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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ch. 8. Robert Kehoe and the Kettering Laboratory: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org

Ch. 8. Robert Kehoe and the Kettering Laboratory: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org
Robert Kehoe and the  Kettering Laboratory     FROM THE DARKNESS it can be difficult to determine the source of a  shadow. Dr. Robert Arthur Kehoe of the Kettering Laboratory cast such a  shadow over us all, one of the darkest of the modern era.   For more than sixty years Americans breathed hundreds of thousands  of tons of raw poison wafted into the atmosphere from leaded gasoline.  This toxic air contributed to a medical toll of some 5,000 annual deaths  from lead-related heart disease and an almost incalculable toll of tragedy  in the neurological injuries and learning difficulties imposed on children.  One estimate, based on government data, suggests that from 1927 to 1987,  68 million young children in the United States were exposed to toxic  amounts of lead from gasoline, until the additive was finally phased out in  the United States.' https://www.blogger.com/null  For this in good measure we can thank Dr. Kehoe. Dark-haired and  dark-eyed, Kehoe described himself as a "black Irishman" and claimed to  be descended from Spaniards who had been shipwrecked on the Irish  coast during Elizabethan times. The scientist possessed boundless energy,  and a keen mind, and he could also tell "one hell of a dirty joke,"  colleagues
remembered. Others who confronted him professionally,  however, remembered Kehoe as arrogant and aloof. 2   For almost fifty years Kehoe occupied some of the commanding  heights of the nations medical establishment. He was at various points  president of the American Academy of Occupational Medi-     102     CHAPTER EIGHT     cine and president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association; he  served as a consultant to the Public Health Service, the International Labor  Organization, and the Atomic Energy Commission.' Kehoe also exercised a  powerful influence on the publication of medical reports, since he sat on  the editorial boards of leading scientific publications.' He preached the  gospel of leaded gasolines safety from his pulpit at the Kettering  Laboratory for the duration of his entire scientific career.'   Kehoe did much the same for fluoride, with health consequences of a  potentially similar magnitude.   The Fluorine Lawyers and the " Infectious  Idea of Easy Pickings"   SPOOKED CORPORATIONS STAMPEDED Kehoe's laboratory following  World War II. 6 The great factories that had throbbed and roared for the  long years of national emergency had spewed unprecedented volumes of  poisonous gas and smoke into the skies over numerous American cities and  manufacturing areas. There were aluminum plants on the Columbia River  and at Niagara Falls; uranium plants in New Jersey, Cleveland, and  Tennessee; steel mills in Pittsburgh; gasoline refineries in Los Angeles;  and phosphate plants in Florida. These were just some of the industrial  operations that had won the war for the United States, but from which a  steady rain of fluoride and other pollutants now fell, endangering the health  of workers in factories and people living nearby.   Patriotic U.S. citizens tolerated the smoke of war. When peace arrived,  they turned to the courts. Perhaps the first to file suit were the injured peach  farmers from the Garden State, downwind from DuPonts Chamber Works.  They were quickly followed by numerous additional lawsuits alleging  fluoride damage to crops, farm animals, and citizens.'   Soon we had claims and lawsuits around aluminum smelters from  coast to coast," recalled Alcoa's leading fluoride litigator, Frank Seamans.  "Once this sleeping giant was awakened, claims and lawsuits were brought  against all types of plants involving fluoride emissions — steel plants,  fertilizer plants, oil refineries, and the like," he added.'     ROBERT KEHOE AND THE KETTERING LABORATORY 103   To battle this awakened giant, Seamans and attorneys for other  beleaguered corporations organized themselves into a self-described  Fluorine Lawyers Committee, which met regularly through the cold war  years.' The Committee would eventually include attorneys representing  several of Americas top corporations, including Aluminum Company  of Canada, U.S. Steel, Kaiser Aluminum and Steel, Reynolds Metals  Company, Monsanto Chemical, the Tennessee River Valley Authority  ( TV A), Tennessee Corporation and subsidiaries, Victor Chemical, and  Food Machinery and Chemical Corporation. Those corporations,  guided by the needs of the Fluorine Lawyers, and directed by a Medical  Advisory Committee of doctors from the corporations, funded the  fluoride research at the Kettering  Laboratory. 10   The gathering storm clouds were surveyed after the war at a confidential  conference at the Mellon Institute on April 30,1946. Among the guests  filing through the ornately decorated aluminum doorways of the bunkerlike  structure on Pittsburgh's Fifth Avenue were representatives from several of  the companies facing fluoride lawsuits and complaints, including Alcoa,  Pennsylvania Salt, and Harshaw Chemical."   