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Wait, Electricity Isn’t Harmful To Health?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Sometimes, the list of things to be paranoid about feels endless: BPA in your water bottles, pesticides on your food, prescription drugs in your drinking water, and nanotechnology in your donuts. Luckily, most of these things will not statistically be responsible for your ultimate demise (you can likely credit heart disease and cancer for that). As Robert Sapolsky points out in his hilariously named Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, we have too much time on our hands, and as such, we tend to fill it with worrying about who (or what) is out to get us. But we are so consumed by the threat du jour that we rarely give any thought retrospectively to what was worth worrying about and what was pure phobia. I recently stumbled across this delightful (nyuk, nyuk) reminder:

Edison Electric Warning

Can you read the fine print? It says:

The use of Electricity for lighting is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep.


Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. jimmy boy 4:10 pm 04/23/2013

    Could this sign be from the time Edison power was DC not AC?

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  2. 2. Derick D 5:18 pm 04/23/2013

    Hey, I’m not worried about BPA killing me. I’m worried about it giving me man-boobs. There’s plenty that will harm you without killing you (yes, that includes being too worried about all the things out there that can harm you…).

    And as far as untested nanoparticles on donuts, I’ve got just one word for you: Thalidomide.

    If more doctors (not to mention the FDA: epic fail) had asked a few simple questions we’d have a lot fewer people walking and wheeling around with stunted or missing limbs.

    Companies produce products to turn a profit, not to serve the public interest. You have to look out for your own self in this world – no one else is going to do it for you. Hence, Caveat Emptor. It’s not being paranoid, it’s just being an informed and responsible consumer.

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  3. 3. nicholasjh1 11:17 am 04/24/2013

    Yeah, because I’m sure Edison was concerned with an in depth study of long term effects. NOT. He probably did study immediate effects.

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