Great riffing from Michael Siegel on the absurdity of the “no safe level” claims driving increasingly intrusive legislation. (Link to article here.)
There is no safe level of exposure to arsenic, another carcinogen. However, the Santa Cruz city water supply was found to have levels of arsenic of up to 2.5 ppb in 2008. And tetrachloroethylene, another carcinogen, was also detected in the Santa Cruz drinking water supply in 2008. The treated drinking water in Santa Cruz was reported to have trihalomethane levels of up to 87 ppb in 2008. Many of these compounds are considered carcinogenic, and there is therefore no safe level of exposure.
Is the Santa Cruz City Council notifying its residents that there is no safe level of exposure to the city’s water supply?
You see, this is the problem: when the only justification for banning an exposure is that you believe no person should ever have to be exposed to any level of that substance, then you open yourself up for this kind of criticism. This is why it is important to be able to justify smoking bans based on actual evidence of substantial exposure and significant health effects. But if all you can fall back on is that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke outdoors – even a whiff of it – then you are no longer acting in a consistent and justified manner.