Many people know about the dangers of chemicals such as lead and dioxin, but there is lack of awareness of an even bigger killed chemical: dihydrogen monoxide. It is a colourless, odourless, tasteless chemical that is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
Most deaths caused by dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) are by accidental inhalation, causing cerebral hypoxia. However, the dangers of DHMO do not end there. Its solid form can cause severe tissue damage after prolonged exposure, and both its gas and liquid forms can cause severe burns. It is possible to overdose on DHMO, with symptoms ranging from excessive diaphoresis and micturition, bloating, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance such as hyponatraemia. For those who are dependent on it, withdrawal means certain death. DHMO has also been found in various types of tumours biopsied from terminal cancer patients.
Not only does DHMO have consequences on human health, it is also damaging for the environment. DHMO is the leading cause of the greenhouse effect (surpassing carbon dioxide), a key component of acid rain, accelerated corrosion and rusting of many metals and contributes to the erosion of natural landscapes. DHMO contamination is a real, global issue, with DHMO being detected in lakes, streams and reservoirs across the globe. DHMO has caused trillions of dollars of property damage in almost every country, especially in developing nations.
Despite the danger, DHMO is commonly found in the household, in the form of additives in food and drinks, cleaning products and even styrofoam. There are no regulation laws for DHMO and multi-national companies continue to dump waste DHMO into rivers and the ocean. It is astounding to see such a deadly chemical go unregulated.
If you have not caught on by now, dihydrogen monoxide’s chemical formula is H2O – also known as water. Technically speaking, there are no false statements in the above description. But even children know that water is not only (relatively) safe, but necessary for life. The report on “dihydrogen monoxide” originates from a 1997 science fair project by Nathan Zohner, who was 14 years old at the time. His project was titled “How Gullible Are We?” and involved presenting his report about “the dangers of DHMO” to fifty school students to see what their reaction would be. 43 students favoured banning it, 6 were undecided and only one recognised that DHMO was actually water. Even more surprising is that there are cases (such as in California in 2004), where city officials came close to banning the substance, falling for the hoax. This goes to show how gullible people can be in the face of what they do not know.