Fluoride is hurting us, investigator says
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Special to The Plain Dealer
In "The Fluoride Deception," free- lance investigative reporter Christo pher Bryson attempts to prove that fluoride added to community water supplies and products such as toothpaste harms teeth and other portions of the body in many, perhaps most, consumers.
Fluoride-related chemicals occurring in nature have crippled and killed factory and laboratory workers, Bryson writes, including those helping produce nuclear weapons during World War II.
Cleveland workers have been among those endangered, Bryson writes. He devotes several sections of his book to practices at the Harshaw Chemical Co., an industrial complex along the Cuyahoga River where employees added extra fluoride molecules to enrich uranium needed for nuclear weapons manufacture throughout the 1940s. The most-exposed Harshaw laborers were black, Bryson's sources say, suggesting Harshaw managers knew of the dangers and valued those lives least of all.
Bryson makes his case with compellingly written text and more than 100 pages of endnotes, including citations to scientific studies, archival correspondence and testimony from researchers around the world who dissent from the conventional wisdom.
No single piece of evidence is persuasive. In a court of law, circumstantial evidence is as good as direct evidence if enough exists. The circumstantial evidence gathered by Bryson is so vast, and so impressive-sounding, that lots of readers are quite likely to ask their dentists about whether they should continue using toothpaste with fluoride.
Yet lots of those same readers will wonder, in the face of Bryson's evidence, how the American Dental Association can state with such certainty that fluoridated water and toothpaste promote healthy teeth. How can government agencies state there is no cause for concern? How can private corporations expose employees to the substance during a variety of manufacturing routines if crippling disease or premature death might result?
Given the documented lies by prominent scientists, government agencies and for-profit corporations when it comes to dangers of other substances - asbestos, nicotine and a variety of pesticides - readers have no reason to automatically credit groups like the American Dental Association and disbelieve the dissenters.
Bryson features numerous dissenters, explaining not only the science behind their arguments but also exploring psychological motivations. He opens the book with Phyllis Mullenix, a Harvard University toxicologist who originally supported fluoride as a healthful supplement but came to oppose its untrammeled use after conducting objective scientific tests that yielded surprising results she felt ethically bound to consider. Like so many dissenters, Mullenix paid by losing research funds and employment opportunities.
Mullenix and her compatriots, whether ultimately correct or incorrect, deserve praise for following their consciences at great personal cost. Bryson deserves praise, too, for pulling together so much evidence so readers can make better-informed decisions.
Weinberg is a critic in Columbia, Mo.
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