A useful paper for conversations with those obsessed with health trends

Last year, Nature Chemistry published an article by Alexander F. G. Goldberg and CJ Chemjobber titled "A comprehensive overview of chemical-free consumer products". Everyone should read it. It's a thorough description of all chemical-free products, and the paper itself is a free download. Here's the introduction.

Manufacturers of consumer products, in particular edibles and cosmetics, have broadly employed the term ‘Chemical free’ in marketing campaigns and on product labels. Such characterization is often incorrectly used to imply — and interpreted to mean — that the product in question is healthy, derived from natural sources, or otherwise free from synthetic components. We have examined and subjected to rudimentary analysis an exhaustive number of such products, including but not limited to lotions and cosmetics, herbal supplements, household cleaners, food items, and beverages. Herein are described all those consumer products, to our knowledge, that are appropriately labelled as ‘Chemical free’.

It really is complete. But don't worry, it won't take you long to read it.


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Jesus, what a sophomoric piece of foolishness! People Obsessed with Health Trends? WTF. What is this, a nerdy hit piece on uneducated people who dare to be concerned about "chemicals" in their food, air and water? So it is okay to make fun of people who use the word "chemical" in the common or illiterate sense? What are we, sixth graders?

We of the chemistry tribe tend to know that most substances aren't that toxic, and that the human body has a robust ability to handle many toxins. However, that doesn't give anybody a gentleman's license to belittle the ignorance of the public, or worse, to take advantage of them by unleashing things like thalidomide, cyclamate, or carcinogenic agricultural chemicals on them.

Sadly, Dr. Goldberg's inability to do anything positive for STEM relations with the public have earned him an "F" in my marking book.

Pity. He had so much potential in stereospecific synthesis....

Have a nice day.

loved it ...I like showing my students this stuff...
proves that scientists DO have a sense of humor which is still a current stupid stereotype and it cautions them about the stupidity of misusing scientific terminology

By brightmoon1 (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

#1 StevenP... and once again, someone misunderstands the purpose of such documents and comentary. This is an indictment on our education system, not the people who are uneducated. The bald fact that people use the term "chemicals" in this meaningless fashion is a severe problem that must be addressed... and humor and yes, sarcasm have their place. As YOU yourself just did.

By Candice H. Bro… (not verified) on 11 Oct 2015 #permalink