Ah, the safety of glass.
A story last week caught our attention as an example of what happens when people don't do a very good job of weighing the relative risk of various products.
The Vermont Public Interest Research Group — a Montpelier, Vt.-based advocacy group for various progressive causes — announced it would distribute a few hundred glass baby bottles to consumers. The decision followed a story in Consumer Reports that a harmful additive to polycarbonate baby bottles can leach out when they are heated.
VPIRG claimed it had several dozen orders from parents who could not find glass bottles in the state.
There's an obvious reason that plastic has taken market share from glass in applications like milk, soda, ketchup and baby bottles. If some parents are not aware of that reason yet ... well, you don't need to pass an IQ test to have children.
Meanwhile, the validity of Consumer Reports' study still is being questioned. And even if parents want to avoid PC, they can find plenty of polyethylene baby bottles on the market. Although VPIRG claims consumers can't tell the difference, that's simply not true. All they need is a little education. Perhaps VPIRG's anti-plastics bias is showing on that point.
The plastics industry always will have trouble on this type of issue. The burden of proof is very low. Critics just need to raise the possibility of a health hazard to infants and some parents will stop using a product immediately. Never mind putting the risk into the proper perspective, or scientifically proving risk to humans in the first place.
It's enough to shatter your confidence in folks' common sense.