Risk : A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-10-01
  • Publisher: Mariner Books

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An indispensable and timely guide, Risk is the authority for assessing threats to your health and safety. We continually face new risks in our world. This essential family reference will help you understand worrisome risks so you can decide how to stay safe and how to keeps risks in perspective. Expert authors David Ropeik and George Gray include information on: - 50 top hazards - your likelihood of exposure - the consequences - ways to reduce your risk They cover topics such as: - cancer - biological weapons - indoor air pollution - pesticides - radiation

Author Biography

David Ropeik is the director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. He was an award-winning journalist for two decades. George Gray, Ph.D., a toxicologist, has served as acting director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. Accidents 23
2. Air Bags 34
3. Alcohol 39
4. Arti?cial Sweeteners 48
5. Bad Backs, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Other Repetitive Task Injuries
6. Caffeine 64
7. Cellular Telephones and Driving 70
8. Cellular Telephones and Radiation 76
9. Electrical and Magnetic Fields 81
10. Firearms 87
11. Foodborne Illness 97
12. Food Irradiation 104
13. Genetically Modi?ed Food 109
14. Mad Cow Disease 117
15. Microwave Ovens 121
16. Motor Vehicles 125
17. School Buses 135
18. Tobacco 139
19. Air Pollution (Indoor) 151
20. Air Pollution (Outdoor) 166
21. Asbestos 180
22. BiologicalWeapons 186
23. Carbon Monoxide 195
24. DDT 202
25. Diesel Emissions 207
26. Environmental Hormones 212
27. HazardousWaste 223
28. Incinerators 232
29. Lead 241
30. Mercury 247
31. Nuclear Power 254
32. Ozone Depletion 264
33. Pesticides 270
34. Radiation 283
35. Radon 294
36. Solar Radiation 299
37.Water Pollution 308
38. Antibiotic Resistance 321
39. Breast Implants 329
40. Cancer 336
41. Heart Disease 348
42. Human Immunode?ciency Virus 363
43. Mammography 369
44. Medical Errors 376
45. Overweight and Obesity 384
46. Sexually Transmitted Disease 392
47. Vaccines 401
48. X Rays 410
Appendix 1: Various Annual and Lifetime Risks 421
Appendix 2: The Risk Meters 429
Acknowledgments 443
Notes 445
Index 459


INTRODUCTION"Ive developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time."- Charlie BrownWe live in a dangerous world. Yet it is also a world far safer in many ways than it has ever been. Life expectancy is up. Infant mortality is down. Diseases that only recently were mass killers have been all but eradicated. Advances in public health, medicine, environmental regulation, food safety, and worker protection have dramatically reduced many of the major risks we faced just a few decades ago. Yet new risks have arisen. Hazardous waste. Nuclear power. Genetically modified foods. Mad cow disease. Ozone depletion. Artificial sweeteners. For all the unquestionable benefits of the modern technological world and its scientific power, the march of progress that has given us longer, healthier lives has subjected us to new perils. We often react to this conflict, of progress on the one hand and risk on the other, with fear. Most of us are more afraid than we have ever been. And not just from any single risk that happens to be grabbing the headlines at a given point in time, whether its terrorism or West Nile virus. We are afraid, cumulatively, of all the new bogeymen to which our modern existence has exposed us. Many polls find that people feel the world today is more dangerous for humans than it has ever been. It is true that the industrial and information ages have spawned a whole new range of risks, and raised awareness of those that were lurking all the time. But research suggests that our fears may not match the facts. We may be too afraid of lesser risks and not concerned enough about bigger ones. Polls show a wide gap between what the public and the "experts" think is actually dangerous and what is considered relatively safe. Whos right? There are no simple answers. But information can help us begin to sort things out. Some basic facts about the risks we face, or think we face, can help us make more sense of just what we need to worry about. The intent of this book is to provide that information. We want to empower you to make better judgments about how to protect yourself and your family and friends. Our goal is to help you put the risks you face into perspective.Risk issues are often emotional. They are contentious. Disagreement is often deep and fierce. This is not surprising, given that how we perceive and respond to risk is, at its core, about nothing less than survival. The perception of and response to danger is a powerful and fundamental driver of human behavior, thought, and emotion. In writing this book, we tried to stay as neutral about these controversial issues as we could. We think that information devoid of advocacy is a tough commodity to come by these days, and will be more useful to you. We do not tell you what you should think. Nor do we make judgments about whether a risk is big or small for you a

Excerpted from Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You by David Ropeik, George Gray
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