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How to Read a Product Label

Ingredient labels for food and other products we use daily often include unfamiliar chemical names. For example, sodium chloride and sodium hydrogen carbonate are often listed on a product label for salt and baking soda.

Product manufacturers and chemists routinely rely on technical standards when labeling their products. This helps to ensure quality and consistency.

With a little research using credible sources, you can find out why a chemical, or any other specific ingredient, is in a product.

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The Periodic Table of Elements

The Periodic Table of Elements is an ordered system of all the identified elements. These elements make up everything in our universe.

The chemical elements of the periodic table are the building blocks for everything in nature. These elements also create the products and technologies that have shaped modern societies in countless ways – clean drinking water, effective medicines and technologies ranging from solar panels to electronics components.

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Chemical Families: Sometimes Similar, But Far From the Same

A “chemical family” can be defined as a group of elements that have certain similar properties and can form compounds with some similar properties.

However, there can be significant differences among the many compounds that are part of a chemical “family.” Chemicals that seem similar can have vastly different structures, uses and health and environment profiles, and each chemical in a family has its own distinct characteristics. For example, diamonds, charcoal and graphite are all forms of carbon, but have highly different properties.

Grouping chemical substances into a category or class is sometimes done by regulators to conduct initial screening, streamline testing, or support hazard or risk assessment, but is not meant to be used to define an entire group of chemicals.

Do you have questions about chemicals in products?

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