 2016

Natural chemicals can be beneficial, neutral or harmful depending on the dosage and on how they are used, just like synthetic chemicals. Whether a chemical is ‘natural’ should never be a factor when assessing its safety, according to science teacher James Kennedy.
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The Chemophobe Food Scare That Won’t go Away

Meagan Parrish, Chem Info, June 6, 2016

There are a lot of myths about MSG, or monosodium glutamate but what does the science say?
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Blue Shift: How the Panic Over BPA Accomplished Nothing

Leigh Krietsch Boerner, The Sweethome, June 1, 2016

When it comes to fear about the chemical BPA, reacting to headlines without carefully weighing evidence may not be in our best interest in the long run.
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Scientists Say GMO Foods Are Safe, Public Skepticism Remains

Tamar Haspel, National Geographic, May 17, 2016

According to a new report by the National Academy of Sciences, genetically-engineered crops are as safe to eat as their non-GE counterparts, they have no adverse environmental impacts, and they have reduced the use of pesticides.
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10 Scary-Sounding Chemicals Your Body Makes Naturally

Lisa Winter, A Plus, Tech & Science, May 4, 2016

There has been a big push in recent years to live “chemical free.” But there’s one big problem…
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Seven Things Pregnant Women and Parents Need to Know About Arsenic in Rice and Rice Cereal

Howard Seltzer, FDA Center for Applied Nutrition, April 28, 2016

People can certainly eat rice as part of a well-balanced diet, according to the FDA. Based on the FDA’s scientific assessment, parents and caregivers should feed their infants a variety of fortified infant cereals, rather than relying solely on infant rice cereal.
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The Additives You Want in Your Food

IFIC Foundation, My Fitness Pal, April 18, 2016

Some ingredients added to food should be hailed for their contributions to our health.
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What Is Thimerosal and Why Is It in My Kid’s Vaccines?

Dr. Byron Whyte, The Scientific Parent, April 14, 2016

What does a pediatrician want parents to know about vaccines and chemical safety?
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Kitchen Science: Everything You Eat Is Made of Chemicals

Chris Thompson, IFLScience!, April 8, 2016

We are routinely warned about “nasty chemicals” lurking in homes and kitchens as well as told the benefits of switching to a “chemical-free” lifestyle. The problem is: the word “chemical” is entirely misused in these contexts.
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Campbell’s Replaces BPA in Cans; Science, Marketing or Hysteria?

Josh Bloom, American Council on Science and Health, April 6, 2016

If not for chemical scares how would certain groups, who raise money based on nonsense, survive? It wouldn’t be easy, and so BPA became just one compound in a long line of chemicals that has gotten a “kick me” sign pasted on its molecular back.
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If it’s Science vs. Motherhood, Can Science Ever Win?

Ben Miyares, Packaging World, April 4, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration—after reviewing hundreds of scientific tests—remains convinced that the tiny amount of BPA found in packages and products is safe, yet California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added bisphenol A (BPA) to its Proposition 65 list of chemicals “known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity” last year.
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SciBabe Yvette d’Entremont Debunks Food Science

Joanne Richard, Ottawa Sun, March 29, 2016

There’s sugar-shaming, detoxing, and gluten demonizing diets. Chemist Yvette d’Entremont debunks some popular food myths with sound science.
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California: Chemical Warning May Scare Poor From Canned Food

Ellen Knickmeyer, Chem.Info, March 25, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s current perspective, based on its most recent safety assessment, is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods.
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A Chemist Explains Why the Honest Company Toxic Ingredient Scandal Isn’t Really A Scandal

Katherine Ellen Foley, Forbes, March 19, 2016

Sodium lauryl sulphate, also known as SLS, is found in laundry detergent and other cleaning products. Its primary use is to isolate the oils that have dirtied clothing so they can be rinsed away.
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What Does The Word Chemical Mean To You?

