The effects of chemicals on us

Dorea Reeser is a Ph.D. candidate in environmental chemistry at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on studying chemical reactions at water surfaces, and how the chemical and physical properties at the air-water interface influence these reactions and the release of important trace gases into the troposphere. She combines her creative and scientific sides with her passion for presenting science, whether it’s at a scientific conference, in the classroom, at an outreach event, at a social outing, on paper or in a video. She is the founder of a new outreach project called Chemicals Are Your Friends, and a team member of Story Science, the winners of the Scientific American Iron Egghead Video Contest.

For example, when we eat a slice of bread (which is made up of chemicals), our body starts to break that bread down into Chemicals that we can use. The starch (the main constituent in the bread) is broken down into glucose which gets absorbed and undergoes a process called glycolysis. Through this process the glucose is changed (through combining it with other Chemicals and breaking it apart) into Chemicals such as glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate and pyruvate. It is also turned into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which in turn reacts with the Chemicals in our muscles to give us the energy to move and work.

Harms of chemicals
Such wide use creates the potential for several troubling scenarios. Plastic containers that are contaminated with the Chemicals could be recycled and used to create new containers to which more PFAS are added. More residual PFAS could also rub off on the container during the manufacturing process. That hypothetical container could hold a flavoring that’s added to cola, which is then added to a new 20 ounce soda bottle that could also have PFAS on it from its production.

There is a process by which chemical ingredients in consumer products can be assessed for safety, taking into account risk, hazard and exposure. Scientific experts at many government agencies use computerized evaluation procedures, data and testing to establish safe exposure levels for Chemicals in certain regulated products. Companies producing consumer products are also responsible for the safety of the products they sell, and many do their own robust evaluations and safety testing.