Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bureaucratic Carcinogens

I am in the Bay Area for a board meeting and stayed in a hotel last night.  On the desk I found a Prop 65 warning.   Prop 65 was a bit of silliness created by former Senator Tom Hayden - which was designed to warn us about possible carcinogens in our daily life.

This warning cautioned me to be worried about a) Second Hand Smoke (except it is illegal to smoke in a hotel in California); Transportation Related Exposures (I guess it is not a good idea to sleep with an exhaust pipe running in my room); Furnishings and Electrical Components (yeah, sure there are some things which taken in enough quantity have been shown to have a link with cancer.  Wait, I brought in three devices - my cellphone, iPad and iPhone - all three emit low level signals that some paranoids think may be linked to cancer - ooh.); Combustible Sources - all sorts of things like heating elements may have a remote link to cancer); and finally Food and Beverage Service (my God, if I eat or drink something I may get cancer?  Got to stop that.

The point is here that this two page disclosure is utter nonsense.  Some of the perils which might be real are prohibited by California law.   Others are simply the paranoid rant of whack jobs that see danger in every day life.  I wonder how much cancer risk I had in touching the paper which was created using solvents and other chemicals, when taken in very high doses, cause cancer.     The mind shudders.


Anonymous said...

We live in an extremely dangerous world. At the same time, our science is such that our lives are extended. I would not be alive at this moment was it not for science, i.e. open heart surgery. There are tradeoffs I guess.

Dr. Tax in Sacramento said...

Indeed there are dangers - I think the problem with Proposition 65 is that it highlights dangers that are not real or significant - that lessens our appreciation for those real dangers that we should be concerned about. Worrying about everything diminishes our appreciation of real dangers.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit more cynical than you I think. Prop 65 was drafted for lawyers. Hotels etc. act to diffuse liability. For example, I read an advisory on my skill saw that said. Do not use. Death may result. If you do use... etc.... As a lawyer familiar with torts, i can see the logic of notices... but these could irritate. What you yanks in california need is a proposition 66 that sets out dangers of everything and then declare that this law to be public notice for everything it contains.

Dr. Tax in Sacramento said...

I do not think we disagree. Prop 65 was drafted by ideologues and by and for lawyers. I like the idea of Prop 66 - but it is just too logical!