Katherine Haxton, Royal Society of Chemistry, March 11, 2016

Chemophobia has a variety of definitions, from an anxiety about chemistry, either in a learning environment or more generally, to an irrational fear of chemicals.
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Chemist Invents Detergent That Could Repel Zika Mosquito

Meagan Parrish, Chem Info, March 10, 2016

This breakthrough cleaning product happened entirely on accident.
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Want To Change Someone’s Mind About Vaccines? Here’s A Start

Tara Haelle, Forbes, March 1, 2016

A new toolkit draws on the available science research on vaccines to outline a guide in where to start the conversations.
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Stretchable Nano-Devices Towards Smart Contact Lenses

Nanowerk News, February 19, 2016

Using this technology, high-tech lenses could one day filter harmful optical radiation without interfering with vision.
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Chemistry Trick Paves Way For Safer Diabetes Medication, February 18, 2016

By modifying a molecule, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have found an entirely new approach for designing insulin-based pharmaceuticals.
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Chemicals Aren’t the Culprit: Debunking the 6-year-old McDonald’s Happy Meal Story

Kayla S. Samoy, Arizona Republic, February 9, 2016

A Facebook post features a 6-year-old pristine looking Happy Meal. But chemicals and preservatives aren’t the reason for the lack of decay.
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My Food Paranoia Wake-Up Call: The EWG Wants Us to Be Afraid of the Food We Feed Our Kids — Here’s Why I Refuse

Jenny Splitter, Salon, February 6, 2016

Several recognizable and highly trusted brands have secured the trust of many parents when it comes to rating products, but some of their warnings and recommendations don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny.
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When Athletes Go Gluten Free

Gretchen Reynolds, Well, New York Times, January 20, 2016

A new, carefully designed study of the effects of gluten-free diets on athletic performance suggests that giving up gluten may not provide the benefits that many healthy athletes hope for.
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How Marketers Use Fear Of Chemicals For Profit: 3 Easy Steps

Alison Bernsetin and Kavin Senapathy, Science & Technology, Forbes, January 13, 2016

A new “Verified” program for cosmetics heaps on the fear while missing the mark on science.
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We Should Care About the Discovery of New Elements: They Help Us See the Universe with Awe

Stephen Carter, Brisbane Times, January 12, 2016

On December 30, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announced that four new elements are being added to the periodic table.
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Endocrine Disruption and Fat-Causing “Obesogen” Theories Crumbling As Research Rolls In

Andrew Porterfield, Genetic Literacy Project, January 4, 2016

The concept of obesogens tends to rely more on fear than substance when it comes to scientific evidence.
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The Most Ridiculous Health Claims of 2015

Julia Belluz, VOX, December 27, 2015

One activist demonized chemicals in food, no matter how benign, and suggested they’re slowly killing people. Find out why this is false.
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Injectable Foam Repairs Bones

James Urquhart, Chemistry World, December 22, 2015

Scientists say a new biomaterial foam could treat bone defects and diseases.
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It’s Practically Impossible to Define “GMOs”

Nathanael Johnson, Grist, December 21, 2015

The definition of GMOs largely depend on context and who is answering the question. In general, you might be surprised how often GMOs are defined as “anything that couldn’t occur naturally.” Learn why this definition for GMOs doesn’t add up.
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Warning: Life Causes Death — California’s Toxic Warning Label Racket

Chuck DeVore, Forbes, December 14, 2015

Prop. 65 labels have become ubiquitous in California—so much so, there are more labels than there are California poppies, the state flower. But what do all these chemical warning labels mean exactly?
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Free-From Claims Are Based on Fears and Should Stop

Andrew McDougall, Cosmetics Design Europe, December 3, 2015

Cosmetics and personal care products should avoid using ‘free-from’ claims on their packaging as they just trade off fear, according to a cosmetics industry panel.
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Poisons Chemists Hate, But You Just Ate

Josh Bloom, Science 2.0, November 27, 2015

Check out a chemist’s perspective on four of the many chemicals you just ate.
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The Right Chemistry: Food Emulsifiers and Your Weight

Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, November 20, 2015

Emulsifiers are common ingredients in commercial mayonnaise, ice cream, bread and pastries. These molecules prevent separation of fat and water in a food product.
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European Scientists Say Weedkiller Glyphosate Unlikely To Cause Cancer

Barbara Lewis, Reuters, November 12, 2015

Glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
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The Chemistry of The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Reactions, Chem.Info, November 4, 2015

Chemistry explains why some cheeses melt so deliciously on bread. It’s all about the chemicals and their various properties.
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The Science of Sleep

