The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson Forward and Introduction from archive.org
Christopher Bryson with a foreword by Dr. Theo Colborn
"Christopher Bryson is an excellent narrator, and he reports on recent research previously not known to me. Especially I am intrigued by the story about Phyllis Mullenix and her animal research on the influence of fluoride on behavior and braindevelopment It is my sincere hope that his book will receive the attention it deserves and that its implications will be seri- ously considered." Dr. Arvid Carlsson. 2000 Nobel Prize Laureate for Medicine "In much the same way biologist Rachel Carson warned us over forty years ago in Silent Spring about the havoc and harm being caused by the misuse of persistent pesticides, journalist Christopher Bryson here lays bare the secret story and hidden dangers of the introduction of fluoride chemicals from the cold war era into our drinking water. The irrefutable evi- dence of duplicity and cover-up presented in this book is hair-raising. The Fluoride Deception presents a scorching indictment of how researchers and health care officials working closely with government agencies, big industry, and their attorneys have allowed themselves to surrender their responsibility for the medical well-being of their fellow citizens." Dr. Albert W. Burgstahler. former president of the https://www.blogger.com/null International Society for Fluoride Research and Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry, University of Kansas "Bryson is nght on in his emphasis on the ineffectiveness of fluoridation of water with industrial wastes, and its nsks of nerve and brain damage, and cancer, coupled with the long-standing industrial conspiracy to suppress this information." Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health "The Fluoride Deception compellingly and inescapably exposes the mur- derous fraud that heads of state and industry have for decades perpe- trated on an innocent public. Extremely well written and tightly researched, The Fluoride Deception is sure to become the 'must read' book in this important and burgeoning field." Derrick Jensen, author of The Culture of Make Believe and A Language Older Than Words Toute entreprise humaine, fut-elle industrielle, est susceptible de perfectionnement ! Inscription on memorial to the sixty dead of the 1930 Meuse Valley disaster It is not just a mistake for public health agencies to cooperate and collaborate with industries investigating and deciding whether public health is endangered — it is a direct abrogation of the duties and responsibilities of those public health organizations. Scientist Clair Patterson to the U.S. Senate, If you aint thinking about Man, God and Law, you aint thinking about nothin . Joe Strummer (1952-2002) Contents Foreword by Theo Colborn vii Note on Terminology x Acknowledgments xii Introduction xiv Major Figures in the Fluoride Story xxii 1 Through the Looking Glass 1 2 Fireworks at Forsyth 1 1 3 Opposite Sides of the Atlantic 30 4 General Groves s Problem 45 5 General Groves s Solution: Dr. Harold Hodge and the University of Rochester 65 6 How the Manhattan Project Sold Us Fluoride: Newburgh, Harshaw, and Jim Conants Ruse 78 7 A Subterranean Channel of Secret-Keeping 91 8 Robert Kehoe and The Kettering Laboratory 101 9 Donora: A Rich Mans Hocus Pocus 1 14 10 The Public Health Service Investigation 133 1 1 As Vital to Our National Life As a Spark Plug to a Motor Car 148 12 Engineering Consent 158 13 Showdown in the West: Martin vs. Reynolds Metals 168 14 Fluorine Lawyers and Government Dentists: A Very Worthwhile Contribution 176 15 Buried Science, Buried Workers 184 16 Hurricane Creek: The People Rule 202 17 The Damage Is Done 217 Epilogue: Blind to the Truth? 230 Postscript: Dr. Arvid Carlsson, 2000 Nobel Laureate 240 Note on Sources 242 Notes 247 Index 359 Foreword THEO COLBORN THE QUESTION OF whether fluoride is or is not an essential element is debatable. In other words, is the element, fluorine, required for normal growth and reproduction? On one hand there appears to be a narrow range of topical exposure in which it might prevent cavities. But if exposure is too high, it causes serious health problems. And could an individual who is totally deprived of fluoride from conception through adulthood survive? Definitive research to resolve these questions has never appeared in the public record or in peer-reviewed journals. It is important to keep this fact in mind as you read this book. Chris Bryson informs us that fluorine is, indeed, an essential element in the production of the atom bomb, and there is good reason to believe that fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste — and the development of the atom bomb — are closely related. This claim sounded pretty far-fetched to me, and consequently I was extremely skeptical about the connection when I started reading the book. Bryson writes with the skill of a top-selling novelist, but it was not his convincing storytelling that made me finish the book. It was the haunting message that possibly here again was another therapeutic agent, fluoride, that had not been thoroughly studied before it was foisted on the public as a panacea to protect or improve health. Bryson reveals