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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ch. 13. Showdown in the West Martin vs. Reynolds Metals: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org

Ch. 13. Showdown in the West Martin vs. Reynolds Metals: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org 

Showdown in the West   Martin vs. Reynolds Metals     PAUL MARTIN SHUDDERED. Amomentearlierhehadreached out to  examine one of his Hereford cattle, and the animals elegant curving horn  had broken off in his hand. Startled, the rancher looked more closely. The  once strong animal had grown skinny and was limping; its coat was  matted and its teeth badly mottled. Martin had recently posted a reward in  the local newspapers after several of his cattle had gone missing. Then,  when he had found his first dead cow, he speculated that someone was  shooting and rustling his herd.   Martin looked up to the horizon, past the wild flowering blackberry  bushes that garlanded his property. His cattle had continued to die. And  now his family was sick. His young daughter, Paula,
complained of  soreness when she walked. Her ankles clicked, she said. All three of the  family had pains in their bones, serious digestive problems, bleeding gums,  a fearful anxiety that kept them awake at night, and a strange asthmalike  exhaustion.https://www.blogger.com/null   The tall rancher realized that the problem was not rustlers. Martin had  been in perfect health in December 1946 when he moved into his beautiful  new home on the Troutdale ranch. It was a spectacular property, 1500  acres of rich pasture nestled beneath the mighty Columbia River George,  through which the greatest of the western rivers departed the Rocky  Mountains. Looking back, however, Martin realized that his health had  begun to falter in the months     SHOWDOWN IN THE WEST     169     after the move to Troutdale. As he walked home to the farmhouse for  a lunch of farm-grown fresh vegetables, he slowly nodded. He stared  through a farmhouse window, lost in thought.  The window had become badly etched.   In the distance, bordering his property, lay the giant Reynolds  Metals aluminum plant. At night, as Martin lay awake, the factory was  bathed in electric light, pouring black smoke into the starry Oregon  sky. Paul Martin now believed that poison from the Reynolds factory  was, somehow, killing his cattle, scarring his property, and poisoning  his family.   Paul and Verla Martin's lawsuit against Reynolds Metals in August and  September 1955 in Portland, Oregon, was one of the most exhilarating and  significant courtroom clashes in modern American history. It was a  David-and-Goliath battle: a solitary American farmer standing his ground  against the combined legal and financial might of several of the nation s  top industrial corporations. The drama in Judge East's district courtroom  was captivating. For three weeks a jury listened as several of the world's  top scientists, who had come from London, Chicago, and Cincinnati,  slugged it out with conflicting medical testimonies, defending themselves  against raking volleys of legal cross examinations. A surprise witness  materialized, a top scientist perjured himself, and a pair of  Harvard-trained medical experts gave devastating explanations of the  health problems the Martin family had endured on their Troutdale Ranch.   "This court makes history," stated the leading medical witness for  the Martins, Dr. Donald Hunter.   This is a case of great national importance, proclaimed the Reynolds  Metals attorney Frederic A. Yerke Jr., adding that it was "the first case in  the history of the country in which an aluminum company has been alleged  to have caused injuries to a human being through the emission of fluorine  compounds from its plant.'   The Martin case stunned corporate America. Until then, no U. S. court  had ever ruled that industrial fluoride emissions had caused harm to  humans. Such a precedent would open the door to future lawsuits and even  jeopardize the nation's war-making ability, industry claimed. Reynolds  Metals was joined in court by six aluminum and chemical companies,  including Monsanto and     170     CHAPTER THIRTEEN     Alcoa, which filed a "friends of the court brief during the appeals process,  pleading that a victory for Martin would drive a stake through the heart of  the modern industrial economy by rendering it unprofitable to conduct  such enterprises near places of human habitation. ' Their expert medical  witness was none other than Dr. Robert Kehoe, Director of the Kettering  Laboratory. He arrived in Portland early and would spend two weeks at the  trial, coaching the company lawyers.   Martins attorneys played their cards masterfully. They flew in England s  top medical specialist in industrial diseases, Dr. Donald Hunter, to be their  expert witness, thus catching Reynolds off guard. Hunters expert  credentials matched anything the industry men could offer. The senior  physician of the London Hospital, Hunter had written a book on industrial  poisons, studied fluoride pollution at an aluminum plant in Scotland, and  researched the toxic effects of lead at Harvard Medical School.'   When Dr. Hunter rose to testify in late August 1955, he explained to  Judge Easts court that he had flown directly from Africa to London and  then to Portland for the trial. Hunters testimony marked the end of an even  longer journey for the rancher, Paul Martin. His family s mysterious  sickness had taken them to some sixteen doctors across the United  States — in Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and New York — where they  were confronted with baffled medical professionals in a seemingly endless  search to find out what was hurting them. Finally Hunter and a leading  Chicago specialist, Dr. Richard Capps, had recognized that the Martins  symptoms were classic symptoms of what Hunter now described to the  jury as " subacute" fluorosis.'   