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Fluoridated water: Are we slaves to the state?

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In the 1997 movie Conspiracy Theory, tiny actor Mel Gibson plays Jerry Fletcher, a New York City cabbie who runs an internet conspiracy theory website. The film is full of quotable gems like: ‘“The Vietnam War was fought over a bet that Howard Hughes lost to Aristotle Onassis,’” and another about fluoridated water where he says: ‘“It weakens your will, destroys your capacity for free and creative thought, and makes you a slave to the state!’”

Okay, maybe not. But the issue of fluoridated water has come up in Greensboro and it bears some discussion.

After a decision by the city council, the city began adding fluoride to its water supply in the 1960s, back when we thought asbestos was a miracle fiber, DDT was the solution to a fruitful harvest and we put lead in paint and gasoline to’… wait, why did we put lead in paint and gasoline?

When the state of California began to fluoridate its drinking water this fall it caused a national shortage of the mineral compound and Greensboro was left without a supplier until last week, when the city secured a new source for the chemical compound. They once again began adding fluoride to our drinking water at about a milligram per liter and at a cost of about $15,300 a year.

What we want to know is: Why?

Fluoride, which is introduced to Greensboro’s water supply as hydrofluorosilicic acid, has been touted by scientists since the 1940s as an effective treatment for tooth decay, but lately has been suffering some bad PR.

Fluoride is derived from the element fluorine, a halogen that is gaseous at room temperature. Fluorine is extremely reactive, able to corrode gold and platinum and can be combined with ordinary water to produce hydrofluoric acid, which can cause lethal damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and nervous system. Fluorine was not produced commercially until World War II, because fluorine is necessary to separate isotopes of uranium used for the atom bomb.

In their book, Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb, authors Chris Bryson and Joel Griffiths note the coincidence in timing between the large-scale manufacture of fluorine and the endorsement of fluoride as a dental preventative, and also claim that some of the scientists who endorsed fluoride were the same ones who worked on the Manhattan Project.

Here are some things we know for sure about fluoride:

Its benefits are topical and not systemic.

An overdose of fluoride (dental fluorosis) actually decays the enamel in children’s teeth, causing them to turn brown.

It is a cumulative poison that gathers in the pineal gland, affecting melatonin levels, and the bones, making them brittle.

It has been linked to cancer (non-Hodgkins lymphoma and osteosarcoma).

The FDA has never approved any ingestible fluoride product as safe or effective.

And fluoride in small amounts is not so hard to come by ‘— it’s in toothpaste, certain vitamin supplements and some mineral waters. If people want it, they can easily get it.

But if it’s added to the water supply, everyone gets it ‘— in their drinking water, in their ice cubes, in fountain drinks and cocktails. It’s extremely difficult to avoid, and not everybody wants it.

We feel the issue of fluoridated water should be brought up for a vote in the city elections next fall. Let the facts be aired; let the arguments ensue and let the people have a choice about what goes into their bodies.

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