that the safety of fluoride became a firmly established paradigm based on incomplete knowledge. The correct questions were never asked (or never answered when they were asked), thus giving birth to false or bottomless assumptions that fluoride was therapeutic and safe. Certainly, the evidence Bryson unearthed in this book begs for immediate attention by those responsible for public health. As the story unfolds, Bryson weaves pieces of what at first appears to be totally unrelated evidence into a tapestry of intrigue, greed, FOREWORD collusion, personal aggrandizement, corporate and government cover-up, and U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) mistakes. While reading the book, I kept thinking back to 1950, three years after I got my BS degree in Pharmacy and the year I gave birth to my first child. Fluoride came on the market packaged in pediatric vitamin drops for infants. Mothers left the hospital with their new babies in their arms and prescriptions in their hands from their dismissing physicians for these fluoride-laced drops. About that time communities around the country began to add fluoride to their drinking water. The promised benefits of fluoride were so positive that my dentist friends began to wish that they had chosen dermatology instead of dentistry. At that same time pregnant women were being given a pharmaceutical, diethylstilbestrol (DES), to prevent miscarriages, as well as DES-laced prescription vitamins especially designed for pregnant women to produce big, fat, healthy babies. I felt good when I dispensed the fluoride and DES prescriptions — they were products designed to prevent health problems rather than treat them. Now I can only wonder how many children were harmed because I and others like me took the word of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the USPHS, and the major pharmaceutical companies producing these products. We were caught up in the spin. We were blind to the corporate hubris and were swept along with the blissful enthusiasm that accompanies every new advance in modern technology and medicine. The hazards posed by prenatal exposure to DES surfaced a lot sooner than those posed by fluoride. And although by 1958 it was discovered that DES caused a rare vaginal cancer that until that time had been found only in postmenopausal women, its use during pregnancy was not banned until 1971 — thirteen years later. Even this year, 2003, new discoveries are being reported about the impact on health in the sons and daughters of the DES mothers, and now in their grandchildren. It is estimated that in the United States alone there are ten million daughters and sons. In comparison to DES, where exposure could be traced through prescription records, the extent of exposure to fluorides through drinking water, dental products, vitamins, and as Bryson points out, through Teflon, Scotchgard, Stainmaster, and other industrial and agricultural fluorinated products is practically unmeasurable. FOREWORD ix Certainly the evidence Bryson presents in this book should cause those charged with protecting public health to demand answers about the developmental, reproductive, and functional role of fluorine in all living organisms. A lack of data on the safety of a product is not proof of safety. Evidence has only recently surfaced that prenatal exposure to certain fluorinated chemicals is dangerous, often fatal at high doses, and that — even at extremely low levels — such exposure can undermine the development of the brain, the thyroid, and the metabolic system. This evidence surfaced because industrial fluorine chemicals were suddenly being discovered in human and wildlife tissue everywhere they were looked for on earth. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) began to press the manufacturers of these products for data on their safety. It is no wonder that such chemicals never made it on the list of known endocrine disrupters, chemicals that undermine development and function. The studies were never done, or if they were, they were not available to the public. It is time that these chemicals, at the cumulative concentrations they are found in the environment, be tested thoroughly for their developmental, reproductive, and endocrine effects. Whether or not Bryson's nuclear-bomb connection is ever con- firmed without a doubt, this book demonstrates that there is still much that needs to be considered about the continued use of fluorine in future production and technology. The nuclear product that required the use of fluorine ultimately killed 65,000 people outright in one sortie over Japan. The actual number of others since then and in generations to come who will have had their health insidiously undermined by artificial exposure to fluorides and other fluorine chemicals with half-lives estimated in geologic time may well exceed that of the atom bomb victims millions and millions of times over. Dr. Theo Colborn, coauthor of Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story (1996) Note on Terminology THE TERMS fluorine and fluoride should not be confused in a book about chemical toxicity. Fluorine is an element, one of our planets building blocks, an especially tiny atom that sits at the summit of the periodic table. Its lordly location