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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ch. 3. Opposite Sides of the Atlantic: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org


Ch. 3. Opposite Sides of the Atlantic: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org
Opposite Sides of the Atlantic     Copenhagen: Crucible of Discovery   KAJ ELI ROHOLM had a passion for life and medicine. The son of a Danish  sea captain and an immigrant Polish Jew, Roholm shone briefly as one of  Europe's brightest stars. During the 1920S and 193os, when Copenhagen  glowed as a crucible of scientific discov ery and Nils Bohr and a cadre of  physicist disciples laid the theoretical foundation for nuclear fission, Kaj  Roholm had advanced the healing arts.'   "He was a very vital and lively person," remembered the  ninety-five-year-old Georg Brun, who met Roholm almost a lifetime ago,  when both were young doctors training in a Danish hospital. They had  talked eagerly about politics, history, and medicine.' Although a handful of  specialists around the world today remember Roholm for his "great and  lasting" study of fluoride toxicity, he was also a pio neer in the use of  biopsy samples to study the human liver, an expert in infectious and  occupational diseases, and a tireless advocate for public health.' He was  interested in everything, said Brun.
https://www.blogger.com/null  As Copenhagen s Deputy Health Commissioner in the late 1930s, the  thirty-eight-year-old led his fellow doctors in campaigns against diphtheria  and venereal diseases and in campaigns to improve the health of newborn  children. He harnessed modern media to his public-health agenda,  producing films, radio advertisements, posters, and brochures; and he  arranged for wartime distribution of a hundred thousand copies of his  pamphlet, What     OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC     31     Everyone Wants to Know about Infectious Diseases. When the Nazis  marched into Denmark in April 1940, the doctor remained at his post.  Although Copenhagen won the wartime reputation of a humane  city — where Jews escaped much of the violence occurring in other  occupied European cities — Roholm described occupation conditions  as "awful." 5   A quirk in the Earth s geology drew Roholm to fluoride. Virtually  the entire worlds supply of the fluoride-containing mineral known as  cryolite was found, at the time, in a single deposit beneath the  Danish colony of Greenland. Cryolite is an Eskimo word meaning  ice stone. Trade in the brilliant white rock had grown rapidly in the  early twentieth century, after researchers learned that aluminum  could be made more cheaply by using electricity to melt the ice stone  in a glowing-hot pot, along with refined bauxite ore. A great river  of this aluminum had armed soldiers with munitions and lightweight  equipment during World War I.   As the cryolite ships arrived in Denmark, the ice stones were hauled  to the Oresund Chemical Works in Copenhagen, where a heavy cloud  of cryolite dust filled the factory air and where a medical mystery  preoccupied doctors. Inside the plant the Danish workers were stricken  with multiple ailments, including a bizarre crippling of their skeletons  known as poker back. Professor P. Flemming Moller of the  Rigshospital suspected that fluoride was responsible; cryolite contains  more than 50 percent fluoride. In 1932 Moller labeled the disease  cryolite intoxication and suggested that a young doctoral candidate,  Kaj Roholm, study the newly discovered condition:   Roholm seized the challenge with the passion of youth. He lis-  tened carefully to the complaints of the Copenhagen cryolite work-  ers, examining them with the use of X-rays. He conducted his own  laboratory experiments, feeding fluoride to pigs, rats, and dogs in  order to study its biological effects. A shocking picture emerged of a  chemical with a venomous and hydra-headed capacity for harm.  Silently and insidiously fluoride stole into the workers' blood — from  swallowed dust, Roholm reported, with the poison accumulating in  teeth, bones, and quite possibly the workers kidneys and lungs.'  Eighty-four percent of the workers at the cryolite plant had signs of  osteosclerosis. Their bones sopped up fluoride like sponges,  wreaking havoc on their skeletons, immobilizing spinal columns,  malform-     32     CHAPTER THREE     ing knees and hips, and even thickening some mens skulls. Half the  employees had a lung condition known as pulmonary fibrosis and many  suffered from an emphysema-like affliction." And in a disease process  that resembled the effects of aging, the workers ligaments grew hard and  sprouted bony spines, while their bones became lumpy and irregular in  shape. 1 " Arthritic and rheumatic afflictions have a marked frequency  among the employees, Roholm stated, and serious stomach problems were  commonplace; several cryolite workers also had chronic skin rashes and  pussy sores on their chest and back, especially in the summer.   