Careful Mismanagement

J.L. Heilbron

  • Multiple Exposures: Chronicles of the Radiation Age by Catherine Caufield
    Secker, 304 pp, £12.95, January 1989, ISBN 0 436 09478 9
  • The Demise of Nuclear Energy? Lessons for Democratic Control of Technology by Joseph Morone and Edward Woodhouse
    Yale, 172 pp, £20.00, May 1989, ISBN 0 300 04448 8

Are your teeth false? The uranium in each of them may brighten your smile with about ten times the radiation you get from the natural background, from cosmic rays attacking from above and radon and its decay products attacking from below. Do you wear corrective lenses? They may add to the flash of your eye a radiation five times the natural background level. Then there is enamel jewellery, cloisonné, smoke detectors and slick paper. Reading a glossy magazine might do more harm to your body, though perhaps less to your mind, than watching television. These odd hazards, culled from a report released by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1980, are the comic relief of Ms Caufield’s book. Most of her material is more familiar and more alarming: the dangers of exposure to medical treatment, to nuclear hazards in the industrial work-place and to fall-out.

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