CANTON – He has spent 14 years fighting fluoride, but Paul H. Connett thinks next year might be his break-through year.
The professor emeritus of chemistry at St. Lawrence University recently published a book, “The Case against Fluoride,” and has spent most of this fall traveling around the globe promoting it.
Mr. Connett has espoused the opinion for years that fluoride exposure causes long-term health risks, including bone and thyroid issues. His ideas are counter to the recommendations of the American Dental Association; in his book, which is co-authored by James Back and H. Spedding Micklem, he argues that those endorsements do not necessarily make something safe, according to the book’s publishers, Chelsea Green Publishing.
“There are two reasons we wrote this book; one is to get a handbook for communities, to assure them that they’re on the right track in debating this. Second, for scientists, if we could get any with open minds, to assure them that this is well documented,” Mr. Connett said. “What I think we can expect is a year from now, the proponents with all their experts and all their white coats will come back with a book saying why this is a good thing.”
The release of such a book, according to the retired professor, will allow them to force a debate and bring the issue to the forefront. He will spend at least the first part of next year traveling around the U.S., Europe and Australia, giving lectures and presentations about the risks associated with fluoride.
The problem, as he said he very well knows, is that most people are not interested.
“It’s just incredibly difficult to get people to listen; you start to talk about it and their eyes roll,” he said. “I think most people walk around thinking that fluoride is good and it’s good for teeth and the only people saying it’s bad for you are crazies.”
Mr. Connett, who lives in the village, spent more than two years arguing with local government officials in Canton about removing fluoride from the drinking water here. He won in 2003, but has had no such luck in other north country towns. Across the state, about 13 towns and two counties have gotten rid of the fluoride in their water.
However, shortly after he appeared there on his book tour, the town of Waterloo, Ontario voted to removed the fluoride in their water.
“It was a close vote,” he said. “I won’t say I was the cause of that vote, but I certainly contributed to it.”
Mr. Connett is the head of the Fluoride Action Network, which aims to raise awareness about the risks associated with the chemical. The organization’s website has a petition against fluoride which more than 3,000 people have signed, a 30-minute video of prominent scientists talking about the risks and a lengthy bibliography of other sources to find more information.
Promoters of fluoride, such as the ADA and Center for Disease Control, agree with Mr. Connett that the substance is dangerous to children under one year old and that baby formula should not be made with fluoridated water. They also agree that there is no reason to ingest fluoride; any benefits from the chemical only come through a topical application.
“One of our concerns is, at the local level and the state legislative level, to put things on the water bill to say ‘Your water is fluoridated and you should not make baby formula with this water,'” he said. “It’s something that’s not controversial on the intellectual side. On the practical side, it’s something (the ADA and CDC) are shy of saying because parents will begin to ask if it’s safe for older children.”