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Sunday, June 18, 2017

14. Fluorine Lawyers and Government Dentists: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org

14. Fluorine Lawyers and Government Dentists: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org
Fluorine Lawyers and  Government Dentists     "A Very Worthwhile Contribution"     Although big corporations have long used the U.S. government's  medical assurances about fluoride safety to defend themselves in  fluoride-pollution cases, no collaboration between industry and the  federal promotion of fluoride has ever been acknowledged. However,  Robert Kehoe s papers show precisely such collusion, detailing how the  fluoride research of the National Institute of Dental Research, ostensibly  conducted to prove water fluoridation "safe," was covertly performed in  concert with industry, which was aware that the medical data would help  their Fluorine Lawyers battle American pollution victims and workers in  court.   THE REYNOLDS METALS Company employed a legal strategy  during the Martin case that would become a staple in American  courtrooms. Five years had elapsed since the Federal Security Agency  administrator, Oscar Ewing, the former Alcoa lawyer, had endorsed
https://www.blogger.com/null public water fluoridation on behalf of the Public Health Service, which  was under the FSA's jurisdiction. During the 1955 Martin trial in Portland,  Reynolds reminded the court of fluoride's "beneficial" effects.  Fluoride was being added to toothpaste, and 15,000,000 Americans  now consumed more fluoride through their drinking water than the  Martins had been exposed to, Reynolds's attorneys said. "This court has  thus found to be "poisonous' an amount of fluorine     FLUORINE LAWYERS AND GOVERNMENT DENTISTS     177     which scientific and judicial opinion has unanimously found harmless,  Reynolds s lawyers argued. The only thing not explained is how the  Martins could have suffered injury from something harmless to the rest of  mankind," they added)   Robert Kehoe also understood how public water fluoridation helped  industry. His endorsement was featured in the profluorida-tion booklet,  Our Children's Teeth. That booklet was simultaneously distributed to New  York parents and to the judges on the Martin Appeals Court.' "The question  of the public safety of fluoridation is non-existent from the viewpoint of  medical science," he assured parents and judges alike.'   Privately, however, Kehoe was not so sure. "It is possible that cer tain  insidious and now unknown effects are induced by the absorption of  fluorides in comparatively small amounts over long periods of time," he  had told industry in 1956. 4 And in 1962 Kehoe told Reynolds s medical  director, James McMillan, that there remained "a basic question  concerning the non-specific effects of prolonged exposure to apparently  harmless quantities of fluoride ( this by the way is the thing on which  George Waldbott bases his entire campaign against fluoridation). 5   Kehoe and his Kettering Laboratory continued to soldier for water  fluoridation during the 1950s and 1960s, assailing fluorida-tion critics as  windbags and windmills. Kettering toxicologists Francis Heyroth and  Edward Largent were prominent members of National Academy of  Sciences panels that endorsed fluoridation. And in 1963 the Kettering  Laboratory published an influential bibliography of the medical literature  favoring fluoridation, entitled The Role of Fluoride in Public Health: The  Soundness of Fluoridation in Communal Water Supplies.   Kehoe saw how fluoride safety studies performed by government dental  researchers helped his industry patrons in court. Farmers and workers  would have a much harder time successfully suing corporations for  fluoride pollution if the U.S. Public Health Service had performed its own  studies and then vouched for the chemical's safety. "The results of such  [dental] investigations are highly advanta geous," Kehoe explained to the  corporations sponsoring his fluoride work at Kettering, in that the  problem [of proving fluoride safe] exists outside of industry,  thereby involving situations in which the     178     CHAPTER FOURTEEN     economic factors tend to be of different type and significance than those  which are often alleged to be active in the industrial world, and often  involving investigators who are not subject to accusations of bias based on  industrial associations.'   Kehoe approached the Public Health Service in April 1952 on behalf of  the industries sponsoring his fluoride research, to ask that the health agency  perform additional fluoride safety studies.' I was requested by the group  [of industries], for whom I have acted as a spokesperson and chairman, in  the consideration of this work, to approach your division of the U.S. Public  Health Service, with the idea of determining whether or not an investigation  of that type might not be conduced by the Service, Kehoe wrote to Dr.  Seward Miller.'   