denotes an unmatched chemical potency that is a consequence of its size and structure. The nine positively charged protons at the atoms core get little protection from a skimpy miniskirt of electrons. As a result, fluorine atoms are unbalanced and dangerous predators, snatching electrons from other elements to relieve their core tension. (A ravenous hunger for electrons explains why fluorine cuts through steel like butter, burns asbestos, and reacts violently with most organic material.)' Mercifully, Mother Nature keeps fluorine under lock and key. Because of its extreme reactivity, fluorine is usually bound with other elements. These compounds are known as salts, or fluorides, the same stuff that they put in toothpaste. Yet the chemical potency of fluorides is also dramatic. Armed with a captured electron, the toxicity of the negatively charged fluoride ion now comes, in part, from its tiny size. (Ionic means having captured or surrendered an electron). Like a midget submarine in a harbor full of battleships, fluoride ions can get close to big molecules — like proteins or DNA — where their negative charge packs a mighty wallop that can wreak havoc, forming powerful bonds with hydrogen, and interfering with the normal fabric of such biological molecules.' However — and please stay with me here, I promise it gets easier — somewhat confusingly, the words fluorine and fluoride are some-times used interchangeably. A fluoride compound is often referred to, generically, as fluorine. (For example, the Fluorine Lawyers Committee was a group of corporate attorneys concerned about the medical and legal dangers from a great range of different industrial "fluorides" spilling from company smokestacks.) In these pages Ive tried to be clear when Im referring to the element fluorine or to a compound, a fluoride. And because different fluoride compounds often have unique toxicities, where relevant or NOTE ON TERMINOLOGY Xi possible, I have also given the compounds specific name. Mostly, however, for simplicity s sake, I have followed convention and used the shorthand fluoride when referring to the element and its multiple manifestations, a procedure approved and used by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.' Acknowledgements This book owes a debt of gratitude to many. First is my wife, Molly, whose love and encouragement pushed me to the starting line and carried me across the finish. My first encounter with fluoride came as a BBC radio journalist working in New York in 1993, when I was asked to find an "American angle" on water fluoridation. Ralph Nader put me in touch with scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who opposed fluoridation) As I followed that story, I met the medical writer Joel Griffiths. His investigative article "Fluoride: Commie Plot or Capitalist Ploy" in the fall 1992 issue of the magazine Covert Action Information Bulletin is a masterful and detailed account of how fluoride is primarily an industrial and environmental story. Griffiths reported how vested economic interests were behind the earliest suggestions that fluoride be added to water, while those same interests for decades had assiduously suppressed information about fluorides destructive effects on health and environment. Griffiths paradigm-shifting story was my starting gun and, as my Manhattan neighbor, I leant heavily on his reporting, interviews, documents, interpretation and the gentle friendship of him and his wife Barbara as I wrote this book. Librarians are foot soldiers of democracy, and a legion of them sacked archives for me from Tennessee to Washington State and from Denmark to London. Everywhere I was met with eager help digging out dusty files and courteous answers to the most foolish of questions. Special thanks to my favorite Metallica fan, Billie Broaddus, at the University of Cincinnati Medical Heritage Center, Marjorie Ciarlante at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and Donald Jerne at the Danish National Library of Science and Medicine. The book's spine is the authority of the many workers, scientists, and public officials who gave so freely of their time. Particular gratitude to Albert Burgstahler of the University of Kansas, the EPA's J. William Hirzy, Robert J. Carton, Phyllis J. Mullenix, Kathleen M. Thiessen of SENES Oak Ridge Inc., and Robert F. Phalen of the University ACKNOWLEDGMENTS of California at Irvine, who each spent long hours reviewing documents and medical studies for me. I had the good fortune to serve an apprenticeship in the 1980s with the late Jonathan Kwitny, one of the nations top investigative reporters. From his hospital bed, weak from radiation treatment, he encouraged me. This is your book, he said. I was helped with financial support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, Inc., and the Institute for Public Affairs. A bouquet to Dan Simon at Seven Stories Press, who clapped his hands in glee when told he'd be taking on the great industrial trusts of America. Special thanks to Lexy Bloom and Ruth Hein for their critical and conscientious editing; to George Miirer, Anna Lui, Chris Peterson, and India Amos for wrestling this octopus to the printer; and to the entire staff at Seven Stories Press for their passion and commitment. Many