Hunter was a member of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians in  England. The Portland jurors probably smiled as he explained to Judge  East that the Royal College had been created by King Henry VIII in the  year of 1518. 1 think that is 330 years before the state of Oregon began . . .  in this office one has to wear a gown which was devised by Henry VIII. '   Hunter told the jury that fluoride had killed Martins cows and injured  the family Fluorine compounds are deadly poisons to mammalian tissues,  and man is a mammal just as much as a cow or a sheep, he explained.'  Fluoride was so dangerous, Hunter explained,     SHOWDOWN IN THE WEST     171     because it was an enzyme poison." He described research done by  English poison gas specialists that had illustrated how fluorine could  disrupt cell biology. So lethal were certain fluoride compounds, Dr.  Hunter added, that Hitler had used them in World War II to poison  generals he wanted to get rid of: He simply had a banquet, and he  ordered men to take the paper off the champagne cork, and he injected  fluorides [into the champagne] . '   This was too much for the Reynolds lawyer, Frederic Yerke, who  interrupted Hunters testimony: Object to this, your Honor. I move to  strike this as not being competent, relevant or material.   Judge East agreed that it was "a bit dramatic" and urged the Eng  lish doctor to move on. But Hunter was serious. He told the jury that  the Martin family had been poisoned by a chemical so aggressive that  it attacked the biological fabric of life itself. Enzymes are the  chemical substances which help the body to work, Hunter explained.  For example, if we go to lunch and we eat a steak, we have in the  stomach pepsin, which is an enzyme. It digests the steak, and therefore  we are properly nourished . . . modern chemistry shows that enzymes  also exist in individual cells, and as everybody knows the human body  is made up of masses of cells: cells of the liver, cells of the kidney,  cells of the muscles. By hunting enzymes, fluorine compounds were  the natural enemies of humanity, the doctor explained: The enzymes  in the cells help the cell to nourish itself and to keep ticking over,  which is the process of life. Now, fluorine compounds are such deadly  poisons that they go directly for that property of the cell, and they  destroy the enzyme process." ( Although Dr. Hunter had no way of  knowing it, because Harold Hodge never published the data, in 1944  the Manhattan Project at the University of Rochester had explored  using a liver enzyme, esterase, as an ultrasensitive detector for fluorine  in the workplace. Liver problems, of course, were a cardinal complaint  of the Martin family.)'   George Meade, Martins lead attorney, then held up Exhibit 0-1  for the jury. It was the etched window glass from the Martin ranch.  The lawyer told the jury that each day several thousand pounds of  fluorides had escaped from the Reynolds plant, by the company s own  admission. In March 1950, for example, shortly before the Mar -tins  abandoned their farm, the plant was belching 3,988 pounds of     172     CHAPTER THIRTEEN     fluoride into the air every day.' Could these fluorides have etched the  Martin window glass, Mead asked Dr. Hunter in front of the jury? And if  they etched the glass, was that proof that Reynolds fluoride had hurt the  family?   Hunter testified that he had seen exactly the same thing in England after  the war, where a window was etched with fluoride and a nearby farming  family had been hurt. "This is precisely the etched glass window that I saw  in Lincolnshire on an ironworks in England, when in 1946, a family like  the Martins was overcome with the same symptoms as the Martins," said  Hunter. "The effluent was the same thing, hydrogen fluoride and cryolite  dust, aluminum fluoride and even silico fluoride which are probably the  worse [sic] of the lot." 10 Dr. Hunter concluded: "It is my opinion that all  three of the Martin family suffer from subacute fluorosis. "   A second doctor also diagnosed the Martins with "subacute" fluo-rosis.  Dr. Richard B. Capps of Northwestern University in Chicago was perhaps  America's leading specialist on the liver. He too had trained at Harvard and  had battled an epidemic of liver jaundice that had plagued U.S. soldiers in  Italy during World War II. Dr. Capps testified that medical tests revealed  that the livers of both Paul Martin and his daughter Paula were abnormal.  He described the Martins' "bizarre" health symptoms — breathing  difficulties, stomach problems, bone pain, excess urination, and  anxiety — as having been precisely described in the medical literature by  the Danish scientist Kaj Roholm.   Paula had been ten years old when the family moved to the ranch. Her  health quickly disintegrated. She told the court that when she urinated, "I  would be scalded and burned and would have to use Noxema or cream  medicines on myself." She was always "short of breath," she added, and  unwilling to play sports with other children in the Troutdale High School.  Her mother stayed awake at night massaging her painful feet.   Dr. Capps said that the discomfort and "clicking" in Paula's ankles was  likely to be caused by fluoride attacking her tendons and bones. The  chemical also caused her exhaustion and enlarged thyroid, he explained to  the jury. "Fluorine tends to substitute for iodine in such a way that a person  who is exposed to fluorine becomes deficient in iodine, and deficiency in  iodine causes a certain type of     SHOWDOWN IN THE WEST     173     enlargement of the thyroid which is frequently associated with a low  metabolism, a deficiency in thyroid function.'   