Fluoride probably poisoned the central nervous system as well. "The  marked frequency of nervous disorders after employment has ceased might  indicate that cryolite has a particularly harmful effect on the central  nervous system, Roholm noted." He called the disease "fluorine  intoxication" and suspected that it was fluorine's ability to poison  enzymes — the chemical messengers that regulate much bodily  activity — that made it a threat on so many biological fronts. We must  assume that the effect of fluorine on protoplasm and on enzymatic  processes is capable of causing profound changes in the metabolism of the  organism, Roholm added.'   The scientist also examined fluoride s effects on teeth. There had been  scientific speculation since the nineteenth century that because ingested  fluoride was deposited in teeth and bone, it was therefore necessary for  healthy teeth. 13 A team at Johns Hopkins University tested that theory in  1925, feeding rats fluoride, but found that it made their teeth weaker. 14  Roholm found the same thing. The workers' teeth he studied were bad, and  the worst teeth had the most fluoride in them. Lactating mothers in the  Copenhagen factory had even poisoned their own children; since fluoride  passed though their breast milk, children who had never been inside the  plant developed mottled teeth — evidence that mother and child had been  exposed to an industrial chemical.'   Roholm's conclusions on fluoride and teeth were blunt. "The once  general assumption that fluorine is necessary to the quality of the enamel  rests upon an insufficient foundation. Our present knowledge most  decidedly indicates that fluorine is not necessary to the quality of that  tissue, but that on the contrary the enamel organ is electively sensitive to  the deleterious effects of fluorine," he wrote     33     (emphasis in original)." His medical recommendation: "Cessation of the  therapeutic use of fluorine compounds for children. ' In other words, more  than sixty years ago the worlds leading fluoride scientist rejected the  notion that fluoride was needed for stronger teeth, agreeing with earlier  studies that found that fluoride weakened the enamel — and explicitly  warning against giving fluoride to children.   Roholm continued his investigation. He traveled to places where he  suspected that similar such fluoride intoxication had occurred, and he read  widely in the great libraries of Berlin and London. A clear picture emerged:  the scientist saw how fluorides chemical potency had long caused  problems in the natural world and that its usefulness to modern industry  was increasingly causing problems in human affairs. 18 In Iceland he saw  grazing sheep that were emaciated and crippled, their teeth weakened, with  a disease called gaddur. Their forage had become contaminated with  fluoride spewed into the biosphere from deep inside the earth during vol-  canic eruptions. The disease especially injured young animals.' In the  United States, such natural fluoride had plagued the westward-sweeping  migrants in Texas, South Dakota, Arizona, and Colorado. These thirsty  pioneers had sunk wells deep into the desert but drew water that was  contaminated with fluoride. The poison produced an ugly tooth deformity  known as Colorado Brown Stain or Texas Teeth. (Today that deformity is  known by the medical term dental fluorosis and is an early indicator of  systemic fluoride poisoning. A more severe form of poisoning, produced  by earth-bound natural fluoride, known as crippling skeletal fluorosis, is  also widespread in much of the Third World, where lack of nutrition often  worsens the fluoride's effects.)   Roholm saw that in the industrial world fluoride had become a bedrock  for key manufacturing processes; 80 percent of the worlds supply of  fluorspar, the most commonly used fluoride mineral, was used in metal  smelting; steel, iron, beryllium, magnesium, lead, alu minum, copper,  gold, silver, and nickel all used it in production' ( The word fluoride comes  from the Latin root fluor meaning "to flux or to flow. Fluoride has the  essential property of reducing the temperature at which molten metal is  fluxed from superheated ore.) Brickworks, glass and enamel makers, and  superphosphate     34     CHAPTER THREE     fertilizer manufacturers each used raw materials that included enormous  volumes of fluoride. And at DuPonts Kinetic Chemicals in New Jersey,  scientists were giving birth to a new global industry of organic or  carbon-based fluoride products, engineering man-made fluoride and  carbon molecules to mass-produce a popular new refrigerant known as  Freon.   Roholm saw that what had long befallen the natural world was now  increasingly happening to human beings, and by their own hand.  