Do you eat silica gel? You know, those little packets of hard, tiny balls that say "DO NOT EAT" all over the outside. I'm imagining you probably don't. I think it's safe to say most people have that particular instruction down by now, which is ironic given that eating silica probably won't do much damage to your body. Following other instructions seem to be a bit more difficult. Laundering labels on clothing - why would people read those when they can always return the mangled item and pretend they followed the instructions? (Just so you know, those friendly sales people you're trying to con know you're lying!) Prescription drug warnings are at least a page long. That's just going to take too much time. You'll know you've done something wrong or are having a negative side effect when you end up at the hospital. And then there are STOP signs, WOAH we won't even go there. There's one road I drive regularly where people stop at a location where there ISN'T a stop sign and it's all I can do not to relocate their back fender to their passenger seat. Why can’t people read labels?
This isn’t a case of “read the f-ing manual.” Labels are short - shorter than Cliff’s notes. So maybe the sick people are in denial, or too tired to read, or have already gone blind from staring into the sun while dripping Visine into their eyes. We’ll give them a break. What about the people who don’t read the labels on cleaning products? I paid attention in chemistry class. And, I love things that explode. The world is safe by the sheer ridiculousness that I can’t seem to light matches without setting my fingernails on fire. (The long wooden stick ones are okay, but who has those lying around?) The following chemical reaction is not explosive, but it’s pretty pungent: NaOCl + NH3 => NaOH + NH2Cl.
So, my dear mother had to have an impromptu company meeting about that reaction the other day. Her boss had called everyone out of their offices to explain, with incredulity and the charade of holding up two empty bottles he found in the trash, the reason for the terrible smell in the office. NH2Cl – Chloramine gas, the result of someone’s brilliant idea to mix bleach and ammonia in an effort to clean up a mess in the bathroom. DON’T DO THAT!!!!!! Chloramine may not be mustard gas (sorry to burst any urban myth bubbles), but it’s still super toxic. If I’m not mistaken there’s also a sweet spot ratio in there where if you get too much bleach to ammonia there’s a chance of creating trichloramine …… KABOOOOOM!!!!!!!!! Mix your chloramine with more ammonia and you might get hydrazine, one of the components of rocket fuel. “Woman Sick Of Cleaning Up After Husband Accidentally Sends Herself To Mars.”
Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH or lye) is the active chemical in Drano. Chemical companies don’t put warning labels on their products because they like stickers or find them aesthetically appealing. Things like Drano, deliciously caustic and designed specifically to break down organic compounds, are not smart enough to know that your hand is not the targeted organic compound. And HAZMAT does not stand for Housewives’ Antimicrobial Zealoutry Misstep Action Team. I’m sure they’d rather not be called in to remove biowarfare grade chemicals from your bathroom floor.
On a slightly entertaining tangent about Drano - while what I’ve told you is true, that its action ingredient is caustic and will burn your skin off and similarly your insides if you sniff it, SC Johnson is really excited to assure you that their product contains no lead, mercury, hexane, or formaldehyde. Thanks? I’ll try and remember that while I’m admiring the color of my skinless phalanges. SC Johnson also wants you to know that the sodium nitrate they put in the product that will burn off your skin is “naturally found in many vegetables.” I would have included that it absorbs the hydrogen gas created to keep your drains from exploding, but to each his own. (Don’t smoke while using this product….. and don’t try and make your own… and on a sidenote, stop smoking at gas stations!)
The people who should be reading labels are obviously not the ones doing it so you have to wonder how some warnings end up on labels at all. I understand that plastic bags aren’t to be used as toys or put on your head. It made sense to me that I shouldn’t take my laptop into the bathtub. The new hair dryer my mom purchased, however, said, “Do not use while sleeping.” How does THAT work?
I was doing some reading about an old friend AJAX (which I will never buy again since I’ve discovered the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser) and came across this:
So…. When this person says “as far as I know I am healthy.” I would like to counter with, “Obviously, fine sir/madam, you are not healthy. You're eating powdered bleach. And that means you are sick in the head."
And THEN I came across THIS:
And now I am just frightened. We clearly have bigger problems than people not reading labels. People eat Ajax and Drywall like they're Cheerios. I find more and more reasons to not leave the house every day. I’m thinking we need some chloramines in the gene pool.