The setting: early morning in the atrium of a downtown Toronto hospital. The room is full…okay, sure, they’re waiting to get coffee, but a crowd’s a crowd. Suddenly, out of nowhere, theme music starts. A charismatic figure emerges from the wings…

Charismatic Game Show Host: Heidy-ho UHN, how is everyone this morning.?

Morning Crowd: Can I get a double-double, free-range soypucino please.

CGSH: Great! Well it’s time for another edition of “Good Chemical, Not So Good Chemical”, the game show where contestants are given a list of good chemicals and not-so-good chemicals and then provided with a moral at the end.

MC: Can you make that a skinny, please.

CGSH: Great! So without further ado, let’s get ready for…

Good Chemical, Not So Good Chemical

Theme song starts again. From the wings emerge a good chemical, a not-so-go chemical and a moral.

Good Chemical: dihydrogen monoxide when it’s mixed with free range crystalline xanthine alkaloid derived from the bean of C. arabica.

Not So Good Chemical: dihydrogen monoxide when it spills on your pants after being mixed with pureed pumpkin, onion, thyme and garlic.

GC: desflurane, sevoflurane and and/or isoflurane when you’re about to have a distal femoral varus osteotomy.

NSGC: desflurane, sevoflurane and and/or isoflurane when you’re not.

GC: mercury when it’s in a sphygmomanometer being used to monitor your blood pressure.

NSGC: mercury when it’s in your dinner.

GC: cinnamic aldehyde when it’s all over your fair trade French toast.

NSGC: cinnamic aldehyde when it’s all over your couch because your cute-as-a-button offspring really, really, really likes the smell and really, really, really couldn’t resist opening the jar (don’t ask me where I come up with these things, I just do).

GC: carbon dioxide when it’s expelled as a by-product of respiration.

NSGC: carbon dioxide when it builds up in our atmosphere at record rates and threatens life as we know it.

CGSH: Great! And now it’s time for our moral.

Moral: Chemicals in their own right are inherently neither good nor bad; what’s important is to have the right chemical in the right place at the right time. This is why UHN has policies and posters on the safe handling and disposal of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

CGSH: So there you have it folks, another rousing edition of “Good Chemical, Not So Good Chemical”.

Music starts again. Charismatic Game Show Host disappears into the wings muttering something about needing a new theme song. In the distance, the sound of a double-double, free-range soypucino being pulled echoes…


p.s.  Why, you may ask, is this only UHN’s Second Favourite Chemical Game Show?  Because, the favourite happened last year…relive the dreams at