Humans Have Made or Discovered Over 50 Million Unique Chemicals

Yesterday, the American Chemical Society's database of identified, unique chemical substances hit the 50 million mark. Most of these discoveries were made quite recently:

“A novel substance is either isolated or synthesized every 2.6 seconds on the average during the past 12 months, day and night, seven days a week in the world,” said Dr. Hideaki Chihara, Ph.D. chemist and former president of Japan Association for International Chemical Information.

The rate new chemicals are being produced and isolated is astounding. It took 33 years to get the first 10 million chemicals registered and a mere nine months to get the last 10 million chemicals into the database. In part, the acceleration is due to better tracking by the American Chemical Society, but laboratories around the world are also just producing (and patenting) a tremendous amount of molecules.


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Image by flickr user delta avi delta used under creative commons license.

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