A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Paul Brodeur, Who Warned of Asbestos and EM Radiation Risks, Dies at 92

Author of “The Zapping of America” and “Currents of Death” Among Many Other Books

August 10, 2023
Last updated 
August 20, 2023

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 Ravanesi

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 a three-part series, this time focusing on EMFs from power lines, radar and computer terminals, which had been linked 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,” was in the magazine’s October 12, 1968 issue. There, he described the epidemiological studies of Irving Selikoff, who had documented high rates of lung cancer and mesothelioma among asbestos-exposed workers.

Brodeur followed up with two more multi-part series on asbestos —one of them ran in five consecutive issues beginning in October 21, 1973 (winning a National Magazine Award). He turned each series into a book: 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;

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