West Virginians Flee from Smell of Mint-Licorice Airfreshener.

If only the British had known!

You may have heard/seen on the “news” that there was a chemical spill in West Virginia, USA recently. Lots of people got really, really scared because it was a chemical.

Junkscience.com looks at the chemical in question. Industry handles similar substances on a daily basis and everything remotely hazardous and a lot of stuff that isn’t; is accompanied by a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that describes the hazards and the proper methods of handling the substance.

In this case, the MSDS (PDF) basically says; don’t dunk yourself in it and don’t drink it, neat. It’s a skin irritant and is toxic if ingested in high doses; at least to rats (3.2g/kg will kill only half the rats).  References on the www older than a week (pre-spill), say that it is slightly soluble in water.

Fears of mutagenic effects, etc are being hyped as they are not documented for the substance. Given the applications of the substance, not necessarily just as air freshener, but as a probably thousands if not millions of tones of the stuff is exposed to the environment every year in the coal industry; somebody would have noticed something after many years.

The MSDS says “not known” or words to that effect. That is of course, the most alarming phrase to chemophobes who seem to earnestly believe that “not known” means a cover-up.

Also a very good excuse for governments to be seen to be helping the public in a crisis. And it’s something for the presstitutes to chew over. And over.

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