Industry s growing appetite for fluoride presented a special threat to  workers and surrounding communities. The Dane studied case after case  in which factory fluoride hurt workers and contaminated surrounding  areas — and where angry lawsuits had been launched for compensation. In  Freiburg, Germany, for example, smelters had been compensating their  neighbors for smoke-damaged vegetation since 1855. In 1907 it was  finally confirmed that fluoride smoke from those smelters had poisoned  nearby cattle." Similar damage to plants and cattle was seen elsewhere in  Europe, near superphosphate fertilizer plants, brickworks, iron foundries,  chemical factories, and copper smelters." But although the damage was  widespread, information about its chemical cause was less available. The  toxicity of fluorine compounds is considerable and little known in  industry, Roholm wrote.   Science was partly to blame, he suggested. The industrial revolution, for  example, had been fueled with coal, which had darkened the skies over  cities such as Pittsburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and London. But air  pollution investigators had focused the blame for subsequent  environmental damage and human injury on sulfur compounds rather than  on the large quantities of fluoride frequently found in coal."   Roholm suggested that even the century s worst industrial air pollution  disaster to date, in Belgium's Meuse Valley — which killed sixty people and  injured several thousand in December 1930 — had been caused by fluoride,  not sulfur. During the Meuse Valley incident thousands of panicked local  citizens had scrambled up hillsides to flee choking gases during three days  of horror. Roholm proposed that fluoride from the nearby factories had  been trapped by a temperature inversion, then dissolved in moisture and  carried by particles of soot deep into the victims lungs." Roholm thought  that disaster     OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC     35     investigators had overlooked both the toxicity and the prevalence of  fluoride pollution from nearby zinc, steel, and phosphate plants. He  calculated that tens of thousands of pounds of the chemical were  spilled each day from the local factories, etching windows, crippling  cattle, damaging vegetation, and making citizen lawsuits in the Meuse  Valley a well known phenomenon. '   Roholm singled out the new global aluminum industry. He studied  a lawsuit against a Swiss manufacturer in which it was alleged that  fluoride fallout during World War I had hurt cattle and vegetation.  Animal injury was again found near an Italian aluminum plant in  1935; the following year scientists found health problems inside a  Norwegian aluminum smelter, where workers suffered sudden gastric  pains and vomiting, bone changes, and symptoms resembling  bronchial asthma.' A special position is occupied by aluminum  works," Roholm wrote, "inasmuch as the damaged vegetation  especially has caused secondary animal diseases. 28 He advocated  government action: Factories giving off gaseous fluorine compounds  should be required to take measures for their effective removal from  chimney smoke. 29   Roholm s monumental 364-page study, Fluorine Intoxication, was  published in 1937 and was quickly translated into English. It  contained references to 893 scientific articles on fluoride. The trust  and cooperation of the Danish cryolite industry was necessary to  make his study. Nevertheless, the book was a warning to corpora-  tions: they must pay attention to their factory conditions and to the  insidious — often misdiagnosed — effects of fluoride on workers.  Roholm had several clear recommendations for employers and  doctors, among them:   • Recognition of chronic fluorine intoxication as an  occupation disease rating for compensation.   • Prohibition against employment of females and young people  on work with fluorine compounds developing dust or vapor.   • Demand that industrial establishments should neutralize  waste products containing fluorine. 30   • A prohibition against the presence of fluorine in patent  medicine may be necessary.'     36     CHAPTER THREE     Pittsburgh 1935   IT WAS A May morning in Pittsburgh, and a watery spring sun struggled  through the smoky haze. Inside his office at the Mellon Institute, the  director, Ray Weidlein, put down his newspaper in satisfaction. Several  dailies had picked up a press release he had recently issued:   New attack on Tooth Decay ... to be carried on at the Mellon Institute  headlined a May 1, 1935, example in the Youngstown (OH) Telegram.  Mellon researchers had "found evidence that the presence of a factor in the  diet at a crucial period of tooth formation leads to the development of teeth  resistant to decay, the newspaper proclaimed. A Mellon scientist, Gerald J.  Cox, was to lead the hunt for the mysterious factor improving teeth, and  Pittsburgh s well-known Buhl Foundation would fund the research on  rodents.'   