01/07/2008 04:56 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Banning the (New) Lightbulb

If you knew there were a new product that was:
  • not as well tested as the product it is meant to replace
  • quickly becoming popular in offices and homes -- including homes with young children
  • manufactured by some of the world's largest and most profitable companies
  • possibly responsible for debilitating migraine headaches
  • a risk for skin diseases including skin cancer

...would you support a ban on the product until its safety could be
fully established?

The precautionary principle dictates that in the face of possible
danger to human health, even in the absence of complete proof of that
danger, it is best not to permit the hazard until its safety (rather
than its danger) is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. As they say,
it's better to be safe than sorry.

But if you agree, wouldn't you then have to join (or start) a campaign
to ban so-called "environmentally-friendly" compact fluorescent light
bulbs in light of reports like this one from the London Telegraph?

So: Are you sure you still like the idea of "erring on the safe side"
whenever a new technology emerges?

Jeff Stier is an associate director of the American Council on
Science and Health (,