Mon, 09/10/2012 – 11:00am – 12:00pm
The Portland Fluoride Debate–an hour-long special
Kylie Menagh-Johnson earned a Master’s degree in Public Health from Portland State in 2001 and has worked on numerous public health issues that affect dental health, including tobacco cessation (smokefree bars & restaurants, tobacco-free schools, smokefree apartments) and nutrition (getting junk food and soda out of schools). She is the spokesperson for the Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth Coalition, a coalition of health, education, social justice and community groups advocating water fluoridation in Portland.
Dr. Paul Connett is the director of the Fluoride Action Network and its parent body, the American Environmental Health Studies Project. He is the author of the book, The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up In Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There, and is a retired professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology at St. Lawrence University.
For a clear, readable and evidence-based evaluation on the fluoridation of water, see the following article by Dr. Ted Schettler, Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network:
Commentary — Adding Fluoride To Drinking Water: A Good Idea? 8/2/07
Schettler concludes, in part:
** intentionally fluoridating community drinking water is no longer justified. Adding fluoride to drinking water for the purpose of preventing tooth decay provides virtually no population-wide margin of safety. Under current circumstances, people should not be essentially forced to drink water treated with fluoride when dental benefits can be achieved through topical application and other means.
** An immediate moratorium on the practice of adding fluoride to community drinking water is justified. Risks, benefits, efficacy, and alternatives must be fully, impartially, and transparently re- evaluated, based on current information and data gaps. Moreover, an ethical review of the practice is warranted. […]
See also Dr. Kathleen M. Thiessen’s evaluation at the link below. Dr. Thiessen “served on two subcommittees of the National Research Council’s Committee on Toxicology that dealt with fluoride exposure and toxicity, including the NRC’s Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water [and] authored an Environmental Protection Agency report on fluoride toxicity.” [p. 1]
Comments on EPA’s Fluoride Risk Assessment and Relative Source Contribution Documents, Prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Submitted at the request of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology 4/19/11
Thiessen concludes her review of the research on the effects of water fluoridation on oral health by stating: “the available data, responsibly interpreted, indicate little or no beneficial effect of water fluoridation on oral health.” [p. 12].
I am so glad to hear Dr. Connett speak on this issue.
I hear people arguing back and forth about the science of fluoride. There simply is not enough science about the safety of fluoride out there for anybody to be “right.” Fluoride is also not something that we would naturally need to imbibe for our health. There is no body process for which we need fluoride. It replaces iodine (another halogen) in our bodies, which is why it can easily damage the thyroid as well as make the bones brittle. When we have enough iodine in our diets (which most Americans don’t), our tooth enamel is strong enough, our bones are strong but not brittle and our thyroids have the best chance for health. Replacing this natural component with fluoride makes no sense. Why did neanderthals have perfect, cavity-free teeth while never drinking fluoridated water? The arguments can go on and on, but in reality, this is a civil liberties issue.
I have a right to choose not to be vaccinated or for my children not to be vaccinated. I have a right to choose to use a naturopath or Chinese medicine doctor, to go with natural herbal therapies rather than Western medicine. This goes on and on because they are my constitutional rights. Even IF FLUORIDE IS THE AMAZING PANACEA FOR OUR TEETH that a master’s in public health *knows* that it is, I still have a right not to be forced to take it because the basic liberties that I am afforded as a citizen of this country make it so.
Shall we put Vitamin D in the water so that we don’t have to remember to take it or be bothered to get enough sunlight? Almost all Americans are deficient in that and it’s actually something our bodies NEED, not something that is simply filling in the spot for a nutrient that we don’t eat enough of.
Shall we put other medications in our water? It’s not okay to use my drinking water as a vector for medicating me nor my children because it violates my civil liberties. For those who think they know more than I do, or really, more than the poor (which is a big piece of this argument, the rich and the educated deciding this for the poor) – as soon as you decide that your greater knowledge makes it okay for you to violate my civil liberties, you have started pulling the bricks out of the foundation that this country is built on.
Kylie did an excellent job staying focused in a dialog that was leaning toward personal attack. Instigated by Paul Connet. The first poster is an example of what his kind of attack breeds – disregard for woman’s voices in the community. What some may call “giggly” (Would a man be called giggly?). Personally, her response showed a lot of grace under fire – She was attacked repeatedly by Dr. Connet for simply standing her ground. She had a lot of guts to confront a man who is paid to do just this kind of event all over the county and has been for years.