helped in myriad other ways. This book is theirs, too. Gwen Jaworzyn, Janet Michel, Bette Hileman, USA Today and Peter Eisler, George Mavridis, Felicity Bryson and Vincent Gerin, Ruth Miller at the Donora Historical Society, Anne-Lise Gotzsche, Barbara Griffiths, Anthony and Nancy Thompson and family, Basil and Anne Henderson, Joan-Ellen and Alex Zucker, Nina and David Altschil-ler, Bill and Janney Murtha, Tom Webster, Naomi Flack, Ken Case, Bob Woffinden, Traude Sadtler, Gordon Thompson, Clifford and Russ Honicker, Jacqueline O. Kittrell, Ellie Rudolph, Robert Hall, Martha Bevis, John Marks, Chris Trepal, Carol Patton, Gar Smith at Earth Island Journal, Lennart Krook, Danny Moses at Sierra Club Books, Andreas Schuld, Erwin Rose and family, Roberta Baskin, the Connett family, Colin Beavan, Sam Roe, Karin and Hans Hendrik Roholm, Eleanor Krinsky, Allen Kline, Bill and Gladys Shempp ( who put me up in their home in Donora one night), Elizabeth Ramsay, Lynne Page Snyder, and Peter Meiers, whom I never met nor spoke with but whose splendid research led me to the papers of Charles F. Kettering. Thank you all. Introduction A Clear and Present Danger Warning: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away. NEXT TIME YOU confront yourself in the bathroom mirror, mouth full of foam, take another look at that toothpaste tube. Most of us associate fluoride with the humdrum issue of better teeth and the promised fewer visits to the dentist. Yet the story of how fluoride was added to our toothpaste and drinking water is an extraordinary, almost fantastic tale. The plot includes some of the most spec tacular events in human affairs — the explosion of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, for example. Many of the principal characters are larger than life, such as the "father of public relations" Edward L. Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, who was until now more famous for his scheme to persuade women to smoke cigarettes.' And the twists and turns of the fluoride story are propelled by nothing less than the often grim requirements of accumulating power in the industrial era — the same raw power that is at the beating heart of the American Century. Fluoride lies at the elemental core of some of the greatest fortunes that the world has ever seen, the almost unimaginable wealth of the Mellons of Pittsburgh and the DuPonts of Delaware. And no wonder the warning on the toothpaste tube is so dramatic. The same potent chemical that is used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, to prepare Sarin nerve gas, and to wrestle molten steel and aluminum from the earth's ore is what we give to our children INTRODUCTION XV first thing in the morning and last thing at night, flavored with peppermint, strawberry, or bubble gum. Fluoride is so muscular a chemical that it has become a lifeblood of modern industry, pumped hotly each day through innumerable factories, refineries, and mills. Fluoride is used to produce high-octane gasoline; to smelt such key metals as aluminum, steel, and beryllium; to enrich uranium; to make computer circuit boards, pesticides, ski wax, refrigerant gases, Teflon plastic, carpets, waterproof clothing, etched glass, bricks and ceramics, and numerous drugs, such as Prozac and Cipro. Fluoride's use in dentistry is a sideshow by comparison. But its use in dentistry helps industry, too. How does it work? Call it elemental public relations. Fluoride is so potent a chemical that it's also a grave environmental hazard and a potential workplace poison. So, for the industry-sponsored scientists who first promoted fluoride's use in dentistry, linking the chemical to better teeth and stoutly insisting that, in low doses, it had no other health effect helped to change fluorides image from poison to panacea, deflecting attention from the injury that factory fluoride pollution has long wreaked on workers, citizens, and nature. Hard to swallow? Maybe not. The face-lift performed on fluoride more than fifty years ago has fooled a lot of people. Instead of conjuring up the image of a crippled worker or a poisoned forest, we see smiling children. Fluoride's ugly side has almost entirely escaped the public gaze. Historians have failed to record that fluoride pollution was the biggest single legal worry facing the atomic-bomb program following World War II. Environmentalists are often unaware that since World War II, fluoride has been the most damaging poison spilling from factory smokestacks and was, at one point during the cold war, blamed for more damage claims against industry than all twenty other major air pollutants combined. And it was fluoride that may have been primarily responsible for the most notorious air pollution disaster in U.S. history — the 1948 Halloween nightmare that devastated the mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania — which jump-started the U.S. environmental movement.' It's the same story today: more happy faces. Yet we are exposed to fluoride from more sources than ever. We consume the chemical from water and toothpaste, as well as from processed foods made xvi INTRODUCTION with fluoridated water and fluoride-containing chemicals. We are exposed to fluorine chemicals from often-unrecognized sources, such as agricultural