Monday, January 3, 2011

Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide Now! Or, Not

Born during the Truman administration, the Lemming developed an acute awareness of environmental concerns during the '60s. To this day, the Lemming firmly believes that it's a bad idea to dump raw sewage in rivers; and that if a waterway catches fire, there's something wrong.

That, in the Lemming's opinion, is common sense.

Then, there's this sort of thing, adapted by the Lemming from a Pennsylvania publication:

Dihydrogen Monoxide: Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

Ignorance? Or conspiracy? Deeply buried in government records is this grim statistic: 9,072 people died in 1992, as a result of contact with dihydrogen monoxide! The body count was even higher the next year!

Yet dihydrogen monoxide use continues in America: permeating the land, the air, and our homes!

Dihydrogen Monoxide: Facts

Dihydrogen monoxide, the basics:
  • Is called "hydroxyl acid", the substance is the major component of acid rain
  • Contributes to the "greenhouse effect"
  • May cause severe burns
  • Is fatal if inhaled
  • Contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape
  • Accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals
  • May cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes
  • Has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients
Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
  • As
    • An industrial solvent and coolant
    • A fire retardant.
    • An additive in certain "junk-foods" and other food products
      • Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
  • In
    • Nuclear power plants
    • The production of Styrofoam
    • Many forms of cruel animal research
    • The distribution of pesticides

The Dihydrogen Monoxide Threat: Seriously?

Is this nearly omnipresent chemical as dangerous as it sounds? Yes, and no.

This Wikipedia article gives a pretty good explanation for why Americans are, despite the very real risks, still using dihydrogen monoxide:

"Dihydrogen monoxide hoax" Wikipedia "The dihydrogen monoxide hoax is a deception that involves the use of an unfamiliar name for water ('dihydrogen monoxide'), then, by listing some negative effects of this chemical, attempts to convince people that it should be carefully regulated, labeled as hazardous, or banned. The hoax is designed to illustrate how the lack of scientific literacy and an exaggerated analysis can lead to misplaced fears.[1]"Dihydrogen monoxide", shortened to 'DHMO', is a name for water that is consistent with basic rules of chemical nomenclature,[2] but is not among the names published by IUPAC[3] and is almost never used...."

Water? WATER?!!

Is water dangerous? Yes. The Lemming lives in Minnesota, where reports of death by drowning are a sadly-familiar part of the news. That drowning death statistic, by the way, is from a United States Census publication.

Does the Lemming think that water should be banned? No. As explained elsewhere, the Lemming is apathetic. Even if some federal bureau of hyper-cautious regulations decided to limit water to injections administered by licensed health care providers: folks would still need the stuff.

And, happily for everyone who enjoys swimming, water skiing, or taking showers, we're not likely to see a ban of dihydrogen monoxide any time soon. At least, the Lemming hopes not.

Enviro-nuttiness and the Lemming:
Somewhat-related posts in other blogs:

A tip of the hat to a family member, for the heads-up on that Wikipedia article.

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