Robert Kehoe dispatched a loyal young Kettering lieutenant to the  conference. Although Edward Largents only degree was a BA obtained in  1935 from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, his willingness to  sacrifice his own body and the bodies of others on behalf of the Kettering  Laboratory's corporate clients, had already propelled him to the front line  of industry's defense against fluoride litigation.' Starting in 1939, the giant  Pennsylvania Salt Company and the Mead Johnson food company paid for  a special experimental diet for the Kettering researcher. Pennsylvania Salt  manufactured numerous fluoride products, including a cryolite pesticide  spray, while Mead Johnson made a children's food, called Pablum,  containing animal bone meal. (Bone meal can contain high amounts of  fluoride.) Largent converted to a human guinea pig for the Kettering  sponsors, eating, drinking, and breathing large quantities of fluoride for  several years." Under the direction of a Kettering toxicologist, Francis  Heyroth, the eager young researcher consumed fluoride in various forms:  as cryolite, calcium fluoride, hydrogen fluoride, sodium fluoride, and  sodium fluoroborate. As     ,04     CHAPTER EIGHT     with similar experiments, in which human volunteers breathed lead fumes  in a Kettering Laboratory gas chamber, the data were subsequently used to  promote industry s position that moderate levels of fluoride — or lead — in  the body were in "equilibrium with the environment and, if kept below  certain thresholds, were both natural and safe. Such a hypothesis was  immensely practical, of course. Following Largents wartime experiments  eating cryolite, for example, the Department of Agriculture raised the  amount of cryolite pesticide residue permitted on agricultural produce, an  obvious windfall for the Pennsylvania Salt Company.'   Now, in April 1946, Largent was one of those sitting in the audience at  the Mellon Institute as the grand old man of prewar fluoride science,  Alcoa's director of research, Francis Frary, took the stage. Frary explained  to the Mellon audience some of industry's worries: how fluoride  accumulated in the human skeleton and how coal had recently been  identified as an "important" new source of airborne fluoride.' Largent was  well aware of the legal risks that fluoride posed to corporations. He had  been battling farmers who had launched court cases against several big  chemical companies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, alleging damage to  crops and herds in a postwar barrage of litigation in the Philadelphia and  Delaware Valley area. Largent described these as almost epidemic." 6   Industry confronted a potentially devastating cold war domino  effect — that Americas industrial workers would follow the farmers into  court. Largent had been monitoring the fluoride exposure inside the  Pennsylvania Salt Company s two big plants in Natrona and Easton,  Pennsylvania. The X-rays showed "bone changes" in workers skeletons  and pointed to a clear and present danger, he stated. "These X-ray data  could easily be misused by dishonest people to conduct a probably  successful attempt to obtain compensation, Largent told a colleague from  the Harshaw Chemical Company in an April 1946 letter that discussed the  importance of the pending Mellon conference. The infectious idea of easy  pickings may spread to include damage claims regarding occupational  injuries," he added.'   The Mellon Institute audience was captivated by the bold new medical  theory of a second speaker. According to the roentgen-ologist (X-ray  expert) Paul G. Bovard, much of the bone damage     ROBERT KEHOE AND THE KETTERING LABORATORY     105     seen on workers X-rays was probably not caused by fluoride, and the  Danish scientist Kaj Roholm had been a needless worrywart.' x Dr. Bovards  fresh perspective was terrific news, Largent reminded the Pennsylvania  Salt Company. Several of [your] employees show bone changes which  might be successfully, even if it were dishonestly, made to appear like  fluorine intoxication. The possibility of a roentgenologist being led by a  dishonest lawyer to make such an error is not too far-fetched; it shows with  great emphasis how fortunate we are to have the help and interest of a man  with Dr. Bovard's capabilities." 19 Bovard's fresh thinking would prove  "invaluable assets to the defense against dishonest claims for  compensation,"  Largent concluded. 