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READ YOUR LABELS…not just your food but your cleaning products!

June 13, 2011

As ScienceDaily reports “eight substances added to US Report on Carcinogens, including formaldehyde, may increase cancer risk,” we stumbled across a very interesting list of chemicals you may not have seen before.

But first, just a bit about “chemicals” and cleaning. Since the early part of the 20th century, the military has created chemicals as part of warfare, and often the post-war surplus of those chemicals led to the development of alternate uses. That’s largely how we come to have bleach-based disinfectant and harsh chemical cleansers as part of our weekly cleaning routines. After all, if it was good enough for mom and grandmom, it’s good enough for me, right?

But as science and medicine have progressed, so has our knowledge of how various chemicals…both lab-created and nature-created…affect our bodies, our health, and our lives. Many chemicals have been banned from use in cleaning products, or severely reduced.

The National Toxicology Program was initiated in 1978 to be the watchdog of chemical development, manufacture, and use. For the most part, the amount and dilution of chemicals used in cleaning products is reduced to a level that makes them acceptable, but not necessarily safe.

READ YOUR LABELS…carefully…and especially the fine print!

The newly revised and released 12th edition of the Report on Carcinogens (as of June 10, 2011) report cited above focused on the reclassification of formaldehyde from “reasonable anticipated to be a human carcinogen” to “known to be a human carcinogen”. What’s a carcinogen, you ask? A carcinogen is a substance that encourages cancer development and growth (sometimes phrased as “causes cancer”).

But in addition to the 86,000 real and registered chemicals of the NTP, wikipedia has an “list of fictional toxins,” those named and used in a variety of comics, movies, television series, science fiction and futuristic novels. The list includes poisons used on an individual scale, chemical weapons used on a large scale, and mutagens used to alter an individual. Some you might recognize are

Kryptonite (Superman)




Smilex (Batman)







Iocane Powder (The Princes Bride)





VX-2 Gas (The Rock)

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