Many household items can be made of a variety of different materials. Some of the materials are natural, and some are synthetic (created by people); still others are a combination, such as wood impregnated with an anti-mold compound.
Synthetic materials can be designed to meet specific criteria and made consistently. Some people prefer the variation in natural items and are concerned about the side effects of some synthetic compounds.
The effects of many chemicals on human health are not well understood. Many chemicals are relatively new and have not been studied. Combinations of chemicals or other artificial substances may act differently than those same substances separately.
Artificial materials are not necessarily worse than "natural". After all, many poisons, such as arsenic or hemlock, are natural. And some artificial substances have properties that allow them to be stronger, lighter, cheaper or more useful in other ways than their earlier natural versions.
- Natural vs. Synthetic: What Does it Mean to Be Natural? by Dr. Holly Phaneuf
- Organic Gardening Guru on Organic vs. Synthetic Fertilizers
- Suite101 on The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Fabrics by Cara Stromness (May 5, 2010)
- SixWise.com on The 6+ Synthetic Fabrics You Most Want to Avoid, and Why