Hung up on mobile phones
Uncertainty about potential health risk
- By: Simon Chapman
Public health workers and clinicians are often exasperated at the way patients can get thoroughly worked up over risks to their health that are demonstrably infinitesimal1 while behaving with sheer indifference towards genuinely high risk exposures. The parent vehemently opposed to immunisation because of the tiny risk of serious adverse reaction, while being prepared to risk much higher odds that their child will acquire a potentially deadly infectious disease such as meningitis; the 40 a day smoker who blithely puffs away while expressing concern at the dreadful risks she faces of toxic shock from a tampon; and so on. These examples are readily explicable to researchers in risk communication, but they bemuse others who see such behaviours as simply irrational.
Historically, new inventions such as the telephone, television, electric blankets, microwave ovens, and computer screens have all caused health panics after neo-Luddites pointed suspicious fingers. The controversy about whether mobile