Better Safe Than Sorry?

I once had an editor (not a Care2 editor) chide me for wanting to write about electromagnetic fields and how to avoid them. In a holier-than-thou tone of voice, he said that they don’t write about controversial health topics until the science about the health impact is clearly resolved.

Well, hello. What do you think? Was he right?

We live in a business culture where manufacturers can put toxic chemicals on the market–such as pesticides and solvents made of petroleum distillates–until they are proven unsafe. Only then are they removed.

Isn’t the editor buying into the existing system to wait until the proof is in the toxic pudding?

My approach is to write about any product that has some health concern flags raised so that we, consumers who care about our health and the health of our families, can learn enough to take a precautionary approach. An example would be with food dyes, which are coming off the market one by one as they are shown to be neurotoxic and carcinogenic. Why not be cautious and skip food dyes with your kids until the expected outcome comes to pass and they all are removed? My daughter survived with cake frosting made of blue from blueberry juice and red from raspberries. And she ingested antioxidants to boot.

Regarding the electromagnetic fields (EMFs), a poll taken in the early 90s noted that EMFs have garnered enough fear to rank them as the number one health fear in the United States. Wouldn’t you rather know some good news about how easy it is to live away from them (while we wait to find out if they are killing us or not) than to hear nothing? For example, it is just as easy to move your bed away from the wall it shares with the refrigerator in the kitchen on the other side. Just 3 to 6 feet away from such an appliance and the fields drop off considerably. Why not rest easy knowing that if EMFs are shown to cause leukemia, you’ve avoided them?

I’d like to know what you think about the editor’s decision to axe the story about easy ways to reduce your exposure to EMFs. And yes, I would have been careful to say that the jury is out about just how sick they may make us.


J.L. A.
j A5 years ago

an area deserving of more research

Tim Cheung
Tim C6 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Ramona Thompson7 years ago

My husband's family bought property which fronted a power line road. They built their houses here. My brother in law died unexpectedly after experiencing malaise, my sister-in-law suffered a stroke and lost partial vision, and my mother-in-law suffered from a debiliating illness. All 3 health issued happened within a short time of moving in to their new homes.

Some may say these are coincidences, but 3 members of one family suffering devastating illnesses upon moving in front of the power line road. What are the odds on that happening?

Mervi R.
Mervi R7 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Ivan Z.
Iván Z9 years ago

Of course, polls also report that a majority does not believe in Darwin's ideas of evolution, and we can add beliefs in extraterrestrial kidnappings and paranormal phenomena. Shouldn't your readers, then, also be warned about these potential health threats, even if "Science" refutes them. Why, after all, this is the same public that frets over elctromagentic fields.
You have a responsibility to figure out what the line is between responsible reporting of threats and any kind of notion, public or otherwise, that could end up, at its worst but realistic extreme, inducing mass paranoia.
Don't back up your position on convenient public polls while ignoring the public positions that might be inconvenient to your position.
For the record, I am not in the electric business, and I share your disgust at corporate greed and preying on our health very often with the complicity of scientists and government health officials. However, I am also a sociology and cultural studies professor who is as skeptical of "statistical evidence" (like public polls) as you are of editorial policies in rival publications.

Jeannine C.
Jeannine P9 years ago

View the US Congressional Hearing on Cell Phone Health Effects


To view the hearing live on-line click on the link below. At the time of the hearing - 11:00 AM Thursday Sept. 25, 2008 - the title of the hearing - Tumors and Cell Phones Use: What the Science Says - will be in blue, and clicking on it will take you to the live feed of the hearing. After the hearing a recording of it can be seen on line by clicking on "Recent Hearings and Meetings" and clicking on this same title.

US Congressional Hearing on Cell Phone Health Effects

What: US Congressional hearing on Cell Phone Health Effects
Convened by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

When: Thursday September 25, 2008
11:00 AM This hour could change. Starting Monday, Sept. 22, check at :

Pat zh
Pat zh9 years ago

check out the website:

Yes, please do cover this topic. Other countries are way ahead of us on this.

Luke D.
Luke D9 years ago

It is "satellite phones", not cell phones which were purported to contribute to brain cancers.