Please Don’t Eat the Roses

An Associated Press story today warns that the roses you get for Valentines Day could be lethal.  In places like Columbia, they are “sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals” and “unlike edible fruits and vegetables they are not tested for chemical residues.” But there is an easy answer to that:  Don’t eat the roses!  As for trace level contamination from a few sniffs a day, fear not.  Such low level exposures pose negligible risks.  Chemically caused cancers largely result from long-term chronic exposures to certain chemicals.  There is no evidence—or even a good reason to even believe—that people are getting cancer from ornamental flowers!  In fact, despite the fact that we are regularly exposed to trace levels of an increasing number of man-made chemicals, people have been living longer and healthier lives, and cancer rates have been going down  for many years.  So put your worries aside and take the time to smell the roses.