20   Largent passed on more good news. Following the Mellon conference,  other U.S. companies had also expressed "intense interest" in the fluoride  problem. Alcoa's Francis Frary had told Largent that the aluminum  company might support an expanded research program at Kettering. Other  companies soon contacted Robert Kehoe directly. The DuPont medical  director, Dr. G. H. Gehrmann, told Kehoe that DuPont, too, might be  interested in joining the fluoride research at Kettering!' Such collaboration  became a reality that summer and fall. On July 26, 1946, industry  representatives met again, this time in the Philadelphia headquarters of the  Pennsylvania Salt Company. And by the end of the year DuPont, Universal  Oil Products, Reynolds Metals, and Alcoa had all agreed to pay for  expanded fluoride studies at Kettering. Of special interest to sponsors: the  willingness of the Kettering team to procure additional humans for  experimentation. "This program should allow for new human subjects and  should materially contribute to this subject," noted Pennsylvania Salts S. C.  Ogburn Jr., in a November 1946 letter to Edward Largent.   More Human Experiments,   and a Suspicious Scientific Study   THE EXPANDED RESEARCH program quickly bore fruit, both in fresh  human experiments and in an influential scientific paper attacking Kaj  Roholm. In January 1947, as industry checks for the fluoride research  started to arrive in the Kettering Laboratory     106     CHAPTER EIGHT     mailroom, Edward Largent looked around for more human subjects. He did  not have to look far. Largent sometimes ate in the Ketter-ing lunchroom  with members of a local African American family, the Blackstones, several  of whom worked for the University of Cincinnati as laboratory assistants  and animal handlers. A group of black boys — a wonderful family, Elmo  and Peanut and Gentry," remembered Edward Largent years later. 22   The Blackstone brothers had helped Dr. Robert Kehoe in his lead  experiments. In 1947 a new item appeared on the Blackstones  menu — extra-dietary fluoride. In May of that year, forty-one-year-old  Elmo Blackstone began eating fluoride and carefully collecting his urine  and excreta. The industrial experiments would continue for three and a half  years, during which time he would consume a startling 12,047 mg of  fluoride in the form of sodium fluoride and sodium fluoroborate,  considerably more fluoride than even Lar-gent had ingested. In one  experiment, begun in June 1948, Elmo was given 84 mg of sodium fluoride  each week in his food for 130 weeks.' There is no surviving record of  whether Elmo Blackstone experienced injury as a result of these  experiments, but the historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner  describe similar Kettering human experiments with lead as particularly  pernicious because their objective was not the discovery of a therapy for  those with lead poisoning but was to gather evidence that could be used by  industry to prove that lead in the blood was normal and not indicative of  poisoning by industry. 25   In 1951 Edward Largent mounted a major assault on the research of Kaj  Roholm, describing health effects of fluoride exposure in American  workers that were much less severe than those reported by the Danish  scientist. 26 His paper laid a medical keystone for Americas cold war  industrial enterprise. 27 The war had hugely increased U.S. industrial  dependence on fluoride, a hunger that grew voraciously as the American  economy began its spectacular cold war expansion, with entire new  enterprises, such as fluorocarbon plastics, aerosols, refrigerants, uranium  enrichment, rocket fuels, and agricultural chemicals, all requiring  that employees breathe and absorb fluoride. 28 By 1975 the government  estimated that 350,000 men and women in 92 different occupations were  exposed to fluoride in the workplace. 29 Yet the consequences of that  chemical exposure     BERT KEHOE AND THE KETTERING LABORATORY     107     would be largely overlooked, in part because of Largents 1951 paper,  published in the influential American Journal of Roentgenology.   Roholm had reported that fluoride produced a host of medical symptoms  in factory workers. Most distinctly, fluoride could visibly disfigure a  worker's bones, disabling them with a painful thickening and fusing of  spinal vertebrae, a condition Roholm called crippling skeletal fluorosis.  Largent now contradicted the Dane, reporting that no disabilities had been  caused by fluoride in the U.S. workers he had studied. Instead, he argued  that fluoride "deposition only highlighted a preexisting condition, making  it more "apparent" to X-rays. "One wonders if Roholm may not have  overemphasized the part that fluorides may play in causing limitation of  mobility of the spine," Largent wrote. Perhaps the crippled spinal columns  of the Danish workers were mostly the result of "hard labor," he  suggested. 30   Largents 1951 paper was influential among those for whom it was  meant to be influential, so that in 1965, for example, the nations leading  fluoride expert, Harold Hodge, could state that crippling fluorosis has  never been seen in the United States. 31 But Largents paper also appears to  have been a grim scientific hoax. At the end of his paper the Kettering  researcher had ostentatiously posed a question: why did fluoride appear to  affect American and European workers differently? "Just why disability  has not been recorded in American workers remains unanswered, Largent  wrote.   