I've encountered a question on the Skeptics.SE site asking about the possible affects of certain materials on the human body. In this case, it was the affects and lethality of cigarette smoke in a sealed room. Those kind of questions are off-topic in Skeptics.SE, so I referred the OP to Biology.SE and added Chemistry.SE with a "perhaps" before, as I'm not sure it's on-topic here.

Are questions about the affects of chemical materials on the human body, or any other plant/animal on topic here, or should they all be referred only to Biology.SE.

Examples can be:

  • Why does material X has affect Y when it touches the skin/inhaled/ingested/so on?
  • What will happen to animal/plant/human that inhales/ingests/so on material X?
  • Is there a chemical that can cause affect Y when consumed?
  • $\begingroup$ Usually effects of chemicals are off topic. Only some portions of biochemistry are allowed here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ Why isn't this an answer? $\endgroup$
    – SIMEL
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


I would say that unless they are fairly narrowly defined and can be explained in terms of actual chemistry (as in, this molecule binds to that receptor which causes this cascade, which manifests as that disease) they should be considered off topic.

Unfortunately, that can be hard to judge ahead of time - even a biochemist would only be familiar with a small subset of all the possible toxic chemicals and their effects. What looks to be off-topic by me may have a perfectly good, relatively simple and focused answer that could be provided by a biochemist who specialized in that particular area.

I would recommend biology to start, and if they specifically mention chemicals or if the substances are relatively pure, try this site with "biochemistry" tag.


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