Since tooth decay was a major problem in the industrialized United  States, the story must have seemed liked good news to most readers, and  especially to dentists. But the headlines were certainly welcome good press  for Ray Weidlein. Several of the big industrial corporations who funded the  Mellon Institute s work had recently been dragged through the pages of the  nation s media with some very unflattering stories — and were increasingly  under attack from Congress and the courts. That spring Time magazine was  one of sev eral papers and magazines that had carried accounts of the  horrific events at Gauley Bridge in West Virginia, where several hundred  mostly black migrant miners had died from silicosis contracted while  drilling a tunnel for the Union Carbide Company during 1931-1932. News  of what would be America's worst industrial disaster to date had filtered  out from Appalachia slowly, but by 1935 the West Virginia deaths had  become a full-blown national scandal. Hundreds of lawsuits had been filed  against Union Carbide and its contractors. Reporters were daily  scrutinizing the often appalling rates of occupational illness in other  industries. And sympathetic citizen juries were regularly awarding millions  of dollars to injured workers, provoking a fullblown financial emergency  for several leading industrial corporations — and panic among their  insurers. In January Congress would hold hearings, and Gauley Bridge  would, for many Americans, come to symbolize a callous disregard by  powerful corporations for workers health.'     OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC     37     Ray Weidlein and the Mellon Institute were in full crisis mode that  spring of 1935, helping Union Carbide and other top corporations  contain public outrage over the workplace carnage — and head off  draconian legislation for better pollution control inside factories. The  corporate strategy was clear: get dominion over basic science, wrestle  control of health information from labor groups, and in turn, reinvest  that medical expertise in the hands of industry-anointed specialists.  These steps were seen as the anti-toxin for the agitation against  private enterprise, according to one of Weidlein s correspondents."  The besieged corporations organized a lobbying group known as the  Air Hygiene Foundation because, as the group noted, "sound laws  must be based on sound facts"; and, perhaps more importantly,  because "half a billion dollars in damage suits have been filed against  employers in occupational  disease claims." 35   Headquartered at the Mellon Institute, in 1937 the Air Hygiene  Foundation had a membership list sporting many of the best-known  names in industry, including Johns-Manville, Westinghouse, Mon  santo, U.S. Steel, Union Carbide, Alcoa, and DuPont. And for the  better part of the next thirty years the organization — later renamed the  Industrial Hygiene Foundation — would profoundly shape the public  debate over air pollution, goading members to voluntarily improve  work conditions inside their factories, thus avoiding legal mandates,  and sponsoring medical research that bolstered industry's medicolegal  position in the courtroom. Such research, much of it done at the  Mellon Institute, was important from both medical and legal  standpoints in the preparation of court cases," Ray Weidlein stated. 36   An example of the Foundation's success in influencing the contest  over air pollution and occupational hazards was the effort to "inves  tigate" asbestos. One of the Foundation's members,  Johns-Manville, was a top asbestos producer. The tiny fibers had been  linked to ill health in workers since 1918. But as late as 1967 Dr. Paul  Gross was using the Industrial Hygiene Foundation's laboratory  to conduct influential medical research, permitting Foundation  members to dispute the claim that asbestos fibers were uniquely  dangerous. His conclusions were erroneous — reportedly  suspected as such even by his fellow Mellon scientists — yet  corporate profits and worker     38     CHAPTER THREE     pain were prolonged for a generation while the Mellon Institute continued  grinding out its industry-backed "research." " We can blame todays flood  of death and disease in asbestos workers — and the $54 billion in court  awards against industry — at least partly on the Air Hygiene Foundation  and the long-ago diligence of the Mellon Institute and its director, Dr. E. R.  Weidlein. 39   If Ray Weidlein smiled over the press release heralding Coxs dental  studies that May morning in 1935, it may have been because no newspaper  had spotted some important connections — between the tooth research at  the Mellon Institute and the corporations funding the Air Hygiene  Foundation lobby group, which was also run, of course, out of the Mellon  Institute. By the early 1930s a tidal wave of new information about the  health risk from low-level fluoride exposure was also filling medical  libraries. Several members of the Air Hygiene Foundation were paying  particularly close attention. As with silicosis and asbestos claims, big  corporations were potentially at risk for massive corporate legal  liability — for the harm caused to workers and communities by industrial  fluoride exposure. 40   One Foundation member had particular reason to worry. Tall and  athletic, the chief scientist for the aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, Francis  Frary, had studied in Berlin, was fluent in several languages, and would  personally translate Kaj Roholms fluoride research. 