Scare Tactics On Facebook: BVO

Lately it seems like Facebook is trying to scare us all to death with ominous warnings about brominated vegetable oil, deadly cake mix, killer brown recluse spiders and child-abducting men in silver cars, or cops who beat up civilians and might get their jobs back.

Then there’s the “fun facts” type posts about the main ingredients of WD-40.

The problem? All the stories about these things are only partially true at best. Each one leaves out vital pieces of information or includes vast swathes of incorrect information.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t repost information when you get it or when you see it on Facebook, but please take the 30 seconds it requires to check it out on or otherwise verify it.

Don’t add to the vast array of bad “information” out there. Don’t help make the world a little more ignorant. It only takes a moment to determine some of these things are not accurate.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

What the warning says: I’ve seen two warnings about this substance, which is found in Mountain Dew. One of them attempted to terrify people by asking “Do you feed your children flame retardants?” To which the answer is, of course, “Yes,” because water is a very effective flame retardant, and it is required to keep the human body functioning.

The other warning calls BVO a “poisonous, corrosive chemical.” The same can just as accurately be said about water: it can act as a poison in large enough quantities and its corrosive action is easy to see if you leave an iron object in the water for a while. And of course, everything is made out of chemicals, from good old H20 (water) to the oxygen we breathe, O2. (Oh, and that oxygen is explosive, by the way.)

What the warning leaves out: No studies have shown serious health issues caused by moderate consumption of beverages containing BVO at the concentrations typically used in those products.

That said: there have indeed been cases in which people have suffered ill effects from BVO in soft drinks, so there’s a grain of truth in the fear-mongering. However, those people were drinking 2-8 liters of soda in a day.

Dose makes the poison, and there are no toxic substances, only toxic doses. In sufficient amounts, water is a poison too, and excessive amounts of vitamin D can be very harmful. And drinking 2-8 liters of soda in a day is probably not a good idea anyway, BVO or no BVO. Caution and moderation is definitely called for; pouring out all your Mountain Dew really isn’t.

More information:,

4 Responses

  1. I find that you are feeding into the ignorance of Americans just as much as the so-called “fear mongering” posts you write about. Instead of finding your information on snopes, please dig deeper and do more research on these subjects. There are harmful substances allowed into our food by the American FDA- substances that are illegal in Europe. Cops are beating up and arresting civilians for no reason other that the fact that they feel like it. I find your ignorant rant atrocious and I can’t believe my local newspaper’s website has your blog on its home page. America is under attack by uninformed people like you.

    1. I have done research on several of these subjects beyond Snopes.

      However, the Facebook posts all contain inaccuracies and untruths as well as half-truths. They do not contain any information about tests done. They do not include any information about the documented actual effects of any of the substances, or any indication of the dosages at which they may be dangerous. They also do not encourage people to do research or be aware of the facts, nor do they link to any science involving the substances. All they do is scare people.

      It’s very, very important to discuss dosages when speaking about potentially toxic materials. As I noted in the post, water is a poison. Vitamin D will make you sick if you take too much. But we need both vitamin D and water. Arsenic, mercury and lead are all in the natural environment, even in areas where there is no industrialization. Our own bodies make formaldehyde and many fruits naturally produce cyanide.

      The amount at which substances become toxic or dangerous isn’t a minor detail; it is critical. The world is made of chemicals.

      People need to be aware of what’s in their food, and they also need to be able to interpret that knowledge. My post specifically calls for caution and moderation and requests that people do research before spreading information that may be false. I stand behind that.

      And while there certainly are bad cops, the Facebook post I referred to was about one specific person who was not in fact going to be reinstated. The post was out of date, yet was presented as if it were current, and as if this particular cop was in danger of getting his job back. And he wasn’t.