pesticides, stain-resistant carpets, fluorinated drugs, and such packaging as microwavable popcorn bags and hamburger wrappers, in addition to industrial air pollution and the fumes and dust inhaled by many workers inside their factories. Fluorides double-fisted trait of bringing out the worst in other chemicals makes it especially bad company. While a common air pollutant, hydrogen fluoride, is many times more toxic than better-known air pollution villains, such as sulfur dioxide or ozone, it "synergistically" boosts the toxicity of these pollutants as well. Does fluoride added to our drinking water similarly increase the toxicity of the lead, arsenic, and other pollutants that are routinely found in our water supply? As we shall see, getting answers to such questions from the federal government, even after fifty years of endorsing water fluoridation, can prove impossible. By the mid-193os European scientists had already linked fluoride to a range of illnesses, including breathing problems, central-nervous-system disorders, and especially an array of arthritis-like musculoskeletal problems.' But during the cold war, in one of the greatest medical vanishing acts of the twentieth century, fluoride was systematically removed from public association with ill health by researchers funded by the U.S. military and big corporations. In Europe excess exposure to fluoride produced a medical condition described as "poker back" or "crippling skeletal fluorosis" among fac tory workers. But the chemical somehow behaved differently when it crossed the Atlantic, the industry-funded researchers implied, failing to produce such disability in the United States. It was a deceit, as we shall see: scientific fraud on a grand and global scale; a lawyerly ruse to escape liability for widespread worker injury; a courtroom hustle made possible and perpetuated by the suppression of medical evidence and by occasional perjury. Your history is all mixed up, say supporters of water fluorida-tion. The story of how fluoride was added to our toothpaste and water is a separate history, unrelated to fluoride's use in industry, they maintain. But there is only one story, not two. The tale of the dental wonder chemical and the mostly secret account of how industry and the U.S. military helped to create and polish that INTRODUCTION xvn public image are braided too closely to distinguish between them. The stories merge completely in the conduct of two of the most senior American scientists who led the promotion of water fluo-ridation in the 19405 and 1950S, Dr. Harold Carpenter Hodge and Dr. Robert Arthur Kehoe. Don't blame the dentists. They were taught that fluoride is good for teeth. Few realize that Dr. Hodge, the nation's leading fluoride researcher who trained a generation of dental school deans in the 19506 and 1960S, was the senior wartime toxicologist for the Man- hattan Project. There he helped choreograph the notorious human radiation experiments in which hospital patients were injected with plutonium and uranium — without their knowledge or consent — in order to study the toxicity of those chemicals in humans. Hodge was similarly charged with studying fluoride toxicity. Building the worlds first atomic bomb had required gargantuan amounts of fluoride. So, for example, on behalf of the bomb makers he covertly monitored one of the nation's first public water fluoridation experiments. While the citizens of Newburgh, New York, were told that fluoride would reduce cavities in their children, secretly blood and tissue samples from residents were sent to his atomic laboratory for study.' Some dentists are unaware that much of the fluoride added to drinking water today in the United States is actually an industrial waste, "scrubbed" from the smokestacks of Florida phosphate fer- tilizer mills to prevent it from damaging livestock and crops in the surrounding countryside. In a sweetheart deal these phosphate com- panies are spared the expense of disposing of this "fluosilicic acid" in a toxic waste dump. Instead, the acid is sold to municipalities, shipped in rubber-lined tanker trucks to reservoirs across North America and injected into drinking water for the reduction of cavities in children. (So toxic are the contents of the fluoride trucks that in the aftermath of the September II, zoos, terrorist attack, authorities were alerted to keep a watchful eye on road shipments of the children's tooth-decay reducer.) 8 "I had no idea where the fluoride was coming from until the anti-fluoridationists pointed it out to me, Dr. Hardy Limeback, the head of Preventative Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Canada, and a former leading fluoridation supporter, told me. I said, You have got to be wrong. That is not possible! xviii INTRODUCTION Those same phosphate manufacturers were members of an influential group of industries that sponsored Dr. Robert Kehoe s fluoride research at the University of Cincinnati during the 1940s and 1950s. Kehoe is better known today for his career-long defense of the safety of adding lead to gasoline (now discredited). But he was also a leading figure reassuring citizens and scientists of the safety of industrial fluoride and water fluoridation, while burying information about the chemical s toxic effects and privately sharing doubts with his corporate sponsors about the safety of even tiny amounts of the chemical. 