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Opinion: 'Natural' doesn't equal non-toxic, and that's a problem

Fans of murder mysteries probably already know this, but sometimes natural products can be deadly
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There is an increasing emphasis in society on ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ products as being healthy for us. Just this past week I was reading about organic pesticides that are citrus peel based which would certainly be unhealthy for me to be around given my anaphylactic reaction to citrus.

People don’t seem to understand that ‘natural’ does not mean that a substance or scent is harmless, non-toxic.

Non-toxic means: “not poisonous, innocuous, harmless, benign, non-irritating, hypoallergenic”.

Looking at the opposite “Poisonous” sounds like such a serious word, but it simply means “causing or capable of causing death or illness if taken into the body.”

Thinking that perhaps my understanding of the term ‘non-toxic’ was too simplistic I looked it up in the context of consumer reports. Perhaps there is a legal definition, related to products, which meant something more than my understanding of the term ‘non-toxic’?

The reality is that the term ‘non-toxic’ on labels means absolutely nothing! While products must be labeled ‘toxic’ if they meet specific criteria there is no criteria for non-toxic as it is recognized that toxicity is a continuum and what is toxic for me, may not be for you.

So this brings me back to my original statement. Just because something is natural doesn’t meant that it is non-toxic!

Think about it. How many murder mysteries have you read, or watched, where a plant was used to poison somebody? Those plants are totally natural. Yet they kill!

So please stop assuming that because something is ‘natural’ that it is healthy, let alone safe for everybody around you.

Please stop labeling products as ‘non-toxic’ and “hypo-allergenic” simply because they don’t contain chemicals.

It means nothing and is incredibly misleading.

Please label everything to the tiniest detail, with all ingredients, or at least make that full detail available to those of us who need it (I understand that there isn’t a lot of space on most product labels).

A ‘natural’ product, in this case an aerosol with an orange concentrate, has seriously impacted my life. I now live with an increased hypersensitivity to citrus because of my having an anaphylactic reaction to that spray over a year ago.

So please, please be compassionate.

Don’t use any scented products in public places.

Especially, please don’t use them in a medical building!

“Natural” products can kill!

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About the Author: Nikki Shaw

Nikki Shaw is an adult immigrant to Canada, from England; having published academically since the 1990s she is now enjoying the luxury of freelance journalism.
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