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Fear of the unseen

Pylon tests show the messiness of science, says Philip Ball

By Philip Ball   April 2012

A murmuration: the navigational processes of birds are thought to involve quantum effects

Some debates on public health are best viewed as sociological rather than scientific questions. The controversy over the dangers of electromagnetic fields (EMFs), such as those produced by power lines, microwave ovens and mobile phones, is one. From a scientific perspective there is no controversy. Thousands of papers have been written on the topic, and we know more about the putative risks than about those of most chemicals. The conclusions of these studies are clearly adduced by the World Health Organisation, which states that “short-term exposure…

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