The danger of breathing

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The danger of breathing

Remember the Alar scare? I’m not sure I ever saw it myself, but the legendary news clip lingers in my mind: suburban women chasing the school bus to try to retrieve a possibly Alar-sprayed apple from their child’s lunchbox. Health and the environment are closely connected, but we need to keep our perspective. My daughter sent this quote, making a joke of our modern hysteria about safety and hygiene:

Science Editor Daniel Koshland lampooned this mood last June
when he invented an interview with “Dr. Noitall” whose “appearance
on three talk shows is enough to qualify me as an expert.” “Are
there other dangers about which the EPA has failed to advise us?”
Noitall is asked. “Breathing,” he says. “All breathing generates
oxygen radicals…the main sources of mutations in DNA, leading to
cancer, birth defects…. Breathing has been observed three minutes
before death in 100% of all fatalities. We urge everyone to stop
breathing until proper research has been carried out.”
The article is “The wasteful pursuit of zero risk” by Warren T.
Brookes.

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