Seven years ago, a ridiculous amount of people were convinced that the world was going to end on December 21, 2012, mostly because of some kind of miscalculation involving an ancient Mayan calendar and because everyone's dumbest relatives wouldn't stop sending email forwards about it. "The world will not end in 2012," Dr. John Carlson, the director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy, told NASA on December 22, 2012. "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012."
In 2017, NASA updated that same web page, "Beyond 2012: Why the World Didn't End," after another conspiracy theory suggested that the world would end for real this time that September, when another planet crashed into Earth. Despite the fact that we're all still here—and despite Carlson's seemingly reassuring words—our planet may not in fact be "getting along just fine."
Why? Because it's 2019, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) just had to release a consumer update AND a press release instructing people to stop drinking an industrial bleaching agent. The agency said that it has "received many reports" of people downing sodium chlorite products that have been sold under names like Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, or Water Purification Solutions.
Several of these ridiculous concoctions are sold with a "citric acid activator," which, when it's mixed with the sodium chlorite, turns it into chlorine dioxide, which is a strong-ass bleach. (It's also the same chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency used to fumigate a U.S. Senate office building that was contaminated with anthrax in 2001, and to eliminate the mold and mildew that developed in homes that were flooded during Hurricane Katrina.)
"Sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide [...] are not meant to be swallowed by people," the FDA wrote. And it had to write that sentence because some online hacks have managed to convince a terrifying number of consumers that their "Miracle" bleach juice can be used as a treatment for everything from autism and cancer to HIV and hepatitis. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
"The FDA has received reports of consumers who have suffered from severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure after drinking these products," the agency wrote. (It also said that the labels sometimes tell consumers that vomiting or diarrhea are "evidence that the product is working"—which is obviously not true either.)
This isn't the first time that the FDA has had to warn people about these products—it mentioned Miracle Mineral Solution in a warning in 2010—and the idea of drinking industrial bleach to cure an assortment of ailments isn't new. The solution was originally championed by Jim Humble, a former Scientologist who started his own church, called Genesis II. A former real estate agent named Kerri Rivera picked up where he left off, suggesting that the potentially toxic combo could cure autism.
What makes her worse than Humble was that her claims seem to have encouraged a terrifying number of parents to give chlorine dioxide products to their autistic children. She wrote a book called Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism and claimed that giving autistic children "hourly doses" of chlorine dioxide and chlorine dioxide enemas could "kill pathogens in the brain."
Amazon stopped selling Rivera's book in March, but a search for similar products on the site reveals that another book that promotes using industrial bleach to "treat autism" (which we have decided not to link to) is still available. What's even more distressing is that the first product under Amazon's "What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?" section is a liquid that the manufacturer suggests should be used for "treating the water in RV storage tanks."
Come on, NASA, where's that asteroid or rapidly approaching rogue planet when we need it?