41 Con ditions inside  Alcoa s smelting plants were brutal, with exposure to chemical agents  (especially fluorides and carcinogens and, to a lesser degree alumina dusts  and asbestos insulating materials)" a frequent hazard for workers,  according to the historian George David Smith. " The effects of fluoride  emissions was a particular concern of Frary's," Smith noted 42 During the  1920s and 1930s, African American workers were imported from the Deep  South for the "killing potroom labor" inside one plant in the company town  of Alcoa, Tennessee. And at the Niagara Falls plant in upstate New York,  where Alcoa's mostly immigrant workers were shipped in by train, a health  study would later confirm that crippled workers were the result of a fluo-  ride dust hazard that had existed at the plant for years. 43   Francis Frary was a member of an elite fraternity of officials running  corporate research labs, a fraternity that would chart the nation's scientific  progress during the period between the two World Wars. Other members of  this close-knit group included Charles Ket-     OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC     39     tering, director of research for General Motors, and the research  directors of U.S. Steel and DuPont." Those people all knew each  other; it was a small, relatively select group who headed research labs,  noted the historian Margaret Graham. 45   Fluoride's threat to corporate America was laid out in an exhaus  tive review of the new medical information about fluoride's harmful  effects, published in 1933 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A  senior toxicologist, Floyd DeEds, warned of the growing risk from  industrial fluoride pollution. "Only recently, that is within the last ten  years," he stated, "has the serious nature of fluorine toxicity been  realized, particularly with regard to chronic intoxication [a medical  term for poisoning]. Like Kaj Roholm, the government scientist  singled out the aluminum  industry. 46   DeEds also noted that in 1931 several researchers had, for the first  time, linked the ugly blotching or mottling seen on teeth in several  areas of the United States to naturally occurring fluoride in water  supplies. 47 This new dental information appears to have rung an  alarm bell for industry. Quietly Alcoa scientists made their own  investigations. It was not just natures fluoride that stained teeth, they  discovered; the company found tooth mottling in children living near  Alcoa s big aluminum plant in Massena, New York. Crucially,  however, Alcoa s chemists reported that there was no naturally  occurring fluoride in the local water. 48 A potential source of the  fluoride staining children's teeth in Massena was obvious: there was  little or no pollution control on many early aluminum plants, and  elsewhere around the country the fluoride waste from these industries  was routinely dumped in  nearby rivers.   Mottled teeth in children had become a potential red flag, warning  citizens and workers of industrial fluoride pollution — and pointing  directly to a man-made hazard the media had not yet dis-covered. 50  With public outrage over Gauley Bridge reaching a crescendo in  1935, several powerful industrial corporations now held their breath,  hoping to avoid a fresh epidemic of worker lawsuits that this time  were for fluoride exposure. The potential for litigation against  industry was mapped for all to see by blotchy marks on Children's  teeth, evidence of "neighborhood fluorisis" in action.'   Alcoa s research director, Francis Frary, took action. In September  1935 he approached Gerald Cox, a Mellon Institute researcher,     40     CHAPTER THREE     at the American Chemical Society's Pittsburgh meeting. Frary now had a  suggestion that would ultimately transform the public perception of  fluoride." Though Frary was preoccupied with the "killing" hazards facing  his Alcoa employees, and the aluminum industry faced lawsuits from  farmers whose cattle had been injured in the vicinity of the smelters, Frary  took it upon himself to make a generous suggestion to the Mellon  researcher. Had Cox ever considered that good teeth might be caused by  fluoride?   Cox understood that Frary was suggesting that he include fluoride in his  tooth-decay study. Although this suggestion flew in the face of the results  from the dental study at Johns Hopkins a decade earlier — which had  showed that fluoride hurt teeth — nevertheless the Alcoa man's proposal  was "the first time I ever gave fluorine a thought," Cox later told historian  Donald McNeil. 53   The great makeover of fluoride's image had begun. By August 1936 the  Mellon researcher had given laboratory rats some fluoride and announced  that the chemical was the mystery "factor" protecting teeth. In 1937 Ray  Weidlein and Cox published details of their fluoride "discovery" in the  scientific press. And the following year Cox declared in the Journal of the  American Medical Association that "the case [for fluoride] should be regarded  as proved.' Virtually overnight, the Mellon Institute rats had put a smiling  face on what had been a scientifically recognized environmental and  workplace poisons'   The Kettering Laboratory   FRANCIS FRARY WAS not the only industry scientist who had grown  interested in children's teeth during those Depression years. In April 1936  his colleague Charles Kettering, vice president and director of research at  General Motors, quietly held a meeting in GM's Detroit offices with a  delegation from the American Dental Association (ADA) and Captain C.  