Dow, November 2, 2015

Chemical manufacturing companies are innovating in science to help give a good night’s rest.
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The Bacon Freak-Out: Why the WHO’s Cancer Warnings Cause So Much Confusion

Brad Plumer, Vox, October 26, 2015

Some news outlets are suggesting that processed meat like bacon or lunch meat is now considered just as bad for you as cigarette smoke. That is wildly false.
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Kids Need Fruits And Veggies, Not False Alarms About Food Risks

Henry I. Miller and Jeff Stier, Forbes, October 21, 2015

The FDA has performed extensive research and reviewed hundreds of studies about BPA’s safety. The FDA has also reassured consumers that current approved uses of BPA in food containers and packaging, such as for fruits and vegetables that are packaged in cans and plastic, are safe.
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Can Whiteners Damage the Teeth?

Karen Weintraub, Ask Well Column, The New York Times, October 20, 2015

The active ingredient in tooth whitening strips and tooth-whitening trays is generally hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down in the body into water and a harmless compound called urea.
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Good Chemistry

Andy Brunning, The Sunday Times, October 4, 2015

Ever wondered why chillis are so spicy or why asparagus makes urine smell? Science teacher Andy Brunning reveals the science behind a variety of reactions to food in his new book.
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The SciBabe Talks Toxins; Your Questions Answered

Kevin Folta, Talking Biotech Podcast, October 3, 2015

The SciBabe, scientist Yvette d’Entremont (@TheSciBabe) explains what it means when something is “toxic” and what we really need to worry about.
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What Do All the Chemicals in Our Food Do?

Becky Harlan, The World Weekly, September 24, 2015

From apples to oranges, all food is made of chemicals. What do all the chemicals in our food do?
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Modern Alchemy: Reverse Engineering Flavor

Vox Creative, Infiniti and MOFAD,, September 21, 2015

Watch how flavor scientists (aka flavorists) use chemicals to replicate and reverse engineer naturally occurring flavors like vanilla.
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These Friendly Food Scientists Want to Make You Feel Good about Eating Chemicals

Rachel Feltman, The Washington Post, September 4, 2015

Lately, it seems that all too many restaurant chains are willing to capitalize on that fear by cutting out GMOs and “unnatural” ingredients.
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FSU Scientist Invents New Foam Technology

TaMaryn Waters, Tallahassee Democrat, August 28, 2015

Possibilities are promising for a new foam technology from Florida State scientist, Changchun “Chad” Zeng.
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Does Febreze Really Work?

Reactions, American Chemical Society, August 17, 2015

Does Febreze really work? Yes. The chemical cyclodextrin traps odors inside its molecular cage.
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Coke & Diet Coke: The Facts and the Fiction

Compound Interest, August 6, 2015

What really happens to your body when you drink a coke or diet coke? A chemistry teacher fact checks several scary graphics that have gone viral.

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Actually, All Food Is Full Of Chemicals

Leigh Weingus, The Huffington Post, July 21, 2015

New AsapSCIENCE video debunks several common myths about chemicals in foods as well as the difference between natural and synthetic.

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4 Unbelievable Chemical Substances Humans Have Discovered

Julia Calderone, Business Insider, July 9, 2015

A Quora thread inspires this new list of the coolest chemicals. The list ranges from the world’s lightest, solid material to a metal that melts at room temperature.

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Junk Science = Garbage Policy

T. Becket Adams, Washington Examiner, July 6, 2015

What happened when health reporters and editors in popular media were tested by a scientist on whether they could distinguish a bad science study from a good one?

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Science Denial: It’s Not Just a Republican Problem | Commentary

Dan Maffei, Roll Call, June 3, 2015

A former member of Congress expresses concern about the effect of the “science denying culture” on national policies.

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Trying to Decide about Raw Milk?

Center for Disease Control (CDC), May 14, 2015

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful germs, according to the CDC. What else do you need to know about raw milk before adding it to your diet? Learn more at the CDC’s Food Safety Blog.

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Pediatric infectious disease expert sheds light on vaccine myths

Evie Polsley, Medical Xpress, May 6, 2015

Vaccines save thousands of lives of every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Though vaccines have a long history of safety, misinformation about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines still exist. A pediatric infectious disease physician, Nadia Qureshi, sheds light on the most persistent of these myths.