I did appreciated how the interviewer was willing to point out that even those articles that wanted more study on some aspect of the topic were still supportive of continuing community water fluordiation. He really tried to keep the dialog balanced, even though his out of town guest kept trying to change the tone away to one of personal attack.
Also, Western Europe, if you include Ireland, England, and Spain does have millions of people receving fluoridated water. Don’t forget that most of Europe has salt fluoridation http://tinyurl.com/cycq48q. Italy generally has natural fluoridation at the level best for teeth and therefore doesn’t need fluoridation.
This is why the city council needs to make this decision. Why drag the 70 plus organizations into the mud with personal and unfounded attacks that take away from the time they could be spending working on other great projects. The science supports fluoridation and the majority of the Country has it. We elect council members to make the best decisions for the people. This is not a direct democracy, but closer to a representative democracy. Their job is to represent our best interests, in this case, the Mayor and the council are doing it well.
I heard Kyleigh’s giggling voice about 2/3 of the time and was shocked when she actually asked, “Am I going to get to speak here?” I wanted to hear more from Dr. Connett. He seemed well-informed on the subject. Kyleigh merely regurgitated scripted ADA speeches.
Kyleigh told some outright lies. She said that millions and millions of people in Western Europe have fluoridated water. Only 2% of Western Europe has fluoridated water and their teeth are not worse off for the lack of fluoridation. She claimed that we could expect no harm whatsoever from fluoride, even though it is well known that fluoride can cause skeletal fluorosis. As a matter of fact, most of what Kyleigh said was a lie. Kyleigh was rude and condescending and attempted to marginalize an emeritus professor of chemistry and toxicology, a man educated at Cambrige and Dartmouth as a crazy conspiracy theorist. This demonization of the opposition is characteristic of pro-fluoride groups. I hope the intelligent people of Portland can see through this guise.
Fluoridation is forced medication, pure and simple. Only I have the right to decide what is healthy for my body. If you want fluoride, go get yourself some inexpensive fluoride tablets for you and your family. That choice is yours. Let me decide what is best for my family.
Thanks for tuning into the fluoride debate “wg.” Several people have mentioned, like you, that they felt like Kylie received more air-time than Dr. Connett. So I went back and listened to the program and got this approximate breakdown of time for our guests:
Dr. Connett: 19.5 minutes
Kylie Menagh-Johnson: 16 minutes
Invited pro-fluoride phone guest: 5 minutes
Invited anti-fluoride phone guest: 1.75 minutes
Random anti-fluoride caller: 40 seconds
Randon pro-fluoride caller: 1.5 minutes
I unfortunately due to time constraints and due to a desire to keep the time-share relatively equitable I needed to interrupt Dr. Connett multiple times which probably gave the impression, a false one, that he didn’t have as much time to speak.
Dr. David Naimon
Between two very passionate people who both think they are very “right” about this issue. To me, as a Chinese medicine practitioner/acupuncturist and as a Portland resident and mother, I believe that there is no way at this time that the discussion will ever be worked out by citing study after study and then attacking the various studies for their errors. There are two things here that are the REAL issues that are not being talked about:
1) Using water as a vector for medication is a civil liberties issue and,
2) Our water is already highly expensive and this is an undue expense for taxpayers. I know that my family has a hard time paying our water bill since we have one income supporting four people. Building a fluoridation facility and then fluoridating our water is just too much to add.
Thanks again for putting this show together.
thanks for your kind words “bexg.” You are right that the right to consent is a significant part of this debate and I wish the hour had evolved as I had hoped and we had been able to dedicate more than the few minutes at the beginning and the 5 minutes at the end to this issue, to really go into the clash between individual rights and government/public health agendas, as well as further discuss the controversy around the city council deciding this instead of the voters, without consulting the various suburbs affected, and with the majority of yes-voters not up for reelection, so shielded from accountability for this decision. fortunately, KBOO has done at least 3-4 other shows on fluoride from various angles and has at least one other planned, so I’m sure it is being discussed even if you didn’t hear it today.