UPDATE : 2020.6.17 수 15:38

[Vol. 79] Specification of Controversial Harmful Chemicals

조소연 기자l승인2018.06.11l수정2018.07.01 01:45






  There are a lot of reports nowadays about dangerous materials detected in various things around us as people are scared and wary of chemicals. A social phenomenon that has people so afraid of chemicals gives rise to the new word ‘Chemophobia’ which means phobia of chemicals. What are some of the major examples of harmful substances used in our lives? What serious side effects are there?


<Humidifier Sterilizer>

// Background

  In 1997-2011, a series of epidemiological surveys of deaths due to lung damage were conducted. And it was revealed that cause of those deaths was some harmful substances in the humidifier sterilizer.

// The most hazardous substance: PHMG

  It was developed by SK Chemical in 1996, and it has some industrial antimicrobial agents preventing contamination by microorganisms. Even though the ministry of environment did not examine whether it was toxic or not, it has been used for years with great confidence. It is usually used in shampoo, conditioner or wet tissue. However, in case of contact with skin, it may cause dermatitis and rashes, and may negatively affect the lungs, liver, kidneys, and other bodily organs. If PHMG is changed into vapor bubbles, it can cause inflammation in the lungs and allergies, and it can damage nerve cells.


<Toothpaste Carcinogen>


  The carcinogens were found in 11 types of commercially available toothpaste, which most people agree as a need of life.

// The most hazardous substances: Paraben

  It is used as a preservative that inhibits microbial growth in toothpaste. When absorbed into the body, it acts like estrogen which is a female hormone. Therefore, it can cause reproductive mechanical disabilities in adult men and breast cancer in women.

// The most hazardous substances: Triclosan

  It is an antimicrobial and antibacterial substance and used mainly for removing halitosis. Triclosan is highly likely to cause breast cancer, infertility and hypothyroidism. The Korea Food & Drug Administration banned the use of Triclosan because of the accumulated exposure cases in June 2016.


<Eggs >


  Eggs, a nutritionally complete food, are one of the foods people can get easily. The Pesticide Egg Crisis was an event in Europe in which contaminated eggs and products with Fipronil and Bifenthrin were distributed. Eggs tainted with Fipronil were also found in South Korean eggs produced.

// The most hazardous substances: Fipronil

  It is a kind of pesticide that destroys insects’ central nervous system. It is frequently used to kill pests in homes and agriculture. As it is highly toxic and not destroyed easily by cooking, it is prohibited to use in crops cultivated for humans and livestock feed. When absorbed into the body, it is accumulated in our body fat. Some may be released, but that release process is much slower than any other pesticide compounds. WHO warns that if people eat a large amount of Fipronil, they may suffer from vomiting and dizziness, and their organs may be damaged. With chronic exposure, chest pains, coughing, and breathing difficulties can occur.

// The most hazardous substances: Bifenthrin

I  t is classified as a carcinogen by U.S Environmental Protection Agencytvoc. It can be used in chickens for edible purposes but cannot exceed 0.01ppm. Excessive exposure can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If a man is exposed chronically, chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties may be caused.


<Sanitary Pads>


  In most of the big-selling sanitary pads, 1 or 2 carcinogens have been detected. About 200 total volatile organic compound ingredients were detected. In experiments conducted by civic groups, more than 500 times of the standard value in a closed space was detected. Because it is a product that is used closely with the body and essential to women, people are more upset.

// The most hazardous substances: Styrene

  Styrene is a carcinogen that can increase female hormones to cause cervical cancer and asthma. It is a volatile organic compound that is absorbed in mucous membranes. When absorbed in the genital organs through the sanitary pad, it has negative effects on the inside of the uterus. It affects the amount and frequency of menstruation. Furthermore, it is fatal to pregnancy.

// The most hazardous substances: Toluene

  It is a volatile organic compound that is embedded in home appliances and daily supplies. It is also the cause of sick house syndrome and interior smell. Toluene is not a carcinogen, but it causes headaches, memory problems. Moreover, if we get seriously addicted to Toluene, it can lead to serious respiratory problems and even respiratory failure.


  Many consumers are only given superficial information through the press and do not seek to find detailed and accurate information. In fact, it is not easy to collect detailed information at a personal level. A well-known sociologist Beck warned that the inevitable products of the industrial society are threatening our lives all over the world. He stressed that identifying and managing risks should not be left to experts or Congress alone but should be controlled through direct participation by citizens. It is time to pursue a safe consumption habit by actively collecting and checking information related to hazardous materials.

조소연 기자  csy142048@naver.com
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