The spectacle of decomposing cattle strewn across the Martins  land, and of a glass window scarred by poisonous gases, had left an  indelible impression on the Chicago doctor. "I think that if there is  enough fluorine to etch a window, it should be able to etch a lung,"  Capps told the jury.   Then Capps noted that all three of the Martins had become health  ier when they fled the ranch in 1950 and stopped eating the farm's  contaminated produce. Their liver tests improved. Their breathing  grew stronger, and the fluorine levels in Paul Martin's urine declined.  Capps concluded that there was only one medical explanation  possible for what had happened on the Troutdale farm: You are  forced to make the diagnosis of poisoning with fluorine, he said."   The star defense witness, Dr. Robert Kehoe, now took the stand.  The Reynolds lawyer lobbed a careful Softball for the Kettering  medical director. Are you aware, attorney Frederic Yerke queried  him, of any incident or instance based upon your own experience,  Doctor, where a man working with fluorides has become disabled by  reason of the fact that he has absorbed more than an ordinary amount  of the same?" If aluminum workers in wartime factories — which  frequently had no pollution controls — had not been sickened by  fluoride, went the logic of Yerke's questioning, how could the Martins,  who merely lived near a plant, possibly have been injured by smaller  amounts of the chemical?   In my experience, no, Kehoe told the jury. I have not.   It was a lie worthy of Joseph Goebbels. Just seven years earlier, in  the summer of 1948, Kehoe's investigators from the Kettering  Laboratory had found 120 cases of bone fluorosis in aluminum  workers at Alcoa's plant in Massena, New York. His scientists told  Alcoa that thirty-three of the workers were "severe" cases and showed  "evidences of disability ranging in estimated degree up to 100  percent. (The Kettering Laboratory s Edward Largent had also found  twisted bones and "fluorine intoxication" in workers at the  Pennsylvania Salt Company during the late 194os — although his  published study had claimed the men suffered no disability.)" The  Kettering Laboratory had worked to refute Kaj Roholms research,  arguing that even when fluoride was visible in X-rays of workers     174     CHAPTER THIRTEEN     bones, the men bent and hobbling, the medical effect was more likely the  result of hard work, not fluoride. The damaging data from Alcoa and  Pennsylvania Salt were never published by Ketter-ing or made public in  any way. Both corporations, of course, were funding Kettering's fluoride  science.   Kehoe dismissed the significance of the etched glass in the Martin  farmhouse. Human lungs were made of sterner stuff, he insisted. Although  thousands of pounds of highly toxic fluoride gases and dust had spilled  each day for years from the Reynolds plant, felling Martin's cattle, mostly  the wind blew away from the farmhouse and, anyway, Kehoe argued,  "Glass ... is much more subject to injury than the human lung. 17 Living in  the shadow of the giant Reynolds Troutdale plant was "an entirely harmless  situation for human beings," he concluded.   But Hunter and Capps carried the day. On September 16, 1955, the  Portland jury decided in favor of the Martins. They awarded the family  $48,000 for illness and for medical expenses.   In corporate boardrooms across America the language now grew  apocalyptic. The Martin verdict was a precedent that could cost industry  billions. Six weeks later, at a private gathering of top industry officials at  the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, Alcoa's medical director, Dudley  Irwin, told corporate air pollution experts that the Martin ruling was  "significant ... since it is the first one where the plaintiffs allege damage to  their health from the everyday emission of an air pollutant." 19   Reynolds fought the verdict with the desperation of a drowning man.  The Appeals Court risked catastrophe for the U.S. economy if it let the  Martin ruling stand, Reynolds lawyers claimed, invoking cold-war fears.  "Aluminum is vital to our national security, and it is a metal of rapidly  increasing importance to the entire economy, the brief began. "A court  should be loath to adopt principles of law which would, in effect, make  every aluminum plant liable for the unexplained miscellaneous ailments of  the population for miles around." And there was the warning: "There is no  practical alternative to release of fluorides except cessation  of production altogether." 20   The aluminum company summarized the medical evidence that justified  overturning the guilty verdict. Edward Largents human experiments at the  Kettering Laboratory showed that fluoride was     SHOWDOWN IN THE WEST     175     safe in moderate doses, the company asserted. Without mentioning that  it had helped to pay for the research, Reynolds argued that, because the  Kettering scientist had eaten so much fluoride himself, it therefore  proved the harmlessness of the Martins exposure. After ingesting  some 3,000-4,000 milligrams of fluorine over four years, Mr. Largent  had experienced none of the Martins symptoms or any other  symptoms, claimed Reynolds'   And, perhaps for the first time in an American courtroom, the Fluorine  Lawyers unveiled a brand new strategy, pointing to the fed eral  government's endorsement of the safety of water fluoridation — and the fad  for adding fluoride to toothpaste — as evidence that industrial fluoride  pollution could not possibly have been responsible for the alleged injury.     Fluorine Lawyers and  Government Dentists 

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