The Perils of Progress: The Health and Environmental Hazards of Modern Technology and What You Can Do about Them

John Ashton, Author, Ron Laura, Author Zed Books $75 (360p) ISBN 978-1-85649-696-4
With thoroughgoing neo-Luddism, Ashton and Laura catalogue the health risks of common products and practices in our technologically modified world. Decrying artifice in food, air, water, transportation and lighting, the authors consistently sound the theme that nature knows best. Ranging from a discussion of the carcinogenic potential of polyunsaturated fats to the dangers of fluoridated water and the bacterial hazards of air conditioning, Ashton, an Australian chemist, and Laura, an American-born professor of education at the University of Newcastle (U.K.), detail the ills induced by technology and offer suggestions on how to avoid them. Their carefully researched arguments will both alarm and intrigue readers. For example, while documenting the correlation between aluminum in the brain and senility, the authors point out the futility of avoiding aluminum cookware, since aluminum in human diets comes mainly from water and food. Having worked out that burning one liter of gasoline consumes the oxygen that 45 small trees produce in a week, the authors suggest that each commuter annually plant and maintain the appropriate number of trees. They also claim that the incidence of skin cancer correlates positively with both sunscreen use and years of higher education. Despite somewhat stiff prose and statistics based on Australian populations, such provocative tidbits are among the rewards of the book's refreshingly high ratio of facts to rhetoric. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
Paperback - 346 pages - 978-0-86840-488-2
Paperback - 346 pages - 978-1-85649-697-1
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