Government proved cooperative. The top medical investigator at the  National Institute of Dental Research, Dr. Nicholas Leone, was especially  helpful. In August 1955, for example, during the Martin trial, the public  servant Dr. Leone spoke with a senior attorney for Reynolds, Tobin  Lennon, who also was a member of the Fluorine Lawyers Committee,  directing Lennon to a federal safety study on fluoride that Leone had  recently concluded in Texas.   No record could be found of anyone from this U.S. government agency  ever helping the Martin family.   Leone s study had examined people living in two Texas towns, where  there were different amounts of natural fluoride in the water supply. The  town of Bartlett had between 6 and 8 parts per million in its water, while  nearby Cameron had 0.4 ppm. Dr. Leone had given both towns a clean bill  of health, reporting in 1953 that no harmful significant differences were  seen in the two populations. Although George Waldbott and others had  vigorously attacked the study's scientific method and conclusions, the  so-called Bartlett Cameron Study became, along with Harold Hodges  Newburgh study, a lynch-pin of the government's case for water  fluoridation — medical "proof" that adding fluoride to water would be  harmless.'   As the Martin trial hung in the balance, the governments Dr. Leone  burned up the long-distance telephone lines to Oregon, answering  questions from Reynolds's attorney Lennon on the findings of the Bartlett  Cameron study. Dr. Capps had testified on Paul Martins behalf that  fluoride had injured his clients liver, so Reynolds s lawyer wanted  information about fluorides effects on such soft tissues."     FLUORINE LAWYERS AND GOVERNMENT DENTISTS     179     Although the Bartlett Cameron study had not examined soft tissue, such  data would soon be at hand, Leone reassured industry. New  government-funded studies were in the pipeline. And they spelled good  news for the Fluorine Lawyers. In the spring of 1957, as corporate America  awaited the Martin Appeals Court verdict, Alcoa s Dr. Dudley Irwin  traveled from Pittsburgh to the sparkling new campus of the National  Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to meet directly with Dr. Leone  and discuss the current status of the fluoride problem." Irwin was the  medical coordinator for the Fluorine Lawyers Committee.   Dr. Leone laid out the plans for the new fluoride safety studies that the  federal dental agency was then readying. The two men then discussed how  those studies could be presented to best suit our purpose," according to a  March 5, 1957, letter Leone sent to Irwin to thank him for his visit. In  particular Leone gave the Alcoa doctor details of a human autopsy study  then being conducted in Provo, Utah, in which soft tissues were being  analyzed. Leone was serving as a consultant to the Utah study, he wrote,  and he had personally designed the autopsy protocol.' The interests of the  Provo group, Leone explained in his letter, relate directly to atmospheric  pollution of fluorides and its effects on humans. As you know, it has been  proven beyond a question of a doubt that similar conditions have an effect  upon animals.   Irwin paid close attention. Provo was the site of perhaps the most serious  litigation problem then facing the Fluorine Lawyers. Since World War II,  when a mighty steel plant had been located in the Utah County valley, near  the city of Provo — far from any threat from Japa nese bombers — local  farmers had been in an uproar over pollution that they claimed had  decimated their cattle. By 1957 the Columbia-Geneva Division of U.S.  Steel had settled 880 damage claims totaling $4,450,234 with farmers in  Utah County. An additional 305 claims for a further $25,000,000 were  filed against the company. 13   Nicholas Leone s researchers, working on a PHS grant, were studying  the soft tissues and bones of Utah County residents, he told Irwin. Inmates  of a mental institution close by comprise the study material," he added.   The Bethesda meeting between Alcoa s fluoride doctor and the  government scientist went well. They made plans for a future     180     CHAPTER FOURTEEN     rendezvous. In view of the vast amount of material soon to be avail -able  for publication, Leone concluded in his letter to Irwin, we are all very  enthused about a group presentation at some carefully selected meeting in  the near future. I believe we discussed that briefly while you were here and  I hope that you have had opportunity to give further thought to the type of  meeting that would best suit our purpose. A one-shot presentation and  publication in a single issue or monograph should be of more value than  publication in a number of publications.... Again, it was a pleasure seeing  you and I hope we have the opportunity for further discussions in the near  future. Best personal regards. Sincerely Nicholas C. Leone, M.D. Chief,  Medical Investigations, National Institute of Dental Research.' The  government scientist enclosed a gift, a copy of a science-fiction novel  called The Pallid Giant by Pierrepont B. Noyes.   