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Science

The Rise of Chemophobia In the News 463

eldavojohn writes "American news outlets like The New York Times seem to thrive on chemophobia — consumer fear of the ambiguous concept of 'chemicals.' As a result, Pulitzer-prize winning science writer Deborah Blum has decided to call out New York Times journalist Nicholas Kirstof for his secondary crusade (she notes he is an admirable journalist in other realms) against chemicals. She's quick to point out the absurdity of fearing chemicals like Hydrogen which could be a puzzler considering its integral role played in life-giving water as well as life-destroying hydrogen cyanide. Another example is O2 versus O3. Blum calls upon journalists to be more specific, to avoid the use of vague terms like 'toxin' let alone 'chemical' and instead inform the public with lengthy chemical names like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) instead of omitting the actual culprit altogether. Kristof has, of course, resorted to calling makers of these specific compounds 'Big Chem' and Blum chastises his poorly researched reporting along with chemophobic lingo. Chemists of Slashdot, have you found reporting on 'chemicals' to be as poor as Blum alleges or is this no more erroneous than any scare tactic used to move newspapers and garner eyeballs?"

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