How I got obsessed with chemicals and broke my hairdresser’s heart


I am approaching one year working as a policy advisor for ChemSec. Like most other people being plunged into the world of chemicals, the way I viewed the world changed – and so did my behavior – when I started to learn more about chemicals. For a time, I compulsively read the table of content for different products, keen on identifying hazardous chemicals.

My girlfriend found it frustrating that it suddenly took forever to go grocery shopping. I argued that this was a part of my new trade, a matter of professionalism on my part, to be informed. I insisted it was not an unreasonable behavior; she persisted I had gone crazy. Of course, she had a point.

It is important to make relevant information about all products available. Consumers do, after all, have a responsibility to make as well-informed decisions as possible for the market power to work in the right direction. In a way, the table of content creates both transparency and liability.

However, the truth is that most people have no idea what the different substances listed are. The words are oftentimes so complex and confusing that no one bothers even trying to understand them. Sometimes, it feels like someone purposefully wrote the table of content in a way so that no questions would be raised. Take for example the substance octafluoropentyl methacrylate. Reading it out loud, how do you even pronounce that!?

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Chemsec, 2 March 2021