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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a question that has been bothering me a great deal. I feel embarrassed to ask, but I must.

My teen-age daughter has been receiving pen-pal letters from a girl in Ukraine (U.S.S.R.) who happens to live a few hundred miles from the Chernobyl disaster in a city called Dnepropetrovsk. Because I'm a natural worrier, mother of five and pregnant again, every time she receives a letter, I can't help but wonder if it is safe (non-radioactive).

I realize it has been five years since that tragedy, and cleanup has taken place, but I don't know whom to ask. Please help me. -- LOUISIANA WORRIER

DEAR WORRIER: Put your mind at ease. According to William Curtis, project leader at the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Radiation Programs, there is nothing to worry about. (Mr. Curtis is an oceanographer who journeyed to Chernobyl last year to conduct surveys for the EPA on radiation levels in the Black Sea.) He assured me that if his word isn't enough to ease your worry, you may take the envelopes to be analyzed at any university that has a radiation department.

DEAR ABBY: I know you can help me. I have a son who's 14 years old, and he is terribly afraid of the dentist. I started taking him to the dentist when he was 3 years old, but each time it was a terrible experience.

He has not been to a dentist for a checkup for more than three years because he is terrified of shots. (He even complains about how painful it is to have his teeth cleaned.)

My question is: Are there any dentists in Michigan who treat patients who have a phobia about dentists? My son needs to have a couple of teeth extracted. -- LIVONIA MAMA

DEAR MAMA: If your family dentist cannot (or will not) refer you to a dentist who specializes in phobic patients, get in touch with your county dental association and ask for some referrals.

Please don't cave in on this very important issue, Mama. Proper dental care is essential to your son's general physical health.

DEAR ABBY: "Hurt in Indiana" remarked that whenever she went to her son's home, she noticed pictures of his wife's family prominently displayed all over the house, but not one picture of his family was in evidence. That reminds me of this story:

One of my lifelong friends remarried after her first husband died. Husband No. 2, whose first wife had died, kept a very large portrait of Eve, Wife No. 1, hanging over the fireplace.

Finally, my friend, one of nature's true noblewomen, who wouldn't hurt a flea if she could get out of its way, said to Husband No. 2: "I have a very good portrait of Clifford (Husband No. 1) that would look lovely beside Eve."

The next day Eve's portrait mysteriously disappeared. -- AMUSED IN TULSA

Most teen-agers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's new, updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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