Atomic No. 17: Downplaying the Insidious Effects of Chlorine-Bleach-Containing Products in the Cleaning Industry

Susana Barron, UC Davis

The adverse health effects experienced in the cleaning industry while using chlorine-bleach-containing products vary from skin irritations, irreversible eye damage, chronic upper respiratory problems and death. Air ventilation, other compounds in the environment, and protective gear are some of the determining safety factors, but the marketing strategies that manufacturing companies use give little to no indication that potential health problems can arise. The disconnect from these toxic chemicals and the marketing strategies used is becoming even more problematic with the recent push to market these toxic products on social media platforms where a false sense of trust is created and consumers are susceptible to influencer fraud which has the potential of having the same harmful effects as “fake news.” My project consists of a video installation that provides an unfiltered view of these highly volatile and reactive chemicals and how recent marketing strategies are leading to misrepresentation and abuse of trust. The video is projected on a screen constructed with white spray bottles as a way to counter the messaging format used by the manufacturing companies. With their presence, the cleaning bottles become characters standing in front of the screen to help disrupt the highly choreographed marketing content that’s created for these toxic substances.