Fluoride in New Jersey

I saw this poster at a bus stop on campus a couple weeks ago:

If you can’t read it, the title reads: “Stop the New Jersey Public Water Supply Fluoridation Act” and it goes on to say “Fluoride is a toxic chemical even in the smallest doses and when pumped into our water supply it is impossible to control the level of consumption.” (emphasis added)

I took a picture but didn’t think about it again until I saw this article on Friday: “In New Jersey, a Battle Over a Fluoridation Bill, and the Facts” (NYT) by Kate Zernike. I appreciate that she calls the fearmongering what it is — a conspiracy theory:

While 72 percent of Americans get their water from public systems that add fluoride, just 14 percent of New Jersey residents do, placing the state next to last… A bill in the Legislature would change that, requiring all public water systems in New Jersey to add fluoride to the supply. But while the proposal has won support from a host of medical groups, it has proved unusually politically charged.

Similar bills have failed in the state since 2005, under pressure from the public utilities lobby and municipalities that argue that fluoridation costs too much, environmentalists who say it pollutes the water supply, and antifluoride activists who argue that it causes cancer, lowers I.Q. and amounts to government-forced medicine.

Public health officials argue that the evidence does not support any of those arguments — and to the contrary, that fluoridating the water is the single best weapon in fighting tooth decay, the most prevalent disease among children.

But they also say they are fighting a proliferation of misleading information. While conspiracy theories about fluoride in public water supplies have circulated since the early days of the John Birch Society, they now thrive online, where anyone, with a little help from Google, can suddenly become a medical authority.

The whole article is worth a read. I think it’s a pretty good journalistic take on a charged issue that is a political controversy but not a scientific one. It gives some context as to why people are against it — a few misleading studies amplified by word of mouth and the Internet — but also emphasizes which side the evidence base (overwhelmingly) backs up.

Further, there are some echoes here of the anti-vaccine movement,  in that a move to reduce the threshold of acceptable fluoride levels  by HHS was taken to be an acknowledgment that the worst fears of the fluoridation foes were vindicated. That parallels how any mention of efforts to improve vaccine safety (a good thing) is misshapen by antivaccine activists into an acknowledgment that their theories have been vindicated. In short, I’m looking forward to Seth Mnookin‘s take on all this.


03 2012

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  1. David Durham #

    Brett how’s it going on your end? can you send a copy ot Sam for me please mate, thank you…David.

    I looked at what you wrote on Sam childers, aka preacher or killer, and I tell you, your not far wrong. if a man hide guns in a church and uses an orphanage as a front, should be taken out and flogged. the simple reasion is that a church should be used as a church not as a gun vault. and to do this in the name of God, shame, shame, shame! but Sam did do one thing right, he opened an orphanage but then got lost in the overwhelming weight on his shoulder and broke away from God’s embrace and decided to go it alone, he should do what they did a rawanda, swop guns for bibles and that will give more hope to those who are hurting from the loss of family as well as give hope to the children who were made to commit the killings. the children in the LRA are so full of guilt from the crime they did in the name Kony, that6 they fell they have no way back…so I say this to Sam Childers, give them away back…swop guns for bibles and by doing this you might perhaps save something of yourself in return. Ps when you do get guns for bibles, distroy the guns, burn them and bend the barrels…I’d like to add you to my friends list on face book Sam so email me anytime.
    your brother in Christ, David Durham…email, aniceone2@y7mail.com

  2. paige allen #

    sorry i couldnt post this on the other blog.

    Have you been to Sudan to see the orphanage have you worked with the child soldiers in uganda?
    it is very easy to criticise from a priveleged position in our western countries but until you have been there one cannot undertnad the complications and comprimises of working in these countries.
    We run a charity helping there and visit regularly so although he may not being a perfect person at least he has made the effort and helped a bit.

    May i ask you how much help you have given to the kids of this war torn country? and to any others of those who have critised him

    • 3

      Paige – I’m not saying that Childers hasn’t done any good (in fact I note that he has), simply that there are much better folks for people to support. Childers clearly has a history of violence and a penchant for stretching the truth; there are lots of folks working in Uganda and Sudan who don’t have that baggage.

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