Paul Brodeur, a seminal voice in publicizing asbestos and electromagnetic radiation health risks, died August 2 on Cape Cod, MA, at the age of 92. For close to 40 years, Brodeur was a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, where many of his exposés first appeared before he expanded them into books.

In December 1976, the New Yorker ran Brodeur’s two-part article on microwave radiation. It would become a sensation in the otherwise insular world of electromagnetic health that up to then had been dominated by military and industrial interests. The following year, Brodeur published The Zapping of America.

Paul BrodeurPhoto by Bill Ravenesi

The book’s subtitle told the story: Microwaves, Their Deadly Risk and The Cover-Up.

More than decade later, in June 1989, Brodeur returned with another two-part series, this time focusing on EMFs from power lines and computer terminals, which had been links to cancer, miscarriages and birth defects. The articles became the basis for his next two books, Currents of Death and The Great Power Line Cover-Up.

Brodeur’s most influential work was on asbestos. His first piece, “The Magic Mineral,” appeared in the October 12, 1968, issue of the New Yorker. There, he described the epidemiological studies of Irving Selikoff, who documented high rates of lung cancer and mesothelioma among asbestos-exposed workers.

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Brodeur followed up with two more multi-part series in the magazine —one of these ran in five consecutive issues— and these turned into two books, Expendable Americans (1974) and Outrageous Misconduct  (1985).

I will have much more to say about Brodeur in the near future. For now, here are four obituaries. The first, in the Provincetown Independent, was written largely by Brodeur himself.

• “An Environment Crusader, Writer Paul Brodeur Dies at 92,” Provincetown Independent, August 9;

• “Paul Brodeur, Environmental Writer Who Exposed Dangers of Asbestos,” Boston Globe, dies at 92,” August 9;

• “Paul Brodeur, Journalist Who Exposed Asbestos Hazards, Dies at 92,” Washington Post, August 10;

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• “Paul Brodeur, Reporter Who Exposed the Hazards of Asbestos, Dies at 92,” New York Times, August 17.

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