The answer is simple. The facts were hidden by a Kettering cover-up  that misled a generation of medical researchers about the consequences of  industrial fluoride exposure and sentenced many thousands of U.S.  workers to undiagnosed fluoride injury. Just three years earlier Kettering's  Robert Kehoe had privately told Alcoa that 120 workers at its Massena  aluminum smelting plant had "bone fluorosis" and that 33 were "severe"  cases that showed evidences of disability ranging in estimated degree up to  loo per-cent. 32 Similarly, while Largent publicly reported no fluoride dis-  ability, privately three doctors had told him that workers' X-rays showed  evidence of fluoride-linked medical injury, according to his personal  correspondence and long-concealed records.   Largents 1951 paper was based on X-rays of workers at the  Pennsylvania Salt Company. Fluoride was burrowing inside the     1 o 8     CHAPTER EIGHT     employees bodies, deforming and crippling their bones, according to a  radiologist, Dr. Thomas Smyth. Ira Templeton, one worker from the  company s plant in Easton, Pennsylvania, showed marked increase in the  density of the pelvis, upper portion of the femur, vertebrae, ribs, clavicle,  scapula and forearm. Dr. Smyth considered these [effects] to be indicative  of marked fluorine intox ication," Largent told management. At another  Pennsylvania Salt plant at Natrona, Pennsylvania, X-ray images of a  worker, Elmer Lammay, revealed that "bone growths on some of the  vertebrae were extensive enough to indicate that some of the bones of the  spine were becoming solidly fused together," Largent reported to  management. 33 A second Natrona worker, Ross Mills, also revealed  a "clear-cut increase in the density of the lower ribs and the lower  thoracic and lumbar spine, typical of fluorine absorption,"  according to radiologist Paul Bovard, who classified Mills a "probable  case of fluorosis." 34   Although the Kettering researchers hid the incriminating X-ray pictures  from the workers, on January 31, 1947, a mix-up occurred and Ira  Templeton's results were sent directly to the Easton plant. " All of the films  show osteosclerosis previously described and considered to be as a result of  fluoride poisoning. . . . Very truly yours, Russell Davey, M.D.," read the  mailed analysis." Pennsylvania Salt's management was furious at the  misdirected letter. Its workforce might learn of the danger from fluoride  exposure, the company worried. "You can appreciate the seriousness of  this situation to us," wrote a senior official, S. C. Ogburn Jr., to Dr. Robert  Kehoe, Largent's boss at the Kettering Laboratory. "Doubtless, this letter  has been widely discussed at our Plant and is evidence of extremely poor  tact, to say the least, on the part of Drs. Pillmore and Davey,"  Ogburn added. 36   Kehoe asked the offending radiologist, Dr. Davey, to send future X-rays  directly to the Kettering Laboratory and thereby "absolve the management  of the Easton plant of any responsibility." He added, "We wish to avoid any  situations that would result in undue suspicions or anxiety on the part of  any of these men." And Kehoe swiftly reassured Pennsylvania Salts  management that any apprehension or concern by workers about their  health was the result of a semantic misunderstanding. In Europe the terms  "fluorine     gOBERT KEHOE AND THE KETTERING LABORATORY     109     poisoning and fluorine intoxication might suggest disability and even  worker compensation. In the United States, however, Edward Largent and  the radiologist Dr. Paul Bovard were using these terms differently, infusing  medical language with new meaning, Kehoe insisted. Poisoning was  merely an unfortunate choice of verbal expression," he added. 37   Dr. Kehoe and Edward Largent now delivered their sponsors some good  news. Dr. Bovard had reversed the earlier diagnoses of fluoride poisoning  by Drs. Smyth and Davey. He now claimed that, "with the exception of  spinous ligament changes seen in films of Ira Templeton, the bone  changes were so commonly seen in laborers as to have no necessary or  likely relation to fluorine deposition. Pennsylvania Salt should therefore  "differentiate between the terms, fluorine intoxication, which carries with  it the implication of illness and disability, or impending disability, and  "fluorine deposition, which signifies demonstrable change but without  implying, necessarily, that illness or disease has occurred or is  imminent, suggested Largent. 38   The Kettering researchers published verdict of no disability was  manifestly suspicious. All three radiologists had diagnosed some degree of  fluoride-induced spinal thickening, ligament changes, or fluorosis in the  Pennsylvania Salt workers. A careful reader of Largent's published paper  might also note an important distinction between the way Largent had  arrived at his medical conclusions and how Kaj Roholm had investigated  the same problem. The Dane had listened closely to the health complaints  of the Copenhagen employees. He had concluded that fluoride poisoning  was insidious and hydra-headed and that several groups of  symptoms — including stomach, bone, lung, skin, and nervous  problems — often presented themselves at different times in different  people, making fluoride injury both serious and sometimes difficult to  diagnose. 