  2. Erica Sanchez

    While your blog does make a good point it’s not all true and if you do more research you will find large amount of cases where this chemical BVO has cause horrible affect on on human especially children. For some reason since ppl have been causing awareness those articles of those death are no longer on the internet . {interesting} I do not feed my niece soda she was 2 at the time and I gave her a children size plastic cup of Gatorade with in mins she started complaing of headache then started getting angry and then I felt she might need a nap and notice a fever and suddenly blisters. We had to rush her to st lukes in pa and shockingly it was the BVO she was reacting to . My point there should be a label that warns us that {large amount} varies according to height and weight just like the amount of medication we are suppose to intake. Her another example I’m 33 5’9 and weight 175pd on a hot summer day I drink tons of water according to study and research a gallon of water in one intake is dangerous ok I drank about 8-10 12oz cups of water a day every day for 4 days before I couldn’t take the pounding headache {which I already suffer from} wouldn’t go away Shockley when I go to my family doctor I had water intoxication. He gave me pedialyte 4 large bottles to take for the next few days and off all other liquids . My point is I didn’t sit there and consume large quantities neither did my niece and the body reacted I’m just saying a label that it’s harmful varies from height and weight is an amazing idea . Another point there is not more cases because sadly most ppl are not educated on the side effects of this chemical. For ex: it increase the risk of breast cancer as well as One 1983 animal study also found that rats receiving one percent BVO in their feed suffered impaired fertility, and at two percent, they became completely infertile. {might be the reason why you can’t have babies }

    Bromine is known to act as a central nervous system depressant, and can trigger a number of psychological symptoms such as acute paranoia and other psychotic symptoms. In fact, in an audio interview, physician Jorge Flechas reported that, between 1920 and 1960, at least 20 percent of all hospital admissions for “acute paranoid schizophrenia” were a result of ingesting bromine-containing products. In addition to psychiatric problems, bromine toxicity can manifest as:

    Skin rashes and severe acne
    Loss of appetite and abdominal pain
    Metallic taste
    Cardiac arrhythmias also Iodine is crucial for proper thyroid function. Without iodine, your thyroid gland would be completely unable to produce thyroid hormone. Even the names of the different forms of thyroid hormone reflect the number of iodine molecules attached — T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 (the biologically active form of the hormone) has three–showing what an important part iodine plays in thyroid biochemistry. Hypothyroidism is far more prevalent than once thought in the U.S.

    The latest estimates are that 13 million Americans have hypothyroidism, but the actual numbers are probably higher. Some experts claim that 10 to 40 percent of Americans have suboptimal thyroid function. As well as an increase risk of {auto immune disease} WARNING has you notice the super high increase of ppl suffering from auto immune disease lately ? lupus, Ms , rheumatoid arthritis ,inflammatory bowel disease etc well sadly sine the majority of ppl are not educated on the fact that these chemical can be a caused to these disease and side effect they go with what they know it must be inherited. {or it might be not only the amount your drinking but the other product contains these chemical combine with the liquid consumption. For ex: Medications such as Atrovent Inhaler, Atrovent Nasal Spray, Pro-Banthine (for ulcers), and anesthesia agents and certain doughs. Which again my point these product such say {warning if combine with other BVO products or taken in large amount differs in height to weight and age can cause damage even death } please dig deeper and inform us more thx u

    1. Everything in my post is true.

      Your experience with water intoxication is very interesting (and a little scary), but it does go to show that dose makes the poison, doesn’t it? Many people wouldn’t even believe that water can be a toxin too.

      Please make sure to distinguish between bromine, which is an element with the chemical symbol Br, and BVO, which is a compound containing oxygen atoms as well as bromine atoms. A compound may contain an element which is toxic by itself without the compound being toxic.

      Currently, bromism is rare, because we don’t ingest bromine in huge quantities anymore. Doing so is definitely a bad idea, as I stated in the post. Dose makes the poison; water is a poison if you take too much, just as BVO is. If something is bad for you in huge amounts, it does not follow that it is also bad for you in tiny amounts (although some substances are).

      Medical experts believe that the increase in people with autoimmune disorders is due to the fact that medicine has improved and we can keep those people alive now when they would have simply died young in less medically advanced times. There were times when diabetes was a death sentence, for example, and when someone with colitis may have simply bled to death. People with autoimmune diseases are typically more susceptible to nonrelated health problems too, so they died young.

      Now we can keep these people alive and functional and productive. That is why their numbers have gone up–they are not dying young.

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