There have been many cases of materials, chemicals, and drugs that we discovered far too late were hazardous for health and the planet. These scenarios occur from ignorance, research oversights, or intentional manipulation of facts for the sake of profit and power. One famous example is the tobacco industry’s efforts to convince the public of the safety of cigarettes. They paid “merchants of doubt” doctors and scientists to deliberately obscure the truth, dispute peer-reviewed reports, and tout the “benefits” of cigarette consumption for medical conditions such as asthma.
Tobacco was even advertised to children. Another example is the “radium girls” who were told that the luminous paint used to paint watch dials was harmless enough to lick. They suffered horrendous effects such as anemia, bone fractures, necrosis of the jaw, and death. This infographic explores 20 of these cases and the subsequent lawsuits that resulted from the harm caused by the materials. It raises the question: what modern-day materials, drugs, and chemicals used liberally will we discover are dangerous?