Whatever the other effects of water fluoridation, it seems that merely aligning oneself politically with the stuff can bring on a serious case of lockjaw. Just look at Salt Lake County health authorities, who refused last week to address West Jordan’s concerns about the process. Davis County authorities have been just as mum recently, except to say that they don’t want to dignify the “scare tactics” of opponents. Some of what opponents are saying is scary all right, but what is most frightening is that the people to whom Utahns have entrusted their health are unwilling or unable to use science to defend their fluoridation plans.
The Salt Lake County Health Department’s latest cop-out is that the voters have already settled the fluoride question, but it also refused to engage the opposition before the 2000 election. When Paul Connett — an internationally known, Cambridge-educated Ph.D. chemist — was flown to Salt Lake City two years ago to publicly discuss the scientific community’s concerns about fluoridation, Utah health officials declined to show up.
Here are just a few of the many questions Dr. Connett might have asked, and which The Tribune is hoping someone at the health departments will find time to answer:
* How do you reconcile your characterization of opponents as ignorant fear-mongers with the fact that 13 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, including the 2000 laureate in medicine, have warned that fluoridation’s risks outweigh any purported gains? Most have agreed with countless Ph.D. chemists that even 1 part per million of fluoride is too close to the toxic dose to be safely ingested.
* How does one regulate a young child’s fluoride dose — which the Centers for Disease Control advises to be strictly controlled — once it’s in the water supply? Aren’t some kids thirstier than others?
* Babies in fluoridated areas get an average of 1.5 milligrams of fluoride per day in their water-based formula, while the CDC advises no more than 0.7 milligrams. Any comment?
* Fluorosilicic acid, a waste product from the smokestacks of phosphate fertilizer manufacturers, is being used to fluoridate Davis County water. Can you identify three government toxicological studies on its safety? How about one?
* Can you point to even one environmental study that predicts the effects of dumping millions of pounds of fluorosilicic acid into a closed water system such as the Great Basin?
* If debate should halt because the political scientists who run U.S. groups like the American Dental Association support fluoridation, shouldn’t the fact that they are almost alone in the world revive it? Is it not at least worth mentioning that nearly all of Europe abandoned the practice 20 years ago, and that Belgium just announced a ban on fluoride tablets, too? A Belgian Health Ministry study links fluoride ingestion to osteoporosis and damage to the nervous system, and it will advise the rest of Europe to “follow us swiftly” and ban tablets.
* Finally, since a landmark CDC report last year confirmed that fluoride’s only significant benefits come from direct contact with the teeth, and there has never been a benefit to swallowing it — only risks — how can you justify spending millions of dollars to put it in the water?
The Tribune and concerned water drinkers of Davis and Salt Lake counties eagerly await your response.