9 Not surprisingly, peering behind the fifty-year-old facade of smiling children with rows of picket-fence-white teeth is difficult. Industry is reluctant to have its monument to fluoride safety blackened or its role in dental mythmaking explored. Several of the archives I visited had gaping holes or missing documents, and some were closed entirely. And many scientists are reluctant to speak critically about fluoride — mindful of the fate of researchers who have questioned the government line. Scientists have been fired for their refusal to back down from their questions about the safety of fluoride, blackballed by industry, or smeared by propagandists hired by the U.S. Public Health Service and the American Dental Asso-ciation. 10 "Bodies litter the field," one senior dental researcher told me when he learned that I was writing a book on fluoride. Myths are powerful things. Mention of fluoride evokes a skeptically cocked eyebrow from liberals and conservatives alike and an almost reflexive mention of the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove. The hilarious portrayal of General Jack D. Ripper as a berserk militarist obsessed with Communists adding fluoride to the nation's water became a cultural icon of the cold war — and perhaps the movie's most famous scene. (Today Nile Southern, the son of Dr. Strangelove's screenwriter, Terry Southern, remarks that the news that U.S. military and industrial interests — not Communists — promoted water fluoridation is "just shocking. Terry and Stanley [ Kubrick] would have been horrified by it.")" The media caricature was largely false. The national grassroots struggle against water fluoridation was a precursor of todays environmental movement, with multicolored hues of political affiliation. It was led by veteran scientists with distinguished careers safeguard- INTRODUCTION xix ing public health, including the doctor who warned the nation about the dangers of cigarette smoking and the risk from allergic reaction to penicillin. Yet instead of being seen as medical pioneers and minutemen, warning of the encroachment of industrial poisons, antifluoridationists are portrayed as unscientific and isolationist the modern equivalent of believing that the earth is flat. It is the U.S. medical establishment that is out on a limb, say crit ics. Adding to water a chemical so toxic that it was once used as rat poison was a uniquely American idea and is, increasingly, a lone American practice. Most European countries do not add fluoride to their water. Several nations have long since discontinued the practice, doubting its safety and worth." Fluoride may help teeth, but the evidence is not overwhelming. Although rates of dental decay have fallen significantly in the United States since the 194os, similar improvements have been seen in countries where fluoride is not added to the water. Improved dental care, good nutrition, and the use of antibiotics may explain the parallel improvement. A largely sympathetic official review of fluoridation by the British government in 2000 found that most studies of the effectiveness of fluoridated water were of moderate quality and that water fluoridation may be responsible for 15 percent fewer cavities." Thats a far cry from the 65 percent reductions promised by the early promoters of fluoride. With revelations that such health problems as central nervous system effects, arthritis, and the risk of bone cancer were minimized or concealed entirely from the public by early promoters of fluoride, the possible benefit of a handful of better teeth might not be worth running the risk. How many cavities would have to be saved to justify the death of one man from osteosarcoma?" asked the late Dr. John Colquhoun, the former chief dental officer of Auckland, New Zealand, and a fluoride promoter turned critic. "I did not realize the toxicity of fluoride," said Dr. Limeback, the Canadian. I had taken the word of the public health dentists, the public health physicians, the USPHS, the USCDC, the ADA, the CDA [Canadian Dental Association] that fluoride was safe and effective without actually investigating it myself. Even the theory of how fluoride works has changed. The CDC no longer argues that fluoride absorbed from the stomach via XX INTRODUCTION drinking water helps teeth. Instead, the argument goes, fluoride strikes at dental decay from outside the tooth, or topically, where, among other effects, it attacks the enzymes in cavity-causing bacteria. Drinking fluoridated water is still important, according to the CDC, because it bathes the teeth in fluoride-enhanced saliva — a cost-effective way of reaching poorer families who may not have a balanced diet, access to a dentist, or the regular habit of brushing with fluoride toothpaste.' But swallowing treated water allows fluoride into our bones and blood, where it may be harmful to other parts of the body, say critics. If fluoride can kill enzymes in tooth bacteria, its potentially crippling effects on other enzymes — the vital chemical catalysts that regulate much biological activity — must be considered.' When I investigated [such questions] I said, "This is crazy." Lets