Rudy Baum hit a sore spot with his editorial “Menacing Cell Phone Towers” on whether cell phone towers and the microwaves they emit are hazardous (C&EN, July 14, page 3). He presents his opinion as editor-in-chief, but the editorial then has an ACS disclaimer. That’s been one of my disappointments with ACS over 60 years: It’s gutless. If ACS isn’t an “authority” on chemical risks for the public, then who is?
Along the same line, New Jersey is now passing legislation to ban smoking in public parks, beaches, and so on. As a Ph.D. chemist who spent a good part of my career working on detection and control of hazardous materials, I’ve tried to point out that the hazard from such incidental exposure is nil. And I’ve tried to point out that there usually is no correlation between odor threshold and hazard threshold, but, again, no one wants to listen. Years ago, a science teacher cursed me out on the phone because of such a position of logic and science.
There are many similar issues. An individual taking an opposing viewpoint is vilified, while lousy science is embraced. Years from now, when no improvements result from such restrictions, others may finally see the light. In my opinion, ACS has a moral responsibility to stand up and speak out for truth and science, rather than sitting on the sideline because of fear of its commercial advertisers.
Herb Skovronek(ACS has commercial advertisers? I guess it does.)
Morris Plains, N.J.
I suspect that this has been a major fight over the years within ACS -- should ACS stand up for specific classes of chemicals? How can it speak the scientific truth without bending to its members (some of whom work for major chemical manufacturers?) Surely, with cell phone towers, the large preponderance of the data is that electromagnetic radiation from them is mostly harmless.
I wish I knew the history of ACS and whether or not it's taken stands on specific chemical issues over the years: PCBs, Agent Orange, etc. My guess is 'no', but I dunno. Readers?