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Kids And Chemicals

This is going to be a short one. Partly because its hot as I write this - like 95 and humid hot - and partly because there isn't much more to say than what I'm going to say.

If you've been following along with me, you know that as a good parent, I have certain opinions on education I question whether rote memorization is a good thing, I appreciate a good reality-based education, and as a result I really don't care if cursive dies a quick painful death.

What does that have with today's post? It has to do with the kind of education I want my kids to get in school rather than pointlessly memorizing the presidents in order.

I recently saw the following headline on WebMd: 6M Drink Water Containing Toxic Chemicals: Report

Which admittedly sounds scary. I mean, just look at that headline. Six million! That is a lot of people. And they are drinking water- such a basic necessity! - full of toxic chemicals. Toxic ones. Its right there in the headline. Chemicals too! All the headline is missing is scare capitalization. CHEMICALS!

But lets break it down a little.

First, water is itself a chemical. Secondly, so are lots of things that are beneficial.

But, I hear you saying, it says toxic right there in the headline. Yep, it does. Water is also toxic. In fact, its one of the leading killers of children under 5. But, you say, that is drowning, not from ingesting it intentionally. Right you are. But water is also toxic if you drink too much of it.

Drink that in: water itself is a toxic chemical.

And therein is the important point: toxicity is a function of dose. Almost anything is toxic insufficient doses and almost anything is safe below certain levels.

If you read the article it becomes clear that those 6 million individuals are actually being exposed to excessive levels of two chemicals that cause real health problems. But that doesn't excuse the headline, which should have read something like 6M Drink Water With Dangerous Amounts Of Chemicals. Again, all water contains chemicals. Water is a chemical.

What I want my kids to get out of school - or my parenting - is to look at this type of headline critically. That doesn't mean they need to know water is a chemical - I Googled it to make sure - but to see the holes or potential holes in headlines like this.

To think critically about what nuances might be lurking in what is unsaid.


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