Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Jersey Fights Over Water Fluoridation: We Really Are Living In the 19th Century

That is, back when the Theory of Evolution was still hotly debated. Oh, wait.

From the Paper Of Record: news that a bill, which requires all public water supplies fluoridate their water, is causing a political stir as it works its way through the state legislature in Jersey. The most shocking fact trottted out in the opening grafs is that only 14 percent of NJ residents have access to fluoridated water, placing it next to last place, only in front of Hawaii. Yet despite this appalling statistic, it is not clear whether the bill will even pass, and if it does, it is equally unclear whether Governor Chris Christie (R) will sign it.

Why is such an obviously beneficial bill having a hard time mustering sufficient support to come into law? It's the usual recipe: misinformation fueled by anti-intellectualism encouraged by demagogues. The article notes that opponents cite websites such as the Fluoride Action Network, whose citation of papers and studies is selective at best in making claims that it is linked to bone cancer and lower IQ among other scourges. The website is sleek and impressive, which no doubt must play a role in convincing people that the anti-fluoridaters are legit and not merely cranks. Like the global warming deniers, the internet has become a powerful tool to disseminate nonsense.

What about all those public health officials and their claims as to the safety and benefits of fluoridate water? Well, they're part of the vast government machinery which conspires to "[medicate] us without our consent," as one insane woman, Ms. Jennifer DiOrio, states. A high school teacher, DiOrio is responsible for the intellectual welfare of her teenage charges, a chilling thought.

Just speculating here, but Governor Christie's current hedge on this issue is likely due in part to his national political ambitions and not wishing to provoke the ire of the far-right constituency currently proving such an irritation to the Romney campaign. As Governor Rick Perry discovered after having supported--in what was unquestionably good policy--a mandate for girls in Texas to receive the HPV vaccine, the road to the Republican nomination is very difficult if one runs afoul of these voters. Since their world-view is utterly cocooned from reality, as they do not believe any scientific data that undermines their preconceived notions, trying to explain to them that there's abundant data supporting the safety and benefits of such a policy is vastly riskier for an aspiring presidential candidate than just vetoing the bill and offering up some cheap fart about government overreach.


  1. There is a vast array of research as to the potentional negative affects from a lifetime of fluoride overuse. It's not just in your water, it's in your food supply and your toothpaste and possibly your mouthwash. No one can tell how much each person is consuming for sure on a dailey basis, therefore, how can anyone convince me that a neuro toxin is safe? Read the science on the EPA and CDC websites , then get back to us.

  2. Dear J--

    I would no sooner try to convince you that water fluoridation is safe and beneficial than I would try to explain to an Englishman of the 12th century that demons don't exist--that is, it's readily apparent that no amount of evidence will get you to budge from your belief. As you so clearly point out, since "no one can tell" you anything with absolute scientific certainty, "how can anyone convince me that a neuro toxin is safe"? I'm trying to traffic in scientific knowledge, which is frequently messy and is never absolute; yours seems the tone of a religious zealot. Maybe I'm wrong, which would be a delight in this case.

    What I will say--in the unlikely event that there is anyone out there in cyberspace reading this rather tedious exchange--is that the leading scientific and public health agencies are mostly settled on the benefits of water fluoridation. You implied that I hadn't "read the science" on water fluoridation studies. If you mean by that that I haven't pursued a specialty in the science of water fluoridation and read through every scientific paper on the subject, you are correct, although there are only a very few people who do that, and a quick consult of a few public health review articles on the subject, which I did at the time I wrote the post, was sufficient for me.

    Furthermore, you admonished me to review the CDC and EPA websites as if they contained a dark secret about fluoridation. The CDC website could not be more clear in extolling the virtues of water fluoridation: "for over 65 years, community water fluoridation has been a safe and healthy way to effectively prevent tooth decay" ( The EPA website is not as full-throated in its advocacy on its page about fluoridation (, but both reference the same National Academies report you linked above--meaning that you have taken some specific data in that report out of context, which is common enough for those who already know in advance which science they "like".

    At best, what can be said of this report you cite is that there are some concerns about fluoridation at the higher end of exposures, but that hardly qualifies as a wholesale repudiation of the practice that you seem to believe it says. Others wishing to review the report can obtain it for free through the link supplied by J.

    Best, Billy

  3. The fact that you trust the CDC, an arm of the military and very much in bed with Big Pharma and Big Aluminum, shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are mentally lazy and docile. Must be the sedative effects of the fluoride (an ingredient in both anti-depressants and bug spray. Hmmmm.) Read the book The Fluoride Deception and then maybe you'll get a clue. Also read your tube of toothpaste. It says that if you swallow the fluoride in your toothpaste, contact a poison control center. That's the same amount as in a glass of fluoridated water. Get it? Stop forcing your pseudo-science on people who prefer to think for themselves.

  4. Why, thank you for reading and spitting fire, anonymous!

    I have heard of Big Pharma, but Big Aluminum is a new one on me.

    For clarification's sake, the CDC is most definitely not "an arm of the military". The only thing the two organizations have in common is that they are both funded by a man named Uncle Sam.

    My tube of toothpaste says that "if more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help". My toothpaste is Crest--my wife is more fond of Colgate, so there's obviously no accounting for taste. But I could find you dozens of labels of medicines and whatnot that advise the same thing, so I'm not sure what your point is. If you drink too much water you will require medical attention. Do you think it's wise to abstain?

    With mental laziness and docility, Billy