Every year, the chemical industry pays PR firms millions of dollars to explain that toxic materials pose no danger to public health, and to discredit anyone who says otherwise. I sometimes wonder how many innovative products and processes might've been perfected by now, if those millions had been used instead for research and development.
Now, a South African firm suggests that there is indeed a more cost-effective solution to dealing with chemophobic worrywarts:
The Vito ice cream factory, where a safety valve injected a ton of ammonia gas into the atmosphere last week, treated an affected school to ice creams on Monday, on the day a requested technical report landed on management's desk....The accident sent 160 people to the hospital; some are still recovering. Their ice cream, I assume, was delivered by special courier.
The children spent their break time licking ice creams and ice lollies. "When you spoil them, it's all forgotten," Belthorn acting principal Thomas Joemat joked.
The company responsible for the leak also took the opportunity to introduce the children to its products:
"They've been reading words like 'toxic' and 'poisonous' and obviously got quite a fright. We want to enlighten them about how ammonia can be used constructively," said Harnekar.Got that? It wasn't the experience of finding themselves in a huge plume of foul-smelling, eye-burning, suffocating gas that gave these kids a fright...it was reading irresponsible agitprop about the hazards of ammonia.
All the same, there are possibilities here. Next year's budget for cleaning up the Hanford site is $1.8 billion. I'm thinking it would cost a good deal less to give everyone within a 200-mile radius free popsicles every day for the next five years. It'd probably do about as much for public safety, too. Definitely worth looking into, I think.