T. Messner of the U.S. Public Health Service." Kettering seemed an  unlikely candidate for an interest in teeth; he had become famous and  wealthy by inventing the electric starter for the automobile. But  Kettering's laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, was also the birthplace of two  industrial chemicals that would haunt the twentieth century. And like  Alcoa's Francis Frary, Kettering was in a unique position to see the health  risk that     OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC     41     fluorides posed to American workers — and the potential liability  facing DuPont and General Motors.'   Fluoride and lead were twin pillars on which the great wealth of  both DuPont and General Motors was built. In 1921 Kettering's sci-  entists had discovered that lead added to gasoline increased engine  efficiency And in 1928 they patented the fluoride-based Freon gas,  which was much less toxic at room temperature than were earlier  refrigerants. But those twin pillars had shaky foundations. Tetra ethyl  lead (TEL) was so toxic that it killed several of DuPont's New Jersey  refinery workers, attracted a rash of ugly newspaper headlines,  and almost resulted in the lucrative product's being banned from the  market." Similarly, Freon sales quickly stalled following pro-tests  from the American Standards Association and the New York City Fire  Department, when it was discovered that when Freon was exposed to  flame, it decomposed into the nightmarish phosgene and hydrogen  fluoride gases.' 9 (Phosgene was the same poison gas that had been  used to monstrous effect in the trenches of World War I.)   GM and DuPont moved quickly to protect their new products. They  hired a young scientist at the University of Cincinnati, Robert Arthur  Kehoe, to perform safety studies on lead at GM's in-house laboratory.  Kehoe's research — which asserted that lead was found naturally in  human blood and that there was a "threshold" level below which no ill  effect would be caused — helped to placate the U.S. Surgeon General  and "single-handedly spared the leaded gasoline industry from federal  regulation in the 1920s," according to the historian Lynne Snyder. 60  "Kehoe's first contract had salvaged a billion dollar industry," wrote  another Kettering scientist, Dr. William Ashe. 61 The  thirty-two-year-old was rewarded in 1925 with an appointment as the  medical director of the Ethyl Corporation, which marketed leaded  gasoline. 62   In 1930 Kehoe rode to the rescue again, performing toxicity stud  ies on Freon. That same year the Ethyl Corporation, DuPont, and the  Frigidaire Division of General Motors founded a laboratory at the  University of Cincinnati with a $130,000 donation. It was named the  Kettering Laboratory of Applied Physiology; a new building was  erected, and Kehoe was installed as director.   The dangers of using a potential poison gas in the home — and the  risk to firefighters in particular — may have seemed obvious,     42     CHAPTER THREE     but Kehoe argued that a blaze would rapidly disperse any poison that might  be created, presenting little risk. Thus even from a fire fighting point of  view . . . the decomposition of [Freon] is not to be regarded as of great  consequence, he stated.' (More than sixty years after his clash with New  York firefighters Kehoe s toxic shadow haunted them in the aftermath of  the World Trade Center terror attack." Following the buildings collapse,  rescue workers feared that two enormous tanks of Freon gas that had once  fed the towers air-conditioning system would rupture and burn in the  still-smoldering rubble, spewing acid and poison over downtown  Manhattan.' Although there have been numerous previous reports of  phosgene poisoning from Freon, mercifully the refrigerant never burned at  Ground Zero.")   Kehoe s assurances helped to win the day. A joint venture between GM  and DuPont, known as Kinetic Chemicals, quickly erected two massive  Freon manufacturing facilities at DuPont s plant in Deep-water, New  Jersey. Although Kettering scientists soon measured high levels of  fluoride in DuPont s New Jersey workers, Freon sales soared from 1.2 to  18.7 million pounds between 1931 and 1943. Freon became the main  refrigerant in homes and industry and grossed an estimated $35 million in  revenue during this period.'   But new experiments soon discovered just how precarious DuPont s  exploitation of fluorides might be. The Kettering Laboratory found that  hydrofluoric acid — the raw material needed to make Freon and the same  gas produced when the refrigerant was burned — was toxic in very low  doses." The scientists did not report a level below which toxic effects were  not seen. The danger to workers who breathed the gas on a daily basis was  clear. The gas was stealthy. Even at a level that could not be detected by  smell, it caused "exceptional" injury, including lung hemorrhage, liver dam  -age, and striking evidences of kidney damage. Animals died when  exposed to a dose of just 15.2 milligrams per cubic meter ( about 19 parts  per million).   