Alcoa s doctor was jubilant at the letter. The government studies would  show no harm from fluoride, he had learned (almost certainly from Leone  himself). Irwin immediately contacted the Fluorine Lawyers Committee  boss, Frank Seamans in Pittsburgh, forwarding to him a copy of the letter  he had received from the NIDRs Dr. Leone. Thrilled at the news from  Washington, Alcoa s top doctor explained to Seamans, in a letter dated  March 13, 1957, exactly how the nations water fluoridation program, and  accompanying health studies, might help American industry: These  clinical investigations pertain to basic studies of individuals residing in  areas where the fluoride content of the drinking water varies from 0.04 ppm  F. to 8.o ppm F. You will appreciate that this range of fluoride exposure  brackets the range in which a number of us are interested. I have reason to  believe the results of these investigations will show no evidence of  deleterious effects due to fluoride absorption. The publication of these  results will be a very worthwhile contribution,"  wrote Irwin. 15   The obliging government dental researcher, Dr. Leone, wanted to share  the good news — with a restricted group of industry friends, Dr. Irwin told  Alcoa s lawyer. Dr. Leone has given me his permission to supply copies of  this letter to you for distribution to your group of "fluorine lawyers' on a  confidential basis," he wrote Seamans.   Any jubilation in the ranks of the Fluorine Lawyers Committee,  however, quickly turned to fresh panic. The following month, on     FLUORINE LAWYERS AND GOVERNMENT DENTISTS 181   April 24, 1957, Judges Denman, Pope, and Chambers of the Federal  Appeals Court for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld the lower  District court ruling in the Martin trial. Their verdict was that Reynolds  Metals was guilty of negligence and of poisoning the Martins with fluoride.  In a gesture even more frightening for industry, Judge Denman cited a legal  principle known as absolute liability. It meant that industry was  responsible for resulting injury, whether accidentally caused or not. "The  manufacturer must learn of dangers that lurk in his processes and his  products, wrote Judge Denman in his opinion upholding the District Court.  It was the duty of the one in the position of the defendant to know of the  dangers incident to the aluminum reduction process," the opinion added. 16   Frantic, industry scrambled back to the courts. The entire 9th Circuit  Appeals court en banc (all judges on the Appeals bench, not just a  three-person panel) now confronted a stunning spectacle, as six top U.S.  corporations paraded before them, pleading for relief. Alcoa, Monsanto,  Kaiser Aluminum, Harvey Aluminum, the Olin Mathieson Chemical  Corporation, and a division of the Food Machinery and Chemical  Corporation, each joined Reynolds in attacking the Martin verdict, filing an  impassioned amicus curiae friends of the court brief.   One hundred thousand workers were employed in the U.S. aluminum  industry alone, industry told the court, while seven aluminum smelters in  the Northwest were located in inhabited areas similar to the Troutdale plant.  Judge Denman s ruling had impossibly tightened the screws on the  economy and jeopardized the nations cold war military strength, the  corporations argued. The necessity of a strong aluminum industry to  national defense is known to all," their appeal noted. Judge Denman had  reached out and with one swift stroke branded the aluminum industry and  all industries involving the use of fluorides, ultrahazardous," it added. The  industry attorneys warned of "the tremendous impact of this decision," and  argued that "if Judge Denman's opinion placing absolute liability on these  industries is to stand, the financial handicap so imposed may well impair  their financial stability. '   As industry s lawyers scrambled back to the courts, the governments Dr.  Nicholas Leone (from the National Institutes of Health) hurried for an  emergency meeting with industry officials     182     CHAPTER FOURTEEN     at the Kettering Laboratory. He was accompanied by no less than the  Director of the National Institute of Dental Research, Dr. Francis Arnold.   On May 20, 1957-a month after the Martin verdict — the public servants  met for a relatively confidential discussion of the issues with Dr. Kehoe  and a Medical Advisory Committee of officials from the industrial  corporations sponsoring the Kettering Laboratory s fluoride research. (This  Medical Advisory Committee had been established on behalf of the  Fluorine Lawyers Committee by Alcoa attorney Frank Seamans.)"   Alcoa's Dudley Irwin opened the meeting. He began by reiterating news  of the Martin verdict. The U.S. dental investigators and the company  officials reviewed the "weakness" of industry's position, according to notes  taken by Dr. Kehoe. The group then discussed "the Martin case in relation  to the community problems of air pollution, water pollution and food  contamination and the position occupied by industry in creating a new  environment characterized by potential hazard to the public health,  according to Kehoe.   Industry was vulnerable, Kehoe emphasized to the dental researchers.  He summarized the Kettering investigation of the Alcoa plant at Massena,  New York, where fluoride had disabled workers. (The results of this study  had — and still have — never been published.) There was a need, Kehoe told  the NIDR's Nicholas Leone and Francis Arnold, "for research of a basic  type to establish the facts on which medical opinion can be based so that  irresponsible medical testimony will be discouraged."   