take it out of the water because it is harming so many people — [not] simply the dental fluorosis [the white mottling on teeth caused by fluoride], but now we are seeing bone problems and possibly cancer and thyroid problems. If you are really targeting the poor people, lets give toothpaste out at the food banks. Do something other than fluoridate the water supply," said Dr. Limeback. Then [the fluoride promoters] kept saying, Well, it is cost effective. That is a load of crap-it is cost effective because they are using toxic waste, for crying out loud! History tells us that overturning myths is rarely easy. But we have been down this path before. The fluoride story is similar to the fables about lead, tobacco, and asbestos, in which medical accomplices helped industry to hide the truth about these substances for generations. Fluoride workers share a tragic fate with the souls who breathed beryllium, uranium, and silica in the workplace. Endless studies that assured workers that their factories and mines were safe concealed the simple truth that thousands of people were being poisoned and dying painful early deaths from these chemicals. So if this tale of how fluorides public image was privately laundered sounds eerily familiar, maybe its because the very same professionals and institutions who told us that fluoride was safe said much the same about lead, asbestos, and DDT or persuaded us to smoke more tobacco. INTRODUCTION XXI Lulled by half a century of reassurances from supporters of fluoride in the public health establishment, many doctors today have no idea of the symptoms of fluoride poisoning. A silent killer may stalk us in our ignorance. There is a black hole out there, in terms of the public and scientific knowledge, says former industry toxicologist Dr. Phyllis Mullenix. There is really no public health issue that could impact a bigger population. I dont think there is an element of this society that is not impacted by fluoride. It is very far-reaching and it is very disturbing." Fifty years after the U.S. Public Health Service abruptly reversed course during the darkest days of the cold war — and endorsed artificial water fluoridation — it is time to recognize the folly, hubris, and secret agendas that have shackled us too long, poisoning our water, choking our air, and crippling workers. It is time, as the Quakers ask in life, to speak truth to power. Good science can sharpen the tools for change, but it will be public opinion and citizen action that strike those shackles free. Major Figures On The Fluoride Story edward L. bernays . A propagandist and the self-styled father of public relations, Bernays was Sigmund Freud s nephew. Among his clients were the U.S. military, Alcoa, Procter and Gamble, and Allied Signal. On behalf of big tobacco companies he persuaded American women to smoke cigarettes. He also promoted water fluoridation, consulting on strategy for the National Institute of Dental Research. Gerald judy COX. A researcher at the Mellon Institute in the 1930s, where he held a fellowship from the Aluminum Company of America. Following Frarys (see below) suggestion, Cox reported that fluoride gave rats cavity-resistant teeth and in 1939 made the first public proposal to add fluoride to public water supplies. henry trendley dean. The U.S. Public Health Service researcher who studied dental fluorosis in areas of the United States where fluoride occurred naturally in the water supply. His fluorine-caries hypothesis suggested that fluoride made teeth cavity-resistant but also caused unsightly dental mottling. Worried about toxicity, Dean opposed adding fluoride to water in Newburgh, New York, the site of the nations first-planned water fluoridation experiment. In 1948 Dean became the first director of the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) and, in 1953, a top official of the American Dental Association. OSCAR R. ewing . A top Wall Street lawyer for the Aluminum Company of America. As Federal Security Agency administrator for the Truman administration with jurisdiction over the Public Health Service, it was Ewing who, in 1950, endorsed public water fluoridation for the United States. MAJOR FIGURES FRANCIS COWLES FRARY. As Director of Research at the Aluminum Company of America from 1918, Frary was one of the most powerful science bureaucrats in the United States and grappled with the issue of fluoride emissions from aluminum smelters. It was Frary who made early suggestions to Gerald Cox, a researcher at the Mellon Institute, that fluoride might make strong teeth. GENERAL LESLIE R. GROVES. Head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Manhattan Project to build the world's first atomic bomb. HAROLD CARPENTER HODGE. A biochemist and toxicologist at the University of Rochester who investigated fluoride for the U.S. Armys Manhattan Project, where he also supervised experiments in which unsuspecting hospital patients were injected with uranium and plutonium. After the war Hodge chaired the National Research Council s Committee on Toxicology and became the leading scientific promoter of water fluoridation in the United States during the cold war. DUDLEY A. IRWIN. Alcoa s medical director who helped oversee Robert Kehoes fluoride research at the Kettering