Our news media are constantly bombarding us with scare stories about radiation, pollution, dangerous chemicals, and other products of our technology. How dangerous are these threats, and how do they compare with other risks we constantly face in our daily lives? In a technical paper published in the June 1979 issue of the journal Health Physics, we collected quantitative information on risks from a wide variety of sources and analyzed it in terms of life expectancy reduction (LER), the average amount one’s life is shortened by each risk. For example, an average 40-year-old can expect to live another 34.8 years, so if he takes a risk that has a 1% chance of being immediately fatal, his LER is 0.348 year or 127 days. Of course, most risks are with us to varying extents at all ages and the effects must be added up over a lifetime, making the calculations somewhat complex. But the computer has done the work and we will only summarize the results.
KeywordsNews Medium Unskilled Laborer Smoke Alarm Life Expectancy Reduction Highway Safety
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