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Fluoride is a poison. Fluoride was poison yesterday. Fluoride is poison today. Fluoride will be poison tomorrow. When in doubt, get it out.


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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ch. 1. Through the Looking Glass: The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org


Ch. 1. Through the Looking Glass: The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org
CHAPTER ONE   

     It used cameras to record changes in the pattern of behavior of laboratory  animals that had been given tiny amounts of toxic chemicals. Computers  then rapidly analyzed the data. By detecting how the animals behavior  differed from that of similar control animals — that were not given the  toxic agent — scientists were able to measure or quantify the extent to  which a chemical affected the animals central nervous system.   Previous such efforts had relied on subjective guesswork as to the  severity of the chemical s toxic effect or on laborious and time-consuming  efforts to quantify the changes the chemical made in behavior. The speed  of the computers and the accuracy of the camera measurements in the  Mullenix system, however, could potentially revolutionize the study of  toxic chemicals.   As her car flew along the Charles River that summer morning in 1982,  Mullenix knew that her new job and the support of the prestigious Forsyth  Dental Center would finally allow her to complete the work
on her new  system. https://www.blogger.com/null  Mullenix had caught the eye of Forsyth s director, John Jack Hein,  some years earlier. He had attended one of her seminars at the Harvard  Medical School, where she was a faculty member in the Department of  Psychiatry. He had sat in the audience, dazzled, his mind racing. Hein  remembers a very bright woman describing a revolutionary new  technology, which he believed had the potential for transforming the  science of neurotoxicology. She had the world by the tail, said Hein.  There is nothing more exciting than a new methodology. '   Jack Hein wanted Mullenix to bring her new technology to For-syth and  to set up a modern toxicology laboratory. It would be the first such dental  toxicology center in the country. Many powerful chemicals are routinely  employed in a dentists office, such as mercury, high-tensile plastics,  anesthetics, and filling amalgams. Hein knew that an investigation of the  toxicity of some of these materials was overdue.   The Forsyth director's boyish enthusiasm helped to sell Mul-lenix on the  move. I was very impressed with Dr. Hein, she said. He was like a kid in  a candy store. He couldnt wait for us to use the new methodology and  apply it to some of the materials dentists work with.     THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS     3     Phyllis Mullenixs transfer to Forsyth was a move to one of Bos-  tons most prestigious medical centers. The Forsyth Dental  Infirmary for Children was established in 1910 to provide free  dental care to Bostons poor children. By 1982, when Dr. Mullenix  accepted Jack Heins invitation, the renamed Forsyth Dental Center  was affiliated with Harvard Medical School and had become one of  the best-known centers for dental research in the world.   At the helm was Forsyth s director, Jack Hein, a well-known figure  in American dental research. Hein had attended the University of  Rochester in the 1950s, and there he had helped to develop the fluoride  compound sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP). Colgate soon added  MFP to its toothpaste, and Jack Hein became the company's dental  director in 1995. When he came to Forsyth in 1962, Hein was part of  the new order in reshaping American dentistry — a changing of the  guard then taking place in many dental schools and research centers.'  Like Jack Hein, the new generation of leaders was uniform in its  support of fluorides use in dentistry.'   Forsyth had read the tea leaves well. While a previous Forsyth  director, Veikko O. Hurme, had been an outspoken opponent of  adding fluoride to public water supplies, Jack Heins support came  at the same time that Colgate poured cash into new facilities and  fluoride research at Forsyth.' Additional funds came from research  grants from other private corporations and from the federal National  Institutes of Health (NIH). A sparkling new research annex, built in  1970, doubled the size of the Forsyth Center, with funds from the  NIH and major donors, such as Warner Lambert, Colgate  Palmolive, and Lever Brothers.'   Jack Hein s track record as a fund-raiser for the Forsyth Center  and his support for fluoride's use in dentistry owed much to his  membership in an informal old boy's club of scientists who had also  once done research at the University of Rochester. The University  had been a leading center for fluoride research in the 1950s and 1960s,  with many of its graduate students taking leading roles in dental  schools and research centers around the United States.   In 1983, a year after Phyllis Mullenix arrived at Forsyth, director  Hein introduced her to an elderly gentleman who had been Hein's  professor and scientist mentor some thirty years earlier at the Uni v  ersity of Rochester. The old man was a researcher with a distin-     4     CHAPTER ONE     guished national reputation — the first president of the Society of  Toxicology, Mullenix learned, and the author of scores of academic papers  and books. His name was Harold Carpenter Hodge, and his impeccable  manners and formal dress left an indelible impression on Mullenix.   I was impressed with Harold, she said. He was very gentlemanly. He  would never say an inappropriate word, and he always wore a white lab  coat.   