It's summer of 1995, and my son is a healthy three-year-old enjoying a visit from his grandparents. I'm a second-rate cook, and most of the meals I prepare for my guests go from the freezer to the microwave oven. Watching me in the kitchen, my father-in-law mentions a report he read in the newspaper: You should stand about three feet away from a microwave oven when it's operating, because that's how far the waves travel before they dissipate. After that, whenever my son hears the beep of the controls, he dashes to the other end of the kitchen until the microwave is done. My own home, it seems, harbors the phantom hazards of technology.
Now a hypothetical scenario. We're back to 1992, but this time my visit to the doctor's office is grim: I've been diagnosed with breast cancer. I elect to have a mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery with a silicone implant. Then I hear the news. The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has decided to ban silicone-gel-filled breast implants. Are the implants really dangerous? So far there's no scientific evidence in either direction -- safe or not -- but there have been some stories about women developing connective-tissue disease after getting the implants. Does that mean I'm at risk? If so, then I have another question: Is there someone I can sue? Continued...
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