Laboratory, and who met personally with top fluoride researchers at the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) following the verdict in the Martin air-pollution trial. ROBERT A. KEHOE . As the Director of the Kettering Laboratory of Applied Physiology at the University of Cincinnati, Kehoe was the leading defender in the United States of the safety of leaded gasoline. Guided by a group of corporate attorneys known as the Fluorine Lawyers Committee, Kehoe similarly defended fluoride on behalf of a group of corporations that included DuPont, Alcoa, and U.S. Steel, all of which faced lawsuits for industrial fluoride pollution. EDWARD J. L ARGENT. A researcher at the Kettering Laboratory who defended corporations accused of fluoride pollution and spent a career negating the fluoride warnings of the Danish scientist Kaj xxiv MAJOR FIGURES Roholm. Largent exposed his wife and son to hydrogen fluoride in a laboratory gas chamber. NICHOLAS C. LEONE. The head of medical investigations at the federal governments NIDR who was in close communication with industry s Fluorine Lawyers and who, following the 1955 Martin verdict, met with Alcoa s Dudley Irwin and the Kettering Laboratory s Robert Kehoe to discuss how government water fluoridation safety studies could help industry. WILLIAM J. MARCUS . A senior toxicologist in the EPAs Office of Drinking Water. In 1992, after he protested what he described as the systematic downgrading of the results of the government's study of cancer and fluoride, he was fired. A federal judge later ruled that he had been fired because of his scientific opinions on fluoride and ordered him reinstated. PAUL AND VERLA MARTIN. Oregon farmers who were poisoned by fluoride from a Reynolds Metals aluminum plant. Their precedent-setting court victory in 1955 sparked emergency meetings between fluoride industry representatives and senior officials from the National Institute of Dental Research and launched a crash program of laboratory experiments at the Kettering Laboratory to prove industrial fluoride pollution "safe." PHYLLIS J. MULLENIX. A leading neurotoxicologist hired by the Forsyth Dental Center in Boston to investigate the toxicity of materials used in dentistry. In i 994i after her research indicated that fluoride was neurotoxic, she was fired. KAJ ELI ROHOLM. The Danish scientist who in 1937 published the book Fluorine Intoxication, an encyclopedic study of fluoride pollution and poisoning. He opposed giving fluoride to children. PHILIP SADTLER. The third-generation son of a venerable Philadelphia family of chemists, Sadtler gave expert testimony during the 1940s and 1950s on behalf of farmers and citizens who claimed that they had been poisoned by industrial fluoride pollution. He MAJOR FIGURES XXV blamed fluoride for the most notorious air pollution disaster in U.S. history, during which two dozen people were killed and several thousand were injured in Donora, Pennsylvania, over the Halloween weekend in 1948. FRANK L. SEAMANS. A top lawyer for Alcoa, Seamans was also head of the group of senior attorneys known as the Fluorine Lawyers Committee, which represented big corporations in cases of alleged industrial fluoride pollution. GEORGE L. WALDBOTT. A doctor and scientist and a leading expert on the health effects of environmental pollutants, Waldbott's research in the 19505 and 196os on his own patients indicated that many people were uniquely sensitive to very small doses of fluoride. He founded the International Society for Fluoride Research and was a leader of the international and domestic opposition to water fluoridation. COLONEL STAFFORD L. WARREN. Head of the Manhattan Projects Medical Section. EDWARD RAY WEIDLEIN. Director of the Mellon Institute, where Cox carried out his studies. 1 Through the Looking Glass At the children's entrance to the prestigious Forsyth Dental Center in Boston, there is a bronze mural from a scene in Alice in Wonderland. The mural makes scientist Phyllis Mullenix laugh. One spring morning, when she was the head of the toxicology department at Forsyth, she walked into the ornate and marbled building and, like Alice, stepped through the looking glass. That same day in her Forsyth laboratory she made a startling discovery and tumbled into a bizarre wonderland where almost no one was who they had once appeared to be and nothing in the scientists life would ever be the same again. AS SHE DROVE alongside the Charles River in the bright August sunshine of 1982 for her first day of work at the Forsyth Dental Center in Boston, toxicologist Phyllis Mullenix was smiling. She and her husband Rick had recently had their second daughter. Her new job promised career stability and with it, the realization of a professional dream. Since her days as a graduate student Mullenix had been exploring new methods for studying the possible harmful effects of small doses of chemicals. By 1982 Dr. Mullenix was a national leader in the young science of neurotoxicology, measuring how such chemicals affected the brain and central nervous system. She and a team of researchers were developing a bold new technology to perform those difficult measurements more accurately and more quickly than ever before. The system was called the Computer Pattern Recognition System.