When Professor Paul Connett was a young academic teaching environmental chemistry and toxicology at St Lawrence University in New York, he was reluctant to get involved in the fluoride debate for fear of being labelled a “loony”.

But on July 6, 1996, all that changed when he read a research paper and he realised “the people had been betrayed”.

“My wife gave me a cup of tea and these research papers and, as soon as I started reading them I thought ‘Oh my God people have a right to be concerned’,” he said. “There were several things there that gave the game away, but one thing that stuck with me was how incredibly low fluoride is in mother’s milk. If it was necessary for children’s teeth you’d expect it to be in mother’s milk… it’s as low as 0.004 parts per million and that’s 250 times less than what we add to water. I have a great respect for nature’s chemistry and biochemistry and I felt that nature wouldn’t screw up on this.”

He said as a university chemistry teacher he felt he had shirked a very important responsibility for not getting involved in the debate earlier.

“I had succumbed to the prevailing nonsense in the States that the people against fluoride were a bunch of crazies, and many people fear to get involved in the anti-fluoride movement because they don’t want to be tagged as loonies,” he said. “When I had a look at the issues I realised fluoridation is a massive betrayal of the public’s trust and I felt embarrassed I hadn’t got involved before as someone who taught environment chemistry and toxicology.”

Now retired, Professor Connett has written a book, The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics, and is coming to Lismore and Ballina next week to give two public talks.

He said he was stunned by the Australian government’s lack of research into the issue, which based everything on American studies.

“None of your health agencies have set out to examine if there’s any harm in Australian communities drinking fluoridated water – the arrogance of your health agencies is absolutely staggering, it’s all parroting what other people are reviewing,” he said. “When the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council did its review in 2007 it was such a hatchet job. The Medical Research Council in Australia [sic: should be the U.S. National Research Council of the National Academies] had done a report, using 1100 references, 507 pages, which took them three years, and this NHRMC blew it off in one sentence. It said they looked at fluoride at four parts per million and they were only looking at fluoridating at one part per million, so it wasn’t relevant. Of course it’s relevant! They simply did not do just justice to the large amount of data that indicates fluoride can harm the brain.”

Professor Connett claims fluoride is a “gravy train” for dentists who can access endless research grants if they continue to say fluoride is good.

But Professor Connett believes the evidence is simply not there.

“The evidence that fluoride reduces dental caries is very weak indeed… you can find very little difference between fluoridated countries and non-fluoridated countries, and there are now 24 IQ studies that indicate a lowering of IQ in children exposed to moderate fluoride,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned fluoride is something you would not want to get anywhere near living things if you could possibly avoid it, and the notion of giving it to everyone and giving it to babies is crazy in my view.

“It’s politics, politics, politics, not science. And after 14 years of frustration that’s why I wrote this book. Fluoride in North America is crumbling as we speak… last night in Calgary the council voted 10/3 to stop fluoridation and many others are considering it too.”

Professor Connett will give public talks next Tuesday, February 15, at the Lismore Workers Club at 7pm and on Wednesday, February 16, at the Ballina Beach Resort at 7pm. People will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

For info, phone Ilga at the Ballina Fluoridation Free Network on 6686 9263 or 0402 750 398.