Shaming “No Chemicals”

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Have you ever bought something that contained “no chemicals”? If you have, please let me know and share with Mary Carmichael, a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT.


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Here’s one example of a product that is “lab-proven to kill the toughest of germs & viruses without the need for soap or water.”:

You’ll find no chemicals in Quash. Except these. Elsewhere on the website is this gem, titled “Know the Facts:”

“Why we don’t use chemicals. Up to 70% of the chemicals we put on our skin are absorbed into our body. By the age of 30 we have up to 70 foreign chemicals in our system, many of which can cause health problems later in life.”

And this one:

“Quash is made from 100% natural ingredients that work synergistically together to kill the toughest of germs and viruses.”

I look forward to seeing how Quash performs against XDR-TB.

found by @crgn

Such marketing emphasizes the irrational fear of the public for “chemicals,” but it is perplexing that, at the same time, the manufacturer relies on “laboratory science” to raise the credibility of their product:

Lab Proven.

Testing done by Food and Drug Analytical Services and MGS Laboratories.

I suppose that the “laboratory testing” is done to assure the potential buyer that the product does not, indeed, contain “chemicals.” My focus here is not to debunk the claims of their product – that would be easy, after all. Their product does contain:

# Manuka Honey
# Liquid Vitamin C
# White Willow Bark
# Aloe Vera
# Zinc
# Radish Root
# White Tea
# Lavender & Lime Essential Oils

Such natural products can offer plenty of benefits, even if they are unrelated to antiviral or antibacterial properties. I want to applaud Ms. Carmichael’s efforts to shed light on such a ridiculous marketing practice and I hope that it can make a difference through her “shaming” campaign on Twitter.

I’ve been sipping from a cup of water while writing this; should I fear that I have been drinking something that contains 100% chemicals?

Comments

  1. #1 Mary
    June 9, 2011

    I loved that “lab proven” bit too. Can’t you just see the experimenter suddenly realizing that he’s handling… chemicals?! and then running for the emergency shower?

  2. #2 becca
    June 9, 2011

    well there was that antimatter I got on ebay…

  3. #3 healthphysicist
    June 9, 2011

    “I’ve been sipping from a cup of water while writing this; should I fear that I have been drinking something that contains 100% chemicals?”

    Drop that cup!!!!!!!!

    It’s full of DHMO!!!!

    http://dhmo.org/facts.html#HEARD

  4. #4 Moopheus
    June 9, 2011

    A chemical-free chemistry set? WTF?

  5. #5 dametrot
    June 9, 2011

    I’ve got one: Automobile insurance.

  6. #6 Drivebyposter
    June 9, 2011

    I’ve got one: Automobile insurance.

    Ink?
    The slimy subhuman that sold it to you?

  7. #7 mxh
    June 9, 2011

    Yeah, this pisses me off too. I know someone who hired a “chemical expert” to make sure that the house they’re going to buy is “chemical free.” Man, I should have become a chemical expert (which I’m sure does not equal chemist).

  8. #8 WIll
    June 10, 2011

    If your point is that everything is chemical, well no s***, but not every chemical is synthetically produced. We daily put novel chemicals (or very old chemicals in novel concentrations) on our skin and in our lungs and stomachs, then wash them down the drain and into the ecosystem. We don’t know the long-term effects of industrial chemistry and IMO we should keep it away from our bodies and the bodies of all living things. You may be a sucker to buy something labeled “chemical free” but you’re downright guilty if you’re paying for Lysol.