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Non-ionizing radiation: Fact and fiction

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1 Author(s)
Lubell, Peter ; SSIT Interim AdCom

Public awareness of the “potential health hazards” of RF and microwave radiation dates from the disclosure, in 1972, of Russian irradiation of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Previously, so-called “death rays” had been relegated to the pages of science fiction. This concern was heightened a few years later by a series of expose-type articles by Paul Brodeur, which appeared in the New Yorker magazine. While it is certainly not a scientific journal, the New Yorker reaches a highly intelligent and decisive element of the general population. These articles were soon followed by the publication (in 1977) of Brodeur's sensational book, “The Zapping of America,” wherein he contended that the entire U.S. population was immersed in a toxic sea of unhealthy radiation. Most recently, in June 1980, a New York State Compensation Board, ruling that a New York Telephone Company technician had died of a disease labeled as “Microwave Sickness,” caused a rash of articles in the public press with such headlines as: “Panel Says Mcirowaves Were Fatal “(Newsday, March 3, 1981) and “Microwaves: Are They a Peril?” (The New York Times, April 21, 1981).

Published in:

Technology and Society  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 3 )