The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District is considering fluoridation of its water for the seven communities it serves, two of which already fluoridate. Doing so would bring cavity reduction and stronger teeth to rural citizens who have gone without, to the detriment of their dental health as compared to fluoridated Arcata.
If any one of the water district’s seven clients decided against fluoridation, that could kill it for everyone.
Simple, inexpensive and effective, fluoridation is strongly recommended by virtually all medical authorities, with relatively few exceptions equivalent to a rounding error.
Fluoride opponents in Manila have been somewhat more circumspect in their claims as to the perils of the substance than their allies in Arcata were during the Measure W campaign two years ago. But only somewhat.
The nonsensical claims – attempting to associate fluoride with arsenic and DDT, or “government mind control through toxic waste” – have been scaled back, and supplanted with non sequitur statements quote-mined from studies serious and obscure.
That may just be a tactical decision, since invoking every imaginary malady from child limb amputations to mass retardation is plainly contradicted by the distinct lack of any known victims in Arcata, even after 46 years (not 50, as is commonly misstated) of community water fluoridation.
Plus, it didn’t work. Arcata voters wisely cut through the hysteria with a two-to-one re-approval of fluoridation two years ago.
Alas, for reasons known only to them, the opponents are still trading in misinformation such as blatantly distorted interpretations of a recent Scientific American story. That’s a piece worth reading, for it gives realistic context to the genuine concerns about ingesting this or any other substance.
Fluoride opponents tend to comb through scientific papers for some sentence that might, when cited out of context, offer some faint glint of doubt about fluoride. They then fluff that up as shocking new “peer-reviewed science,” while willfully ignoring the clearly stated recommendations of the same studies that fluoride is safe and effective. You have to wonder why these zealots don’t just admit to themselves that this activity is all rather silly.
Of course fluoride is toxic, if you eat it right out of the bag. So are chlorine, vitamins, alcohol and just about anything else we consume safely on a daily basis. Any substance from cherries to cheese that was subjected to the intense scientific scrutiny fluoride attracts would likely turn up hitherto unknown factoids of interest, but no show-stoppers have come to light insofar as fluoride goes.
We in Arcata are deeply predisposed toward skepticism regarding the intentions of our government, Big Medicine and authority in general, and are spring-loaded to call BS on them. But the same applies to fanatics who would have us make a major public health policy change based on labored distortions, Internet quackery, superstition and hysteria.
We may one day uncover something genuinely troubling about fluoride. That hasn’t happened yet. We can only hope that Manilans, like Arcatans did two years ago, will see through the silliness, and approve Measure B so that Northern Humboldt County can receive the health benefits of fluoridation.
Focus the Nation
As contrived as the fluoride fear is, there is a very real menace facing Arcata and the rest of civilization, and that’s climate change. Interestingly, the issue is similar to fluoridation in an inverse sense, in that there is overwhelming evidence that Earth is heating up and that catastrophic results could ensue, and yet a diminishing minority of refuseniks (unfortunately including our nation’s “leaders”) wish to downplay or even dismiss the phenomenon.
So for now, it’s up to the rest of us to understand and act on this incipient crisis. Tomorrow, “Focus the Nation,” billed as a national conversation on climate change, takes place at Humboldt State University and 1,500 other college campuses across the country.
The HSU event is a multidisciplinary symposium (see schedule, page A3) reminiscent of the late Eric Rofes’s marvelous Education Summits, with many interesting discussions scheduled and something for everyone.
It’s up to all thoughtful Arcatans to fill in the leadership vacuum and give our government some crucial direction tomorrow by going up the hill and getting involved, then participating in the Town Hall meeting Thursday night at City Hall.
Yes on Measure A
The negligible Utility Users’ Tax (UUT), Measure A on the Feb. 5 ballot, deserves renewal one more time. This three percent tax on Arcatans’ utilities has quite rightly been called a “quality of life tax,” since it makes possible a staggering range of services which we’ve come to expect and rely on.
But this should be the last time we have to renew the UUT. The City Council’s goal-setting sessions are coming up, and it’s their responsibility to make a priority of shifting essential services away from a funding source that dries up every four years.
The City of Arcata is generally well-run by by conscientious citizen-leaders and a dedicated staff, but woefully underfunded for the demands that are placed on it.
The Utility Users’ Tax is essential to Arcata’s well-being. Vote yes on Measure A.