The dangers of dihydrogen monoxide

A reader sent me this link under the heading, “Why some science education really is necessary.”

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) – City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.

Then they learned that dihydrogen monoxide — H2O for short — is the scientific term for water.

Well, water can be dangerous.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Mad Scientist says:

    This could have been avoided if the paralegal had been forced to take a chemistry class in high school.

    It never ceases to amaze me how liberal arts types can rail against the uneducated (according to them) techies, but refuse to go outside their own little world.

  2. D. Cooper says:

    Actually Joanne, well water can be dangerous!!

  3. This “hoax” has been around for so long that I can’t believe anybody at the government level could possibly fall for it. I mean, you type it into Google and you get all kinds of hits about how it’s, well, a long-standing hoax.

    That’s what they get for listening to some paralegal with too much time on her hands.

  4. Mad Scientist says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot:

    It’s all the unions fault!

  5. D. Cooper says:

    Cruising around the web site I see and dropping little bombs. It doesn’t get any more immature than this. Just remember … for retirement in NYS there’s NYSUT, for everything else, there’s Master Card.

  6. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    Anne Haight wrote:

    >This “hoax” has been around for so long that I can’t believe anybody at the government level could possibly fall for it. I mean, you type
    >it into Google and you get all kinds of hits about how it’s, well, a long-standing hoax.

    Using quote marks around the word “hoax” is appropriate I think.

    The websites decrying the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide are by and large making true statements about the dangers of using water in a careless or foolish manner. They just state the case in hyperbolic terms, much like that of many other advocacy groups.

    Drowning becomes “accidental inhalation”, for example.

    The uninformed trollee then jumps to ridiculous conclusions, including the conclusion that H2O is a new and poorly understood dangerous compound.

    That makes the phenomenon much more a troll than a hoax. Now some trollees are flopping around in the bottom of the boat.

  7. Mark Odell says:
  8. I did some digging at the “home” site of this cause, (dhmo.org) and found a couple of interesting things:

    1) None of the many claims that they make are false… For example, water can be found in every cancerous tumor, and is the enabling component of acid rain…
    2) Someone has WAY too much free time on their hands to create a site like that… (And apparently a couple of “opposition” sites as well…)
    3) I read most of what the site has to offer, so that must mean that I have WAY too much free time on my hands…

  9. Mad Scientist says:

    Yep, I drop bombs, and you pick every one of them up. You are too easy.

    As if you could not tell I was just yanking your chain.

  10. Mad Scientist says:

    As for the origin of dihydrogen monoxide. You can find official MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheets) from companies that supply highly purified water for HPLC applications.

    Part of the MSDS (a government mandated document, BTW) is a listing of synonyms. Since the common name is WATER, synonyms are “dihydrogen monoxide” (the official IUPAC name) and hydrogen oxide.

    You should really Google one of these to see the lengths companies must go to document what something innocous is. There are mandated sections for flammibility limits, explosion limits, toxicity, and the like.

  11. Walter Wallis says:

    Governments need explicite limits on authority.

  12. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Going back the a previous item, maybe the paralegal was too busy studying Shakespeare to learn what dihydrogen monoxide is.

  13. Bob Diethrich says:

    Going back the a previous item, maybe the paralegal was too busy studying Shakespeare to learn what dihydrogen monoxide is.’

    Naah Richard that would be giving her too much credit. Probably has a BA in English without ever reading Shakespeare; instead concentrated on neo-Marxist, post-deconstructed, pre-nonpost modernistic, third world lesbian literature, in which her professors fawned over any barely literate sub-Saharan African who managed to have horrible poetry published.

  14. I’m a chemist, and this particular item has been around almost unchanged since I was in high school in the early ’70’s.

    It’s amazing how radical and knee-jerk some people can be, and while it’s always good for a laugh, it really ought to make us cry instead. Cry for the common lack of critical thinking skills, lack of even basic scientific knowledge and training, and for the immature overreaction of ignorant readers with good intentions and zero intelligence.

    By the way, my 8 year old daughter ‘got’ the joke immediately and thought it was hilarious. I don’t think any of her teachers or her principal would get the joke, however….

  15. Justthisguy says:

    Dow-Corning ought to sue that pseudolegal (nah, she ain’t even pseudo – must be a swaydolegal). Only some polystyrene foam is Styrofoam(Tm), and it’s not, I believe, the kind used in coffee cups.

  16. Who would make a policy decision based on the unreviewed opinion of a paralegal? Pretty scary…

  17. Couple of legal corrections here:

    First, STYROFOAM (TM) is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company, NOT Dow Corning Corp.

    Dow Corning is NOT Dow. Dow Corning is a 50-50 joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Corning Glass Works (now Corning, Inc.).

    STYROFOAM (TM) is a trademark used on various building products, such as foam insulation (that stuff you put on your house). IT IS NOT the stuff your drink cups are made out of. Your cups are made out of EPS (Expanded PolyStyrene foam); so are those little ‘peanuts’ that are used in packing; so are the food ‘clamshells’ you put your leftovers in at the restaurant. They are NOT “STYROFOAM (TM).

    Okay, /legal hat off.

    By the way, if a company does not show due diligence in correcting incorrect or misuse of trademarks, they can lose them. And for most companies, trademarks, service marks, etc., represent a sizeable investment and also sizeable value in the marketplace, in licensing revenues, in ‘branding’ or name recognition, etc., often into the millions of dollars. So while it seems a small thing at first glance to most people, it’s really not. It’s big money.

  18. Cousin Dave says:

    Richard: Given those two items together, we can surmise that the paralegal was telling the council: “Beware the dihydrogen monoxide of March 15!”