By 1950, 89 US cities were being fluoridated through the water supply, despite no credible evidence ever submitted that demonstrated that it reduced tooth decay (see 1937 entry), or did anything other than cause disease, misery, and death. By 1950, ALCOA, who had funded the research and falsified data to save millions in disposing of the poisonous chemical, was in a new line of business: selling sodium fluoride to cities to put into their water supply. ALCOA was advertising the blessed purity of its sodium fluoride. Reality had been inverted, and a deadly industrial waste was forced down the American public’s throat as “medicine.”
That reality remains inverted to this day – perhaps the federal government was complicit in this because of their own issues with fluoride in production of nuclear weapons, as seen by their use of Harold Hodge, a renowned scientist and toxicologist, but he was also chief Toxocologist for the Manhattan project directed to come up with medical information to combat the overwhelming evidence of fluoride damage in existing lawsuits against the government. He was also later named as the co-orchestrator of the secret human experimentation where unsuspecting people were injected with plutonium to learn the effects during and after WWII. Or perhaps they had more sinister reasons such as the dumbing down of America so we are less likely to rise up in rebellion of the New World Order plans.
Eventually, the fluoridation results for Newburgh and Grand Rapids were partially published and largely have been ignored ever since. Although there was no measurable decrease in tooth decay, Newburgh boys had twice the incidence of skeletal deformities and a higher tooth-mottling rate as compared to the unfluoridated control group in nearby Kingston. Seeing how Newburgh fared, Kingston has successfully resisted having its water supply fluoridated ever since. Other Newburgh data was noteworthy, although largely suppressed: Newburgh developed one of the highest heart disease rates in the USA, and girls came to puberty earlier than the control group. The heart disease rate in Grand Rapids doubled after the first five years of the fluoridation experiment.
Of the highly toxic elements that are naturally present throughout the earth’s crust-such as arsenic, mercury and lead-fluorine is by far the most abundant. Normally, only minute amounts of these elements are found on the earth’s surface, but industry mines vast tonnages-none in greater quantity than fluorine, which is most often found in the form of calcium fluoride.
As early as 1850, fluoride emissions from the iron and copper industries poisoned crops, livestock, and people. By the turn of the century, lawsuits and burdensome regulations threatened the existence of these industries in Germany and England.
In 1933, the world’s first major air pollution disaster struck Belgium’s Meuse Valley. Several thousand people became violently ill and 60 died. Kaj Roholm, the world’s leading authority on fluoride hazards, placed the blame on airborne fluoride emissions.
It was abundantly clear to both industry and government that U.S. industrial expansion would necessitate releasing millions of tons of waste fluoride into the envirorment. It was equally clear that U.S. industrial expansion would be accompanied by complaints and lawsuits over fluoride damage on an unprecedented scale.
Liability into Assets
During the industrial explosion of the 1920s, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) was under the jurisdiction of Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon, a founder and major stockholder of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). In 1931, a PHS dentist named H. Trendley Dean was dispatched to remote towns in the West where drinking water wells contained high concentrations of natural fluoride. His mission: to determine how much fluoride people could tolerate without sustaining obvious damage to their teeth. Dean found that teeth in these high-fluoride towns were often discolored and eroded, but he also reported that they appeared to have fewer cavities than average.
The University of Cincinnati’s Kettering Laboratory, funded largely by top fluoride emitters such as Alcoa, quickly dominated fluoride safety research. A book by Kettering scientist (and Reynolds Metals consultant) E.J. Largent was admittedly written in part to “aid industry in lawsuits arising from fluoride damage.” Nonetheless, the book became a basic international reference work.
In 1939, Alcoa-funded scientist Gerald J. Cox was one of the first to observe that the “present trend toward complete removal of fluoride from water and food may need some reversal.” It was Cox who proposed that the “apparently worthless by-product” might reduce cavities in children. Cox fluoridated lab rats, concluded that fluoride reduced cavities and declared flatly: “The case should be regarded as proved.”
In 1939, the first public proposal that the U.S. should fluoridate its water supplies was made, not by a doctor, or dentist, but by Cox, an industry scientist working for a company threatened by fluoride damage claims.
Undoubtedly, most proponents were sincere in their belief that the procedure was safe and beneficial.
Nonetheless, their unquestioning endorsement of fluoridation made possible a master public relations stroke. If fluoride could be introduced as a health enhancing substance that should be added to the environment for the children’s sake, those opposing it would look like quacks and lunatics.
Alcoa Foils Accountability
The name of the company with the biggest stake in fluoride was Alcoa -whose name is stamped all over the early history of water fluoridation. By 1938, the aluminum industry (which then consisted solely of Alcoa) was placed on a wartime schedule. During World War II industry’s fluoride pollution increased sharply because of stepped-up production of Alcoa aluminum for fighters and bombers. Fluoride was the aluminum industry’s most devastating pollutant.