Hodge had recently retired from the University of San Francisco. Jack  Hein had brought him to Forsyth for the prestige he would bring to  Mullenix s new toxicology department, he said, and out of admiration for  his former professor, who was then in his mid-seventies. "I thought it  would be fun," Hein added.   Mullenix grew fond of Hodge. He seemed almost grandfatherly,  ambling into her laboratory, chatting as her young children frolicked  alongside. Hodge was especially fascinated by the new computer system  for testing chemical toxicity. He would fire endless questions at Mullenix  and her colleague, Bill Kernan from Iowa State University, Mullenix  remembered. He would quietly come up to my lab. And Harold would ask  Why are you doing this? and What are you doing? and Bill [Kernan]  would take great pains to explain every little scientific detail, showing him  the rat pictures.   By the early 1980s Jack Heins vision for the Forsyth Center included  more than just dentistry. The canny fund-raiser believed that the new  Mullenix technology could become another big money spinner for  Forsyth — a winning weapon in the high-stakes field of toxic tort litigation,  in which workers and communities allege they have been poisoned by  chemicals. "It was an exciting new way of studying neurotoxicity, said  Jack Hein, who would eventually assign Mullenix to spacious new offices  and laboratories on the fourth floor of the Forsyth research annex.   Neurotoxicology was still a young science. If someone claimed to have  been hurt by a chemical in the workplace or had been exposed in a  pollution incident, finding the scientific truth was extraordinarily difficult.  Big courtroom awards against industry often hinged on the subjective  opinion of a paid expert witness and the unpredictable emotions of a jury,  said Mullenix. Industries did not like that. They felt that the answers were  biased, and so the thought of     THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS     5     taking investigator bias out of the system was very exciting to them.  They thought this would help [industry] in court, she added.   The Computer Pattern Recognition System quickly attracted  attention from other scientists, industry, and the media. The Wall  Street Journal called the Mullenix technology precise and "objec-  tive. Some of Americas biggest corporations opened their wallets.  The medical director of the American Petroleum Institute personally  gave $70,000 to Mullenix. Monsanto gave $25,000. Amoco and  Mobil chipped in thousands more, while Digital Equipment Cor-  poration donated most of the powerful computer equipment.   Several oil and chemical companies such as Monsanto Co. are  supporting research on the system, the Wall Street Journal reported.  " Questions are being raised more frequently about whether there are  behavioral effects attributable to chemicals, a Monsanto  toxi-cologist, George Levinskas, told the newspaper. The Forsyth  system has potential to give a better idea of the effects our  chemicals might have," he added.'   In a letter of recommendation, Myron A. Mehlman, the former  head of toxicology for the Mobil Oil Corporation, who was then  working for the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease  Registry (ATSDR), called the Mullenix technology a milestone for  testing low levels of exposure of chemicals for neurotoxicity for the  21st Century.... The benefits of Professor Mullenix discovery to  Forsyth are enormous and immeasurable. 9   Industry trusted Phyllis Mullenix. Since the 1970s the toxicologist  had earned large fees consulting on pollution issues and the legal  requirements of the Clean Air Act. Hired by the American Petroleum  Institute, for example, she'd acted as scientific coordinator for that  lobby group, advising it on proposed and restrictive new EPA  standards for ozone. "Whenever it got technical they would dance me  out, she said. Every time EPA came out with another criteria  document I would look for the errors."   Mullenix is not apologetic for waltzing with industry. Anybody  could take her to the ball, she said, explaining, "I did not look at myself  as a public health individual. I was amazed that the EPA did such  shoddy work writing a criteria document. I thought that at the very  least those documents should be factual.   At Harvard, Mullenix had been criticized by some academics     6     CHAPTER ONE     for her industry connections, a charge she calls ridiculous. Said Mullenix,  No one group, be it government, academia or industry, can be right one  hundred percent of the time. I dont see science as aligning yourself with  one group. Industry can be right in one respect and they can be very wrong  in another.   And Mullenix had other consulting work — for companies such as Exxon,  Mobil, 3M, and Boise Cascade. Companies including DuPont, Procter and  Gamble, NutraSweet, Chevron, Colgate-Palmolive, and Eastman Kodak  all wrote checks supporting a 1987 conference she held titled "Screening  Programs for Behavioral Toxicity."   Like many revolutionary ideas, the concept behind the Mul-lenix  technology for studying central-nervous-system problems was simple. The  spark of inspiration had come from Dr. Mullenix s graduate advisor at the  University of Kansas Medical Center, Dr. Stata Norton. A slender and  soft-spoken woman, Dr. Norton was one of the first prominent female  toxicologists in the United States. She had won national recognition by  demonstrating that there were "threshold" levels for the toxic effects of  alcohol and low-level radia tion on the fetus. Now retired to her summer  cottage, surrounded by lush Kansas farmland, Dr. Norton's face opened in a  smile as she remembered her former student. Normally, she said, graduate  students rotated through the various laboratories at the Medical Center. But  there was something different about Phyllis Mullenix.   "Phyllis came into my lab to do a short study — and she never left, "  Norton recalled, laughing.   Mullenix had a special willingness to grapple with complex new  information, Norton said. When Norton was studying the effects of  radiation on rats, Mullenix wanted to learn how the radiation had  physically altered the rats' brains. She had never done that work before,  Norton recalled, but her student stayed late at the lab, poring over medical  journals, dissecting the rat's brains, and looking for tiny changes caused by  the radiation. "I don't think she thought it was difficult, said Norton. She  was happy to jump on the project and get with it."   There was something else. Norton noticed her student had a fear -less  quality and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. The professor  found it refreshing. "It takes a certain personality to stand up and do  something different. Science is full of that, all the way from     THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS     7     Galileo, Norton said. That doesn t mean you are right or you are  wrong, but I can appreciate that in Phyllis because I am like that."   In the mid-1970s Stata Norton was a pioneer in the new field of  behavioral toxicology, inventing new ways for measuring the ways  chemicals affected behavior. At first Norton studied mice that had  been trained or conditioned to behave in certain ways by receiving  food rewards. Some scientists believed that by studying disruptions  in this "conditioned" behavior, they could most accurately measure  the toxic effects of different chemicals.   Norton was not so sure. One day, working with mice that had  been trained to press a lever for food at precisely timed intervals,  she suddenly wondered how the animals knew when to press the  lever. "I looked in the box," she said. Inside she saw that each  mouse seemed to measure the time between feeding by employing a  sequence or pattern of simple activities such as sitting, scratching,  or sniffing. "There was a rhythm," she explained. "They timed it by  doing things."   Norton began her own experiments. She wondered if, by study-  ing changes in this rhythm of "patterned" behavior during the time  between feeding — as opposed to studying disruptions in the condi-  tioned behavior exhibited for food rewards — she could get a more  sensitive measurement of the toxicity of chemicals. Norton and  Mullenix took thousands of photographs of rats that had been given  a chemical poison and compared them with similar photographs of  healthy "control" rats. They were able to detect changes in the  sequences of the rats' behavior, even at very low levels of chemical  poisoning. "We were all very excited," said Norton.   The spirit of independence and free inquiry in Stata Norton's  laboratory inspired Phyllis Mullenix. It was the kind of environ-  ment she had grown up in. Her mother, Olive Mullenix, was a  Missouri schoolteacher who'd ridden sixteen miles on horseback to  her one-room schoolhouse each day and made her "own" money  selling fireworks from a roadside stand. Her father, "Shockey"  Mullenix (he had a shock of white hair), had left the farm with a  dream to become a doctor. He settled for the workaholic life of a  gas-station entrepreneur and trader in the small town of Kirksville,  Missouri and the hope that his three children would realize his  dreams. The son became a nuclear physicist for the Department of  Energy; another     8     CHAPTER ONE     daughter was a corporate Washington lawyer; and the youngest, Phyllis,  the Harvard toxicologist.   In the late 1970s the Environmental Protection Agency grew interested  in the Kansas research. The federal agency wanted a new way of measuring  the human effects of low-level chemical contamination. The head of the  EPAs neurotoxicology division, Lawrence Reiter, visited Stata Norton s  laboratory. Phyllis Mullenix told him that the key to the success of the new  technique was to speed up the time-consuming process of analyzing each  frame of film. Mullenix thought that computers could do the job faster. The  EPA agreed, and Mullenix became a consultant on a $4 million  government grant awarded to Iowa State computer experts Bill Kernan and  Dave Hopper. Kernan had worked previously for the Defense Department,  writing some of its most elegant and sophisticated software.   I was to train the physicist, said Mullenix. The physicist would train  the computer.   Developing the Computer Pattern Recognition System, as Mulle-nix s  technology became known, took almost thirty years. Dr. Norton had begun  studying her rats in the 1960s. When she passed the baton to Phyllis  Mullenix in the 1970s, computers were barely powerful enough to handle  the vast data-processing requirements for detecting subtle behavior  changes and measuring chemical poisoning.   In Boston in the mid-1980s Mullenix grew incredibly busy. She now  had two young daughters. She was consulting for industry. Her husband,  Rick, was completing training as an air-traffic controller. And her father  was seriously ill with emphysema 1500 miles away in Kirksville, Missouri.   Her Forsyth laboratory buzzed with activity. The new computers were  hooked up by telephone to big data-processing units at Iowa State. By late  1987 the Computer Pattern Recognition System was almost ready. Forsyth  printed brochures, touting a system that promised to "prevent needless  exposure of the general public to the dangers of neurotoxicity, and industry  to exaggerated litigation claims." Mullenix soon became a national  pitchwoman for Forsyth, proclaiming a new day for corporations that  feared lawsuits from workers and communities for chemical exposures. "I  was hopped all over the country giving seminars on how this  computerization was going to help the industrial situation, she said.     THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS     9     Director Jack Hein was anxious to illustrate the sensitivity of the  new machine. He suggested that Mullenix start with fluoride, giving  small doses to rats and testing them in the equipment. The longtime  fluoride supporter wanted to test fluoride first, he said, in order to  bolster the chemicals public image. I was really interested in proving  there were no negative effects," Hein said. "It seemed like a good way  of negating the antifluoridationist arguments."   Mullenix shrugged. She didn't much care about fluoride.  Secretly she thought that fluoride was a waste of her time and that  Jack Hein was overreacting. "At Harvard the rule is publish or  perish. And I didn't think that I would come up with anything that  would be worth publishing," she said. "I'm used to studying  hard-core neu-rotoxic substances, drugs like anticonvulsants,  radiation, where it can totally distort the brain. I never heard  anything about fluoride, except TV commercials that it is good for  your teeth."   Hein introduced her to another young dental researcher, Pamela  DenBesten, who had recently arrived at Forsyth. DenBesten was  studying the white and yellow blotches, or mottling, on tooth enamel  caused by fluoride known as dental fluorosis. Although Mullenix was  lukewarm to the idea of using fluoride to test for central-ner-  vous-system effects, DenBesten was more curious. She had noticed  that when she gave fluoride to rats for her tooth-enamel studies, they  did not behave "normally." While it was usually easy to pick up  laboratory rats, the animals that had been fed fluoride would "  practically jump out of the cage," DenBesten said.   The two women worked well together. Phyllis would often  bring her two young daughters to work, and the Mullenix  laboratory on the fourth floor became a sanctuary from the  predominantly male atmosphere at Forsyth. DenBesten knew that  Phyllis Mullenix had few friends at Forsyth. Many of the other  researchers were hostile to the plainspoken toxicologist.  DenBesten describes it as "gender-discrimination type stuff." 10   Another Forsyth scientist, Dr. Karen Snapp, quickly made  friends with Phyllis Mullenix. "I was always told that Phyllis was  the batty woman up in the tower on the fourth floor, said Snapp.  I ran into her at lunch one day in the cafeteria. We started chatting,  then we went out and had a coke together. Snapp found Mullenix  refreshing, both for the quality of her science and her plainspoken     10     CHAPTER ONE     manner. She didnt bow down to the powers that be at Forsyth. A lot of  people put up fronts and are very pious, and Phyllis was not that way at  all — that is what I liked about her. She was very honest, very  straightforward, you knew exactly where you stood, Snapp explained.   Snapp was also impressed with the rigor Mullenix brought to her  scientific experiments. She was very, very thorough. She at times had no  idea what the outcome of an experiment was going to be. If she did an  experiment and didn't get the result she thought she should get, she'd repeat  it to make sure it was right, and [if the unexpected data held up] it s like,  well — we change the hypothesis.   If Phyllis Mullenix was at first nonchalant about testing fluoride for  central-nervous-system effects, that was not the attitude of perhaps the  oldest boy at the Forsyth Center. She found that Dr. Harold Hodge, the  affable old man in the freshly pressed lab coat, took what then seemed an  almost obsessive interest in her fluoride work, firing endless questions  about her methodology.   He wanted to push me to do certain fluoride studies, and do this and do  that, and how can I help? said Mullenix.     2     Fireworks at Forsyth     The two white-coated scientists stared at each other, startled. High above  Boston, surrounded by computer terminals and data printouts and the  bright lights of a modern toxicology laboratory, Phyllis Mullenix and  Pamela DenBesten fell suddenly silent. Only the white rats in their cages  scuttered and sniffed. The information slowly sank in. The scientists had  repeated their experiment and, once again, the results were the same. They  laughed, nervously.   "Oh shit," Dr. Phyllis Mullenix finally blurted out. "We are going to  piss off every dentist in the country."   BY 1989 th Mullenix team was getting its first results from the fluoride  experiments. They had been gathering data for two years, giving the rats  moderate amounts of fluoride, monitoring them in their cages, and then  analyzing the data in the RAPID computer system, as her new technology  was known. But something was wrong. The results seemed strange.   "Data was coming back that made me shake my head," said Mul-lenix.  It wasnt at all what we expected. Mullenix had expected that giving  fluoride in drinking water would show no effect on the rats' behavior and  central nervous system. Mullenix wondered if the problem was a bug in the  new machinery. The team launched an exhaustive series of control  experiments, which showed that the RAPID computers were working fine.  All the results were "amazingly consistent," said Mullenix.   Fluoride added to their drinking water produced a variety of effects in  the Forsyth rats. Pregnant rats gave birth to hyperactive 

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