Chemicals

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Something I wrote a couple of years ago on Facebook :

I keep seeing posts, don’t use this, don’t eat that, they are full of toxic, carcinogenic, genetically modified ingredients. BUT does anyone ever question where this information comes from? There does not seem to be scrutiny of whether things are FACT or FICTION.
Firstly everything is made of chemicals..because they are made of atoms or molecules of various elements. Even the wind is made if chemicals, because it is in fact gases like Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide and other elements. The only thing that us not chemical is energy, like light (photons) and energy on the electromagnetic spectrum.
So when someone writes there are chemicals in something that is FACT.
Some are harmful and some are good, it can depend on the amount of something in it. That seems to be where the problem lies. Especially where people believe in homeopathic remedies, where the original active ingredient is so diffuse it sometimes can not be measured any more but people still believe in its effectivness (the placebo effect).
There seems to be an idea that even trace amounts of chemicals can do harm, in some cases that is true, we have all seen films where terrorists plan to put nerve agents in water supplies, and they show a tiny phial of stuff and say this thing can kill a million people. But it is not true that all things in trace amounts can be harmful. It’s these scare stories that worry me. I love science and finding out things. I am not an expert, so I tend to ask people who know or look up things on Wikipedia or Snopes to see what the facts are.
I think we should all question things, but try and follow the facts, not being scared to seek the truth. Certain newspapers will say something is poisonous one day, and then say it is a cure for everything the next. Sometimes you can’t take things at face value.
Science is important, without it we would be back in the stone age.

Fireworks

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Sodium nitrate, sulphur and carbon. Mixed together make gun powder. That is the explosive mixture they put into fireworks. The ratios of the different elements determine the burning characteristics. Strontium makes red, sodium yellow, copper green, magnesium bright white, other elements make different colours. Cobalt? Possibly blue. The elements burn at different temperatures. Each element, when heated, excites electrons in its atoms. As they cool down again photons of light are given out (emitted). The colour depends on the energy the photons release. Bear with me it gets complicated! In the same way you can tell what elements are in the sun or other celestial objects by their emission lines. If you look at a spectrum (rainbow of colours), given out by the light of the sun there are gaps, these correspond to gases like Hydrogen and Helium.

I don’t know enough science to explain properly.

Anyway the fireworks have stopped so I might go to bed.

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Chemicals

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One thing I hear a lot of nowadays is, I can’t eat that it’s got chemicals in it.

I agree that some things are not good for you. But that’s not because of ‘chemicals’. Why? Because unless you try and live on sunshine (some people do, believe it or not ) everything is made of chemicals, that’s because it’s made of atoms and molecules that make up the basic building blocks of the world.

Atoms and molecules? Single chemicals are elements, and if you have more than one sort, joined together they make compounds.

Oxygen is an element, hydrogen and oxygen is water, H2O. The air we breathe is made of chemicals… Nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon and other trace elements.

Food is made of chemicals, mixtures and aggregations of elements and compounds, from meat to yoghurt, lettuce to lemon merangue to coffee or tea. It’s only when things are added that food can become bad for you. Like if you treat vegetable oil (made if chemicals) to make it harder you get hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is bad for you as it can clog arteries.

We have to be aware of what is good and bad for you, but using a generic term about chemicals does not help clarify the issue.