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The Right Chemistry: Hexane residues in soy burgers are no cause for concern

Joe Schwarcz, Montreal Gazette, April 24, 2015

What do we know about the safety of hexane, which is found in some foods made with soy (i.e., veggie burgers, meat alternatives)? Dr. Schwarcz explores what research says about hexane safety.

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The Mischief Of ‘Regrettable Substitutions’

Henry Miller, Forbes, March 11, 2015

Though labels like “BPA Free” and “non GMO” have nothing to do with safety determinations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they can be found everywhere. This article explores the harm and confusion that can be caused when approved ingredients are swapped out for newer ingredients and processes that prove to be “inferior or actually harmful.”

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Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?

Joel Achenbach, National Geographic, March 2015

Why does scientific knowledge on topics ranging from the safety of fluoride and vaccines often face such strong opposition? This article explores how we are all wired to rely on personal experiences and anecdotes when it comes to evaluating science, rather than research and statistics.

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‘Allergic To All Known Chemicals?’

Dr. Henry I. Miller, Science and Technology Section, Forbes, March 2, 2015

It’s impossible to be allergic to all known chemicals, but some people avoid a safe product because of an unknown name or word in the ingredient list. Scientist Henry I. Miller explores how this kind of fear of chemicals can lead to bad outcomes for us all, and even for the planet.

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Snoopy Is Safe After All

Review & Outlook Section, Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2015

A Wall Street Journal op-ed highlights the safety profile of BPA and criticizes expensive and unneeded BPA studies that are driven by “the periodic scares over chemicals in vaccines, foods and other products.”

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VIDEO: New Report Says BPA Is Safe At Low Levels

ABC News, Good Morning America, January 22, 2015

A new scientific report states that “there is no health concern for any age group from dietary exposure or from aggregated exposure” to BPA.

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Weight of Evidence: How to Make Sense of Reports on Toxicology and Pesticides

News Staff, Science 2.0, January 21, 2015

How can the public make sense of conflicting scientific research? The authors of this article suggest a “weight of evidence” approach is the most meaningful way to assess studies.

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BPA Plastics Chemical Poses No Health Risk, Says European Watchdog

Maggie Fox, NBC News, January 21, 2015

Scientific experts from the European Food Safety Authority have concluded that “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels.”

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Bisphenol A and a “Groundbreaking Study”

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, CJAD 800-AM, January 18, 2015

What does a study have to come up with to be described as “groundbreaking?” In this article, author and professor Dr. Joe Schwarcz disputes the findings and implications of a recent study on effects of exposure to the chemical BPA.

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The Right Chemistry: Stephanie Kwolek Was as Tough as Kevlar, the Material She Invented

Joe Schwarcz, The Montreal Gazette, December 6, 2014

Kevlar has been made popular in bullet-proof vests worn by soldiers and police officers, but it was originally designed for use in tires. In this article, Dr. Joe Schwarcz discusses both the inventor, Stephanie Kwolek, and the science behind this revolutionary material.

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When Anomalous Results Get the Most Attention

Geoffrey Kabat, Forbes, November 15, 2014

The author provides examples of studies using “questionable data to advance poorly supported claims” that are still getting published in peer-reviewed journals.

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EU Committee Confirms Safety of Formaldehyde Nail Hardeners

Chemical Watch, November 13, 2014

An opinion released by the EU Commission’s Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety has confirmed that formaldehyde is safe for use in cosmetic products meant to harden or strengthen nails, at a maximum concentration of 2.2%.

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The Danger of Advocacy Masquerading as Science

David Ropeik, The Big Think, Inc., November 4, 2014

The author of this article analyzes a recent study about BPA in thermal paper receipts.

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Nanomaterial Turns 90% of Sunlight into Heat Improving Efficiency of Solar Thermal Plants

Jayalakshmi K, International Business Times, October 30, 2014

Researchers at UC San Diego have developed an advanced nanomaterial that could be used to increase the efficiency of solar panels at concentrating solar power plants.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte, Hint-of-Lime Chips and Other Chemically Enhanced Foods You Should Stop Worrying About

Raychelle Burks, The Washington Post, October 13, 2014

A chemist explains that chemical additives found in some foods are tested for safety, and “chemophobia” – or fear of chemicals – needs to be tempered.

