Well, today's Clipper (Tues., Sept. 28) got the pro-fluoride treatment big-time -- the big headline and the big letter to the editor from the dentist. I didn't see a single thing giving equal space to the other side of the question.
First of all, Dr. Brough, this issue has nothing to do with whether or not you are tired of it. I am tired of other kinds of issues that keep being pressed by people with whom I do not agree, but that does not mean that any of those issues are going away.
And yes, I put one of those signs up in my yard, and I have twice had it removed by vandals. And no, I do not appreciate being called a "loud fanatical minority." Ever since fluoridation began, I have been quietly buying water (which I never thought I would ever do in a hundred years!), and have not said a word about it to anyone but my family.
Since I am not a scientist or a dentist, I will not argue science with you. I will, however, state a few things which I do know in my "uneducated" state.
First: Science and medicine in particular are not now and never have been infallible. Yesterday's scientific certainty has often become today's laughing stock, or worse, tomorrow's tragedy (witness the thalidomide babies).
Second: Adding things to the public water system sets a dangerous precedent. You may scoff, but stranger things have happened. Suppose the doctors become convinced that most people don't get enough vitamin E in their diets. (It does occur naturally, of course, just as fluoride does, so it must be OK to add it.) Many females are dangerously low in iron, particularly during puberty and the child-bearing years, so maybe we should make sure they get it by adding it to the water. Many elderly people are short on various vitamins and minerals, such as lycopene -- let's add it to the water also. Lest you cry that this is foolishness to add something that one part of the population allegedly needs, let me point out that this is exactly what fluoride enthusiasts are doing. Even if I give you the fact (which I am not sure of) that some children need extra fluoride, there are many people who do not need it, and some people actually suffer from having too much of it. Fluoridosis is not a figment of imagination.
Third (and one of the most important points, in my view): Fluoridation takes away another of our rights of choice. If I do not want to drink fluoridated water for any reason, sane or insane, I have no choice but to buy my water. You intimate that fluoride tablets are often not taken for one reason or another, one of which may be that people cannot afford the pills. What about people who cannot afford to buy water? The money spent on fluoridation would be better spent to help purchase them for those who cannot afford them. Then you will say that many people forget to take them, or just neglect the issue. Well, since when does anyone ever go into the homes of our citizens and insist that they take all the things that are "good" for them? And that is essentially what fluoridation does.
Fourth: You cannot control the dosage because the amount of water people drink every day varies. If you give a child enough to be helpful, then what prevents him from doubling or tripling the amount on hot days? This is very unscientific meddling. And if you question the danger of too much fluoride, let me quote from the back of my toothpaste tube: "Keep out of reach of children...If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately."
Example: When my children were small, we went to one dentist who told our children to just "swallow it down" when they were through with their fluoride treatments. I had children throwing up all the way home.
Example: My neighbor tells me that she began getting unaccountable stomachaches after she began drinking fluoridated tap water. These stomachaches ceased as soon as she began to drink purified water. You will call it a fluke. I say she shouldn't have to drink it if she doesn't want to.
Now we'll just end on a bit of a scientific note, since that is how you like it. This is a quote from Albert Schatz, Ph.D., a world-renowned biochemist: "I am opposed to fluoridation because of the overwhelming evidence that fluoridation is not only potentially harmful but has already caused considerable, well-documented harm."
Now if you want to drink this industrial waste that has been scraped out of factory chimneys, then I suggest you buy your own and drink all you want! Leave the rest of us alone.
Edith & Dan Baker, Bountiful
Editor's note: This letter makes some very thoughtful points. Fluoride is not, however, scraped from chimneys, as we carefully researched in articles published several years ago.