Following the war, hundreds of fluoride damage suits were filed around the country against producers of aluminum, iron and steel, phosphates, and chemicals. Most of the lawsuits, particularly those claiming damage to human health, were settled out of court, thus avoiding legal precedents. In a rare exception, a federal court found in Paul M. and Verla Martin v. Reynolds Metals (1955) that an Oregon couple had sustained “serious injury to their livers, kidneys and digestive functions” from eating “farm produce contaminated by [fluoride] fumes” from a nearby Reynolds aluminum plant.
Alcoa and six other metals and chemical companies joined with Reynolds as “friends of the court” to get the decision reversed. Finally, in a time-honored corporate solution, Reynolds mooted the case by buying the Martins’ ranch for a hefty price.
The postwar casualties of industrial fluoride pollution were many -from forests to livestock to farmers to smog stricken urban residents -but national attention had been diverted by fluoride’s heavily publicized new image. In 1945, shortly before the war’s end, water fluoridation emerged with the full force of the federal government behind it.
In that year, two Michigan cities were selected for an official “15-year” comparison study to determine if fluoride could safely reduce cavities in children, and fluoride was pumped into the drinking water of Grand Rapids.
In 1946, despite the fact that the official 15-year experiment in Michigan had barely begun, six more U.S. cities were allowed to fluoridate their water. In 1947, Oscar R. Ewing, a long-time Alcoa lawyer, was appointed head of the Federal Security Agency, a position that placed him in charge of the Public Health Service. Under Ewing, a national water fluoridation campaign rapidly materialized, spearheaded by the PHS. Over the next three years, 87 additional cities were fluoridated. The two-city Michigan study (the only scientifically objective test of fluoridation’s safety and benefits) was abandoned before it was half over.
The Father of All Spin Doctors and Author of ‘Propaganda’
The government’s official reason for this unscientific haste was “popular demand.” This enthusiasm was not really surprising, considering Oscar Ewing’s public relations strategist for the water fluoridation campaign was none other than Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward L. Bernays.
Bernays, also known as the father of public relations, pioneered the application of his uncle’s theories to advertising and government propaganda. The government’s fluoridation campaign was one of his most enduring successes.
In his 1928 book, Propaganda, Bernays expounded on “the mechanism” that controls the public mind. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society,” Bernays wrote, “constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…. Our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
Almost overnight, under Bernays’ mass mind-molding, the popular image of fluoride -which at the time was widely sold as rat and bug poison-became that of a beneficial provider of gleaming smiles, absolutely safe, and good for children.
The prospect of the government mass-medicating water supplies with a well-known rat poison to prevent a non-lethal disease flipped the switches of skeptics across the country. But, under Bernays’ spell, fluoride’s opponents were permanently engraved on the public mind as crackpots and right-wing loonies.
In 1950, the PHS officially endorsed fluoridation. Since then, two-thirds of the nation’s reservoirs have been fluoridated and about 143,000 tons of fluoride are pumped in yearly to keep them that way. Today, companies forced to reduce their fluoride emission can even recoup some of their expense by selling fluoride wastes to cities for water fluoridation.
In 1972, the newly formed EPA surveyed atmospheric polluters and reported: “the fluorides currently emitted [by industry] may damage economic crops, farm animals… and construction [i.e. buildings, statuary and glass]….” Nonetheless, the report concluded that “the potential to cause fluoride effects in man is negligible.”
Another EPA report confirmed that, “Fluoride emissions … do have adverse effects on livestock and vegetation” but insisted that “fluoride emissions from primary aluminum plants have no significant effect on human health.” In other words: The stuff withers plants, cripples cows, and even eats holes in stone, but it doesn’t hurt people.
Whenever new scientific evidence threatens fluoride’s protected pollutant status, the government immediately appoints a commission -typically composed of veteran fluoride defenders and no opponents. Usually, these commissions dismiss the new evidence and reaffirm the status quo.
In 1983, however, a PHS panel of “world-class experts” reviewed the safety data on fluoride in drinking water and was surprised to discover that much of the vaunted evidence of fluoride’s safety barely existed. The panel recommended caution, especially in regard to fluoride exposure for children.
But when Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s office released the official report a month later, the panel’s most important conclusions and recommendations had been deleted.
Instead, the government substituted this blanket statement: “There exists no directly applicable scientific documentation of adverse medical effects at levels of fluoride below 8 ppm [parts per million].”
The panel’s final draft had firmly recommended that “the fluoride content of drinking water should be no greater than 1.4-2.4 ppm for children up to and including age nine because of a lack of information regarding fluoride effect on the skeleton in children (to age nine), and potential cardiotoxic effects [heart damage].”
In 1985, basing its action on the Surgeon General’s altered report, the EPA raised the amount of fluoride in drinking water from 2.4 ppm for children and everybody else.