Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Our Brave New Chemical World

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One of the challenges we face in our modern society is that we are using a vast number of manufactured chemicals without knowing their long-term impact.  Take for instance 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.  This is the chemical that spilled in the Elk River in West Virginia that caused the shutdown of the water system for hundreds of thousands of people.  

I did some research on 4-methylcyclohexane methanol and there is limited information on it.  Some related chemicals are described here.  They are clearly bad for animals, and it certainly poses a risk for humans.  It's hard to imagine that it entered the water systems of so many people. 

We regularly produce a number of chemicals without really understanding what they will do to us or the environment.  Certainly many people were exposed to 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, but who knows what will happen to them with time.  I posted about similar problems that are emerging with small plastic pellets that are ending up in wastewater and thus surface water bodies.  

We are living in amazing times when we can create fantastic chemicals, but we just don't fully understand what the long term implications are for us in this brave new world.

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