The Great Fluoride Conspiracy

The fluoridation of municipal drinking water is counted by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th century. And now, bowing to the forces of unreason, the Santa Fe City Council has voted to stop adding fluoride to the water supply. If the decision stands, the level will fall far below the minimum considered beneficial and children, especially poor ones, will likely suffer from more tooth decay. But not to worry. Councilor Calvert calls for donating the annual $32,000 in budgetary savings to La Familia Medical Center, where it can be used to pay for more fillings and extracted teeth.

The great fluoride conspiracy theory began in the 1960s with the John Birch Society, which denounced fluoridation as part of a Communist plot to pollute our precious bodily fluids. Last year Tea Party activists persuaded one of the largest counties in Florida to stop fluoridation because it is “part of an agenda that’s being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government and the world government to keep the people stupid so they don’t realize what’s going on.”

The level of debate in Santa Fe fell just as low. Fluoridation is “one of the greatest scientific frauds done to the unsuspecting public,” one woman declared. “I am the grandmother of a perfectly normal child,” another testified. “Her mother gave her a drink of the city water, and now that child is autistic.” This kind of mania extends wordwide and was the subject of a cautionary study: “When Public Action Undermines Public Health.”

The reason this long settled issue has been reopened is a minor change in federal guidelines on how much fluoride is beneficial. Since 1962 the United States Department of Health and Human Services has recommended a level of 0.7 milligrams to 1.2 milligrams per liter of water. This minimum of 0.7 remains in place — going below it is considered detrimental to public health. All that HHS is doing is tightening the range. After considering the many other sources of flouride that have become available since the standard was set — toothpastes, mouth rinses, and so forth — they now consider those extra few tenths of a milligram to be superfluous. While the extra fluoride comes nowhere near levels considered detrimental — the primary risk of a small excess is tooth discoloration —  it is sensible to err on the side of conservatism. The problem is that without any supplements, the fluoride in Santa Fe’s water will fall to its natural level of 0.2 to 0.4 — about half of what it takes to prevent tooth decay.

According to the New Mexican, the water department has been boosting the level to 0.8. Insignificant though the difference may be, it would be reasonable to back off to 0.7. Maybe that will happen if, as reported today, the Council reconsiders its decision to end fluoridation altogether. So far, however, the only voices of reason have come from Councilor Ives and Mayor Coss. Councilor Calvert, on the other hand, argued that we should stop adding fluoride because 90 to 95 was wasted — used to water gardens, wash clothes and dishes, flush toilets, etc. Councilor Rivera voted against fluoridation because people should “have a choice.”

The same arguments could be used to stop chlorinating the water. Let the people be free to choose the consequences of more bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The money saved can be added to the donations for La Famila — to combat outbreaks of cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, and hepatitis.

George Johnson
The Santa Fe Review

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