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Nanotechnology Process Makes Heat-Resistant Dyes

Binghampton University, Nanowerk, October 6, 2014

Nanotechnology is being used to help create high quality and inexpensive optical dyes that could be used in airplane cockpit windows, sunglasses, and plasma TVs.

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Inside an Ebola Kit: A Little Chlorine and a Lot of Hope

Nurith Aizenman, NPR, September 19, 2014

Chlorine is included in kits distributed by the United States government to help African countries keep the Ebola virus at bay.

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First Flexible Graphene Display Paves the Way for Folding Electronics

Emma Stoye, Chemistry World, September 11, 2014

Graphene, pure carbon that is very thin, is being used in electronic displays that would allow the displays to be able to be folded, which could revolutionize the electronics industry.

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The Raging Controversy Over BPA Shows No Signs of Abating

Geoffrey Kabat, Forbes, September 4, 2014

A cancer epidemiologist reviews recent research on BPA and highlights the importance of understanding the context in which scientific studies take place before drawing conclusions from the research.

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Paraben Phobia Is Unjustified

Joe Schwarcz, The Montreal Gazette, August 22, 2014

In this article, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Director of McGill University’s “Office for Science & Society,” writes that the current fight to remove parabens from cosmetic products is based on a flawed study from decades ago.

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Meet BPA-Free, the New BPA

Steve Hentges, Science 2.0, August 18, 2014

In this article, the author states that BPA-Free alternatives are coming under attack from some of the same entities that had previously targeted BPA.

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“Parallel Science” of NGO Advocacy Groups: How Post-Modernism Encourages Pseudo-Science

Marcel Kuntz, Genetic Literacy Project, July 15, 2014

This author criticizes policy advocates who support science only when it conforms with their ideology.

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Are You Exposed to BPA, and Does It Matter?

Steve Hentges, Ph.D., Science 2.0, July 14, 2014

The author, a Ph.D. chemist at the American Chemistry Council, states that the majority of BPA studies do not address actual exposure to the chemical and whether the amount to which individuals are exposed may actually cause harm.

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Science Journal Pulls 60 Papers in Peer-Review Fraud

Henry Fountain, The New York Times, July 10, 2014

A researcher in Taiwan was discovered to have fraudulently reviewed his own work to get more than 60 papers published and has started a new debate on the sanctity of peer-reviewed journals and articles.

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Chemicals, Deodorants and Breast Cancer: Making Sense of It All

Breast Cancer Campaign, June 30, 2014

A breast cancer advocacy organization addresses concerns about chemicals and breast cancer, stating that articles asserting such links are often not evidence-based.

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Green Group’s Unscientific Attack on Soap

Erik Telford, The Hill’s Congress Blog, June 18, 2014

The author of this post states that criticism of antibacterial soaps is unfounded.

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Do We Really Have to Worry About Shower Curtains Causing Weight Gain?

Geoffrey Kabat, Forbes Magazine, June 18, 2014

The author, an epidemiologist, criticizes an article published in Spry Magazine that makes claims about chemicals and endocrine disruption.

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The Future of Food, With Fewer Pesticides: Thanks Surfactants

News Staff, Scientific Blogging on Science 2.0, June 8, 2014

The author of this article highlights new research will help farmers use fewer pesticides based on the type of surfactant used in the pesticide.

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FDA: No Low-Dose Chemical Dangers

Dennis Avery, Canada Free Press, May 20, 2014

The article cites a recent study by the FDA reconfirming the safety of BPA.

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Five Myths About the Chemicals You Breathe, Eat and Drink

Mark Lorch, The Conversation, May 19, 2014

Dr. Lorch, a senior lecturer in biomedical chemistry at the University of Hull, highlights a number of myths associated with chemicals.

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Manmade or Natural, Tasty or Toxic, They’re All Chemicals

Mark Lorch, The Guardian, May 19, 2014

Although the terms “chemical” and “poison” are sometimes used interchangeably, the author posits that the presence of a chemical in a product does not mean harm.

