What comes to mind when you hear that there are chemicals in your product? Those of you reading this are knowledgeable enough to know that not all chemicals are bad. I often hear people in the general public realm or in the media making references to chemicals as decidedly something that is nasty. I usually don’t hesitate to let them know that even water is a chemical. That brings to mind the hoax that’s now many years old about the attempt to ban dihydrogen monoxide. They even created their own website: http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html. It’s been said that a city in California came very close to banning the substance, only for their leaders to eventually be clued into the fact that they were about to ban water.

DHMO kills

So, why do I bring this up? It’s really just to point out that public perception is something that companies need to take seriously. As in the case of DHMO, it doesn’t take much for a rumor to get started that a certain chemical is something dangerous, especially now with social media influences being so strong. Also, unfortunately, public perception does not typically stem from sound scientific evidence. It usually gets started by someone’s belief about a substance, and then it gets fueled by fear. That fear becomes even stronger when the belief is that lives are in danger, and worse if it affects children.

Would your company have a plan to counter any negative public perception issues? Maybe you use or produce chemicals at your site that actually could be harmful to human health or the environment, but you are taking the proper precautions to safeguard against adverse effects. Maybe you use chemicals that you don’t consider to be hazardous, but could be subject to scrutiny if the public perception tides turn. It would be prudent to take an inventory of your chemicals on-site, and any by-products created from reactions. You should understand all hazards associated with everything at your site, and take measures to ensure that all proper engineering controls and personal protective equipment are in place. Finally, you will want to have a plan in place, just in case you ever become the target of public review.

At Strategic Realm Consulting, we can help with chemical inventories and assessments of your product throughout its life cycle. Contact us, and let’s discuss ways we can help you understand your areas of risk and devise a plan.

Tune in next month, and I’ll discuss how the dose creates the poison.