Discussions on chemophobia (or whatever you want to call it) is a perennial favourite on chemistry blogs. But the conversation rarely extends out of our echo chamber. But now Sense about Science have joined the discussion with the publication of a guide entitled Making Sense of Chemical Stories.
Sense about Science is a respected charitable organisation that ‘equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion’. In short, they facilitate discussions between concerned/interested groups and relevant experts. The aim of their guide is to bridge the disconnect between the lifestyle view (and popular definition) of chemicals and the realities of how chemistry is used to support the modern world. It does this by tackling common misconceptions about chemistry.
One of the key misconception that they address is that natural chemicals are somehow safer than man-made ones. The wrongheadedness of which is nicely illustrated by a pair of infographics (designed by Compound Interest) that don’t shy away from admitting synthetic chemicals are often toxic but also make it clear that whether a chemical is naturally occurring or man-made tells us precisely nothing about its toxicity.
Making Sense of Chemical Stories is being promoted to the public, journalists, life-style press and policy makers. It, along with the infographics are freely available to download and distribute under a creative commons license. Or if you prefer a hard copy (or box full of them) email enquiries[ at ]senseaboutscience[dot]org with your contact details.