The government men took their cue. Drs. Leone and Arnold again laid  out for industry the several pending studies the NIDR was con -ducting.  The science was ostensibly being performed to demonstrate to the  public the safety of water fluoridation, yet for the anxious men at the  Kettering Laboratory that spring day, there was a clear understanding that  such medical studies could help polluters. 19 The conference concluded with  plans for an ambitious strategy to shape the national scientific debate on  fluoride by hosting "conferences, symposia," compiling new medical  research "for dissemination or publication," and arranging working  sessions "to decide what to do and in what sequence," according to Kehoe'  s notes.     FLUORINE LAWYERS AND GOVERNMENT DENTISTS     183     On June 5, 1958, the full Appeals Court in the Martin case gave some  ground. It upheld the verdict that the Martins had been poisoned and that  Reynolds was negligent, but it withdrew the earlier opinion that the legal  theory of absolute liability applied. The final decision was still   distressing, the Fluorine Lawyers Committee head, Frank Seamans,  wrote to Kehoe in a melancholy note eight days later. In an enclosed legal  summary of the ruling, dated June 12, 1958, he concluded that the verdict   will doubtless have great significance in the further development of the  fluorine problem." 20 There was, however, a solitary ray of sunshine:  perhaps the rollback of the absolute liability verdict would help industry  in the coming decades. We can now argue that the Martin case went off  on its own particular facts and that it is not a ruling that an aluminum  smelter is liable for damage regardless of negligence,"  Seamans wrote. 21   Seamans believed that it was the visit and testimony of the English  expert, Donald Hunter, that had delivered the knockout blow. The English  doctor had left a perhaps disfiguring scar upon corporate America. "The  court quoted from the testimony of Dr. Hunter," Seamans wrote to Kehoe,  "and said that his testimony was worthy of credit and, in fact, outstanding.  These quotations from the testimony of Dr. Hunter about the effects of  fluorine on human beings are very unfortunate and may serve to give such  claims a push.   Kehoe was bitter about the whole affair. "I have rarely found myself in  a more embarrassing situation than I was in the Martin case," he told one of  Reynolds's other witnesses. And he complained to a friend, Philip Drinker  of Harvard s School of Public Health, about the cleverness and histrionic  character of Donald Hunters testimony. 22 The professor commiserated.  Hunters exhibition was cheap cockney showmanship at a pretty low  point, Drinker said. " Numerous friends in England have told me he was  for sale and he certainly sold himself for this," he added.   Dr. Kehoe would have his revenge. In the days after the Martin verdict  worried industry its officials turned again to his Kettering Laboratory for  help. Industry stood on a precipice. The danger was clear — and so was the  solution. A powerful new scientific orthodoxy must be forged to defeat  workers and farmers like Paul Martin and remove the threat from  independently minded medical experts such as Donald Hunter and  Richard Capps.     Buried Science, Buried Workers     THE IMPLICATIONS OF the Martin verdict were frightening. Like that  Oregon farming family who had been poisoned by Reyn-olds s fluoride,  tens of thousands of U.S. citizens breathed fluoride fumes from nearby  steel, aluminum, and coal-fired power plants. A million more would soon  live within eight kilometers of eleven hydrogen fluoride manufacturing  plants.' And hundreds of thousands of American men and women inhaled  fluoride dust and gases each day at work.'   Industry's response to the Martin verdict was explained by Robert  Kehoe to the medical director of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TV A) in  January 1956. You will remember our recent talk about the concern of  representatives of the aluminum and steel companies, over the outcome of  the Reynolds Metals suit, Kehoe wrote to Dr. O. M. Derryberry on  January 9, 1956. That concern included "perturbation of certain of the  sponsors over the medico-legal situation," he wrote. "A group was  assembled for a meeting with me early in December," Kehoe told  Derryberry, "out of which came their request that ... I advise them  concerning a program of investigation which might be enlarged in scope  and accelerated in tempo so as to provide them with adequate ammunition  for handling similar situations, as well as those that might arise from  apprehension among their employees. " ; Kehoe's goal was to "bring to an  end the litigation which threatens to occupy the time, attention, and  economy of industry without benefit to the health and welfare of their  employees or the public," he told his sponsors.'     BURIED SCIENCE, BURIED WORKERS   

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