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Toxicology in the Age of Twitter

By: Steve Herman
Posted: March 8, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

μηδέν άγαν—“nothing in excess” —Temple of Delphi, Greece

Your face cream can kill you! Fragrances are deadly mixtures of secret chemicals!

Frightening, emotionally powerful messages—and totally misleading. But how does the industry respond to hot emotions with cold science? In this Age of Twitter, with attention spans shrinking and scientific literacy in decline, how can the nuances of toxicology be explained in simplistic bullet points?

The recent debate between the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the fragrance industry1 is just one example of the public relations battle being waged over the safety of consumer products.

With The Safe Cosmetics Act floating around the U.S. Congress, the industry must do everything possible to keep good science in the forefront of the public consciousness.