39 Largent's 1951 published finding of "no disability" in the  Pennsylvania Salt workers, however, was made without ever talking to the  employees themselves. Nor had the Kettering team performed any medical  examinations beyond studying bone X-rays in a distant office. Detailed  clinical examination of the workmen in these plants could not be carried  out and therefore no other data are available for consideration, Largent  wrote."     110     CHAPTER EIGHT     Sins of the Father   EDWARD LA RGENTS WILLINGNESS tO perform human experiments was  remarkable. In the haste of World War II, he had helped the Manhattan  Project fix fluoride inhalation safety standards at 6 parts per million for  U.S. war workers who breathed in fluoride in factories." Following the war  Largent even turned to his own family to obtain additional scientific data. 42   He couldnt get experimental subjects, explained his son Edward  Largent Jr., who today is a classical composer and professor emeritus at  the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University in Ohio. A lot  of people were just antifluoride for whatever reasons, he added.   His son, then a high school student, was selected by his father because  he "was available and he was willing," his father told the medical writer  Joel Griffiths. "Willing human subjects are not that easy to find," he  explained. Largent told his son that he needed more data for whatever  research he was doing, Largent, Jr. remembered. "It was really sort of a  cursory knowledge. I wouldn't have understood a lot of what he was talking  about because I was only a sophomore in high school.   The Manhattan Project's Rochester division had already reported  earlier experiments with hydrogen fluoride gas on dogs. At  concentrations of approximately 8.8 parts per million of hydrogen fluoride,  the lungs of one out of five dogs hemorrhaged. 43 Largent, Sr., had read the  study but appeared skeptical about the results. " When I read it I wasn't  impressed with what it meant in terms of potential human exposure, he  told Griffiths. There was no review commit-tee for the Kettering inhalation  experiment and no formal consent forms. "I was the review committee," he  said. He did not anticipate health problems in the experimental subjects.  "As far as we were concerned, there were no such risks," he added.   In order to perform these new experiments, Largent had to have a gas  chamber built. The process was a challenge. HF gas is corrosive, and the  acid attacked the metal cylinders and valves. " It was found to be very  difficult to maintain a specific concentration of HF in air inside the  inhalation chamber, he reported.   Once the gas chamber was built, Largent reserved the greatest amount  of fluoride for one of the Kettering laboratory s African     ROBERT KEHOE AND THE KETTERING LABORATORY 111   American laboratory assistants, forty-six-year-old male Gentry Blackstone.  For fifty days in the early spring of 1953 Blackstone sat in the Kettering gas  chamber six hours a day, breathing an average dose of 4.2 parts per million  of hydrogen fluoride acid. But Largent did not experiment on Gentry  Blackstone alone. Largent also exposed his own wife, Kathleen, to a lower  dose of 2.7 parts per million. And although Gentry Blackstone received the  largest amount of fluoride over the longest period of time, the single  highest exposure values were given to Largent's son. On June 22, 1953,  Edward Largent Jr., aged seventeen, entered a Kettering gas chamber for  the first time. Cold cosmetic cream was applied to his face. The experiment  would continue for twenty-eight days, six hours at a time, with weekends  off.   "I had to sit in this cage," the son remembered. A small fan was placed  in front of the boy to improve the gas circulation. Outside, his father  operated the controls and watched. The walls of the chamber were made  from transparent plastic sheeting. The gas whispered in. At first, it caught  the teenagers lungs and burned his nostrils, he said. His skin reddened and  flaked. He read fiction to relieve the tedium, eyes stinging and smarting.  The average dose for the six weeks that Edward Largent Jr. sat in the  chamber was 6.7 parts per million — almost two and a half times what his  mother received. For one remarkable week in early July 1953, however,  with a break for Independence Day, the scientist gassed his son with doses  of hydrogen fluoride that averaged 9.1 parts per million and climbed as  high as 1 1 .9, almost four times the maximum allowable concentration then  set by federal authorities and twice what the father had tolerated himself.  The son's urine levels spiked at 40 parts of fluoride per million. The highest  doses given to his son were accidental, the father said in retrospect; "It was  our inability to keep it from going higher than we wanted it to."   