“All the Chemicals in the World are Poisons”

Hülya Karahan: The Founder


In the 15th century Europe, there was a man named Paracelsus from Switzerland. He has laid the foundations of medicine and chemistry while crossing the fields of science and alchemy.

So far, Paracelsus has attracted attention because it has established a new concept of disease. He argued that diseases arise from external toxins and suggested new therapies under this theory: chemotherapy using non-toxic minerals.

All the chemicals in the world, are poisons. It is an appropriate ‘dose’ to determine whether it will be a drug or a toxic substance, “he says, which is still an important topic for many scientists in the 21st century.

As new chemicals pour in every day, humanity around the globe is suffering from the toxic substances.

People live by using a lot of materials that exist on the earth. But as Paracelsus says, it can be harmful if the human body is exposed to too much chemicals.

The problem is that we are now exposed to a lot of chemicals, which is an advanced industrial society.

New chemicals are constantly being developed and registered, mainly in the industrial sector, and the number of these chemicals reaches 137 million. There is a constant controversy over the harmfulness of new chemical substances in each field of society.

The scientists held a discussion on this difficulty. On May 2, the Korean Committee for the Future District (Chairman Yoon, Soonchang) held the fifth ‘Future Earth Korea Debate‘ on the theme of ‘Chemical Human Hazards and Risk Assessment’ and heard opinions from related field scientists.

Professor Bae Ok-nam, professor of toxicology at Hanyang University, said, “The government, NGOs and others are working together to create a harmful evaluation system. “But there are so many confounding variables that we are socially confused.”

Serious disturbance variables are in the human body. Professor Bae said, “Even if the same toxicity is present, the toxicity may be different depending on the person,” he said. “It depends on the constitution or the degree of health. In addition, toxicities that do not show up in the general population can be seen strongly in pregnant women and fetuses. ”

The bigger problem is that companies use animal tests to judge harmfulness. Professor Bae insisted, “The human body and animals has a problem because of the big difference.”

Professor Bae introduced a new inspection method for human tissue as an alternative.

“We are using corneas that have been removed from human corneal surgery to check for the harmful effects of mascara,” he said. “We have to find ways to expand this.”

On the other hand, the problem of social awareness of toxicity is also a cause of the controversy about harm.

Professor Bae said, “In order to solve these problems, we are obliged to do toxic education from elementary school in Australia.” In Korea, toxic education is necessary.

“Toxicologists, studies should be revealed to the world”

There is also a claim that the overall toxicity research is far behind in Korea.

Professor Chung Jin-ho of the College of Pharmacy at Seoul National University said, “As I attended recent international conferences, I can confirm that the level of alternative testing methods in China is at a very high level and that Korea is far behind. I am staying in a way of thinking. ”

“In order to determine the risk of a particular substance, we consider two criteria: exposure and toxicity in many countries. “Exposure to double exposure is to examine how much chemical substances are evaluated in the human body under special circumstances.” However, in Korea, only one standard of exposure is emphasized.

Because of this research system, many scientists are struggling to accurately determine the hazards of chemicals. Professor Jung insisted that “the research department should have a full review of what research is needed.”

“Many companies focus on the external factors that can attract people’s attention, such as shape and smell, while promoting their products,” said Kyung Dong University professor Jeon Yeon Don of the Environment and Quality Management System Judge. In contrast, there are few issues such as toxicity. ”

It is the claim of Professor Jeong Yun-don that many consumers overlook the safety problem. “Many consumers need to have a pattern of publicity that can give them safety concerns,” he said.

There is also a claim that “scientists participating in toxicology research do not disclose the results of toxicity studies to the general public”. This has led many people to misunderstand toxicity and cause social disruption.

A recent example of a raid bed racket, and a humidifier disinfectant incident that caused a tragic incident were highlighted. Scientists claim that if toxic problems were raised in advance, they could have prevented the damage caused by toxicity.

It also pointed out the side effects of the media that promote confusion and toxicity. In particular, advertisements for products that are packaged with fantastic content are reducing the perception of safety.

Professor Bae Ok-nam said, “In order to prevent such a disease, a reliable research institute should be established so that all the toxicities nationwide can be rationalized.”

The Korea Committee for the Future Earth, which hosted the forum, said that the International Council of Scientific Committee (ICSU) will work with UN agencies such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and UNESCO to develop an international research program “Future Earth ) Is the Korean committee.

In order to participate in the efforts of the international scientific community, the Kagi Academy decided to pursue the ‘Future District – Korea Program‘ and launched ‘Future District Korea Committee’ last year. Currently, 30-40 members are active in the scientific community, education, journalism, civic organizations and government.