That toxicity data was published in September 1935. Six months later  Charles Kettering met with the American Dental Association. The Freon  magnate quickly became a member of the ADAs three-person Advisory  Committee on Research in Dental Caries. That Committee, in turn,  shepherded publication of Dental     Opposite sides of the Atlantic     43     Caries — a compendium of dental research from around the world that  included several references to Gerald Coxs work at the Mellon  Institute as well as that of other fluoride promoters. Neither Charles  Kettering s interests in selling industrial fluorides nor the potential  health risk from fluorides to U.S. workers were ever disclosed to  readers of Dental Caries. Nor were dentists told that the General  Motors vice president might have personally funded a portion of the  ADAs activities." In a letter dated March 16, 1937, the ADAs  chairman, P. C. Lowery, somewhat cryptically promised Kett that he  will "secure sufficient information" so that the General Motors vice  president could, in turn, "furnish the $25,000." In other words, the  millionaire industrialist with one of the greatest personal stakes in the  commercial exploitation of fluorides was quietly donating to the dental  organization that would shortly become one of the most aggressive  boosters of fluoride s use in dentistry. 7 "   A third connection between industry and some of the earliest  attempts to link fluoride with dental health can be found in the actions  of Andrew W. Mellon, who was U.S. Treasury Secretary from 1921 to  1932. The silver-haired smelter and Pittsburgh banker was also a  founder of Alcoa and one of its biggest stockholders. In 1930 he  intervened in efforts to have the Public Health Service support  researchers at the University of Arizona who were then surveying  naturally occurring tooth mottling." (The U.S. Public Health Service  [PHS] was then a division of the Treasury Department.) Mellon s  economic interest was clear. Fluoride s legal threat to industry could  now be seen, literally, in children's smiles. However, linking dental  mottling to naturally occurring fluoride, in areas far from industry,  helped to deflect attention from the bad teeth and the myriad other  health effects caused by industrial fluoride pollution." A young PHS  researcher named H. Trendley Dean was promptly "ordered" to study  fluoride. He soon confirmed that natural fluoride in water supplies  produced dental mottling." But like the industry scientists before him,  Dean also developed "a hunch that fluoride prevented dental  cavities. 74 (Following this hunch, Dean later found that natural fluoride  in the local water supplies apparently correlated with fewer cavities;  these findings, although much criticized for their scientific method,  eventually became a foundation for artificial water fluoridation.)'     44     CHAPTER THREE     Dean departed from Washington in the fall of 193 1 to study fluoride and  tooth decay throughout communities in the South and Midwest. His  departure planted a seed for the governments fluoride policies. Several  years later, another seed would take root. On September 29, 1939, Gerald  Cox, the researcher at the Mellon Institute, made his most radical  suggestion yet at a meeting of the American Water Works Association in  Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His suggestion took place at a historic moment.  The world stood on the precipice of another world war. German tanks had  just entered Poland. Aluminum aircraft and steel armor plate would be  critical in the coming conflict. Pittsburgh's great blast furnaces and alu-  minum pot lines, grown cold during the Depression, were being stoked  anew, throwing a fresh funereal smoke against the autumn sky. Workers  were already flooding war factories, eager for work. Cox proposed that  America should now consider adding fluoride to the public water supply.   Until then, health authorities had sought only to remove fluoride from  water; now, the Mellon man told the Water Works Association, "The  present trend toward complete removal of fluorine from water and food  may need some reversal.'   It would take a global conflagration, a nuclear bomb, and an Olympian  flip-flop by the Public Health Service for water fluori-dation to take  hold — yet Gerald Coxs 1935 rat study and Deans population  investigations would be the germ for a vaccine providing a marvelous new  immunity in the postwar years. Touted as a childhood protection against  dental cavities, water fluoridation would also secretly help to inoculate  American industry against a torrent of fresh lawsuits from workers and  communities poisoned by wartime industrial fluoride emissions.     4     General Groves's Problem   

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