Largent's experiments rang alarm bells for industry. At a 1953  Symposium on Fluorides at the Kettering Laboratory, he described his  inhalation studies and spelled out the potential dangers they had revealed.."  The gathered officials — including the head of the Fluorine Lawyers  Committee, Alcoa s Frank Seamans — knew that American workers were  regularly exposed to 3 parts per million of fluoride in their factories and  workplaces. They also knew that when fluoride urine levels rose above 8  milligrams per liter, there was real danger     1 12     CHAPTER EIGHT     that fluoride was building up in the skeleton and might soon become visible  to X-rays. Largent delivered the bad news. Fluoride levels in his  experimental subjects had spiked sharply immediately after their gas  chamber exposures, even at lower acceptable exposure levels. Urinary  concentrations averaged about io mg. per liter, he told the industry men,  "although the atmospheric concentrations of HF were near to 3 ppm, which  is generally accepted as satisfactory for prolonged occupational exposure.  95 In public Largent continued to maintain that fluoride was safe in low  doses. 96 Privately he told the industry representatives at the 1953  Symposium, One wonders (whether) . . . prolonged exposure to HF at such  a level may not give rise to medico-legal controversies.""   Despite his private warnings to industry, Largent s experiments on his  family and on the Blackstones are now considered a scientific foundation  for today's official safety standard for the tens of thousands of workers who  each day breathe the gas in their factories. The other source for safety  assurances? Experiments done in  1909 on rats. 98   Even though the family experiments seem shocking, Edward Largent Jr.  refuses to judge his father for placing him in a hydrogen fluoride gas  chamber. Although the music professor has experienced knee problems in  recent years, he blames a youthful passion for soccer; he doubts that it had  anything to do with his summer spent breathing fluoride in the basement of  the Kettering Laboratory, where he remembers only moderate discomfort.  Mostly, he told me, "It stank and it was very boring. Be careful about  criticizing," he warned, referring to the 19505 experiments. "Those were  different times. The criteria and the sensitivities to such things were very  different." He added, "It is like trying to judge a Beethoven symphony  today. You have to look at the circumstances, the instruments he was  writing for, the audience situations."   After the experiments Edward Largent Jr., abruptly changed his career  plans. He had passed his entrance exams for medical school at Ohio State,  but suddenly plumped for music. Science no longer seemed so appealing.  "I just decided I didn't want to do that, he said.   His father would be haunted in later life by his own service as a human  laboratory animal. Painful osteofluorosis led to a knee     ROBERT KEHOE AND THE KETTERING LABORATORY 113     replacement and a reliance on medication for relief, the former Kettering  researcher told medical writer Joel Griffiths in a taped interview in the  mid-1990s. Both knees were hurting, Largent explained, because of the  deposition of fluoride. Ironically, he seemed to have wound up suffering  from the very type of skeletal disability his industry-funded scientific  studies said did not exist. (In a second interview, however, Largent  reversed himself and denied to Griffiths that he had ever suffered  osteofluorosis.) 49   Edward Largent Sr. died in December 1998, five days after an operation  for a broken hip, suffered after a nighttime fall: gripped by Alzheimer's  dementia, Largent had forgotten to use his walker to get to the bathroom.  At the end of his life, his son recalled, Edward Largent "was angry and  frustrated and very frightened because he knew there was something that  wasn't right and that he couldn't fig ure out how to deal with it. The son  wondered whether his father's bone pain in later life was because of his  fluoride experiments. Edward Largent Jr.'s mother also suffered from ill  health in her final years. Kathleen Largent had a leaking heart valve and a  nerve disorder known as myasthenia gravis. (Arthritis, increased risk of hip  fracture, Alzheimer's, and other central-nervous-system disorders have all  been linked by scientists to fluoride exposure.) 50   In recent years Edward Largent Jr. has spent hours reading about the  Manhattan Project, wondering if his father was involved. An elder brother  said their father had worked at Oak Ridge. And as a boy, Edward Largent  Jr. remembers his father arriving from Tennessee at their Cincinnati home  on a Friday night during the 1940s, driving a black car with government  plates. "The car would go in the garage and I would say "Let's go for a  ride,' and Dad would say No, no we can't use that car.' And then he would  leave Sunday after-noon in the government car." 

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