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Linden is working on her PhD in Nutrition Intervention and Policy at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She believes in the power of fresh fruits and vegetables, shared meals, and good dirt.

Do less harm

New parents are always paranoid about their baby’s health and safety: don’t sneeze near the baby *germs!*, feed the baby organic food *pesticides!*, put the baby to sleep on their back *SIDS!* These, especially the last one, are legitimate parental concerns. But what about these concerns?

Don’t let the baby chew on toys with bisphenol A (BPA) *endocrine disrupter!*

Don’t let the baby crawl on the floor covered in smelly carpet *may release Volitile Organic Compounds!*

Don’t let the baby near the Wi-Fi when its on *electromagnetic fields!*

Don’t attend a cookout where a grill cleaning fluid is used *diethylene glycol¬†mono-n-butyl ether!*

How many of these compounds/potentially harmful substances can you describe, let alone identify their particular danger to your small child? There has been a lot of hype in the media about BPA-free products, but what about all the chemicals they are using in place of BPA in your plastic bottles and rubber duckies? Are they any better? It strikes me that the EPA, FDA, and CDC lack a comprehensive warehouse of information on all of the components in everyday products to help consumers make informed choices. Health communicators could certainly play a role in improving communication to consumers – the art of informing without causing a panic is subtle and sorely lacking! Even last week’s nuanced New York Times story leads and ends with sensational information (the dangerous chemicals you probably weren’t aware of in your cabinet).

If health communicators have a place, it should be at the health information-public knowledge interface.  They should be there to make sure that health information itself does as little harm as possible. Where are the health communicators in this discussion?

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