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Combating Bad Science

The Economist, May 15, 2014

Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University is creating a new laboratory at the University that will investigate meta-research. The article discusses that the institute will monitor peer reviewed journals to ensure that policy makers do not reach “decisions on the basis of flaky studies.”

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100% of Canned Food Tested for Bisphenol A (BPA) Safe to Consume

Canadian Food Inspection Agency,, April 25, 2014

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency released findings from a study that shows that “BPA was not detected in 98.5 percent of canned foods,” and of those samples found to contain BPA, all were at low levels.

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The Triclosan Controversy: What Are the Facts?

Dianne Glasscoe,, April 24, 2014

This article points out while there has been an increase in focus on triclosan and its use in personal care products, such as toothpaste, there is no evidence to show the chemical is harmful, according to the FDA and the Cochrane Collaboration, an international non-profit.

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The Tyranny of the Organic Mommy Mafia

Naomi Schaefer Riley, New York Post, April 19, 2014

This article delves into the peer pressure facing many parents raising their children and the increase of “helicopter parenting.”

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Science Council Debunks Top Environment and Health Scares from 2013

James M Taylor, Environment & Climate News, April 18, 2014

This article takes a look back at 2013 and different ingredients that were put under great scrutiny by NGOs and activists and how these scares were not based in fact, included is a section on phthalates.

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BPA: The Scientists, the Scare, the 100-Million Dollar Surge

Trevor Butterworth,, April 9, 2014

The author of this op-ed challenges an article published in Mother Jones that calls into question the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) research that states that BPA is safe.

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Guest Commentary: BPA Threats Unsubstantiated; Bill Could Hurt Taxpayers

Mattie Duppler, Green Bay Press Gazette, March 30, 2014

Lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering legislative options that would require manufacturers to “conspicuously label” food containers that contain BPA. The guest commentary asserts that this bill could have adverse ramifications on Wisconsin.

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Fearsome Yellow

Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D., McGill University Office for Science and Society Blog, March 23, 2014

When members of the Armed Services return home from active duty, they are welcomed by family and friends with yellow ribbons. This article discusses both sides of a recent report that has indicated that the dye in these ribbons “could leave a toxic residue” behind.

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The “Toxic” Garden Hose? (Excerpt of “From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back”)

Lenore Skenazy,, March 20, 2014

An excerpt from the book “From Cupcakes to Chemicals,” highlights how misinformation can lead to misplaced fear of commonplace objects and activities.

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Editorial Counterpoint: Misinformation Fuels Fears about Triclosan

Minnesota Star Tribune, March 18, 2014

Anti-bacterial soaps containing triclosan have been proven effective at preventing the spread of potentially harmful bacteria, but the state of Minnesota is currently considering banning germ-killing soaps that contain triclosan. This editorial offers reasons why this ban would not be in the best interest of the state.

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Does BPA Make You Fat?

Science 2.0, March 17, 2014

This article counters claims that exposure to the common chemical BPA is making humans fat.

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What’s the Difference Between Hazard and Risk? (Video)

University of Michigan Risk Science Center YouTube Page, March 11, 2014

This video describes the differences between “hazard” and “risk” in an easy-to-understand manner.

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Maybe That BPA in Your Canned Food Isn’t So Bad After All

National Public Radio, February 26, 2014

This radio segment reports on a study from the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health, that found to biological impacts from exposure to low doses of BPA.

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Grandjean and Landrigan Strike Again!

Julie Gunlock,, February 20, 2014

This article challenges the findings of a study published in Lancet linking chemical exposures to a variety of neurological conditions.

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The Wizardry of Dr. Oz

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 27, 2014

Dr. Mehmet Oz has been lauded as “America’s Doctor” by Oprah Winfrey and has millions of devoted viewers, but the author of this article has a different opinion. She believes that “he can be neither wholly trusted nor dismissed.”

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20 Tips for Analyzing Claims of a Scientific Study

Alex Berezow, Real Clear Science, November 20, 2013

Scientific research can be difficult to report in main stream media sources without causing confusion. This article gives tips to help consumers read and understand news articles about scientific studies.

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Lethal Lunch Boxes and the Infestation of Fear

Lenore Skenazy, USA Today, October 19, 2013

The author of this opinion piece discusses the irrational fear that many parents have regarding the chemicals that go into the production of many of the school supplies used by their children.

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