By: Eric Mayne, The Windsor Star, Windsor, Ontario 04-Apr-2012 — Quick! Name a milestone of progress that trickled down from the status quo …
Nearly every landmark achievement in Western society stems from a grassroots movement.
Women’s suffrage. Child labour laws. Civil rights protection. At one time, all were regarded as outrageous notions.
Grassroots movements foisted these issues on the public consciousness against the vigorous objections of – you guessed it – the status quo.
This drama is being played out again today in Ontario as municipalities debate whether the artificially fluoridated water glass is half full, or half empty.
Venerable agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voice approval. This newspaper cites “almost 60 years of scientific research that supports the case to fluoridate our drinking water.”
Sounds like someone’s been drinking the Kool-Aid.
Supplemental statistics to those that prop up the CDC’s endorsement of artificial water fluoridation also challenge its fundamental effectiveness.
Boosters smugly note the CDC’s pronouncement that AWF is one of “the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.” This claim is based on a World Health Organization study that shows a steady, long-term decline in dental caries where AWF programs were implemented.
The unpublished story: A corresponding plunge in tooth decay occurred in countries that have not adopted AWF.
This strongly suggests additional factors contributed to our improved dental health and raises the question: Why would any fiscally prudent decision making body approve expenditures associated with AWF?
Certainly public awareness of proper hygiene contributed to the gains. Credit the same dental community that so actively promotes AWF, with the alarming exception of an American Dental Association caution against mixing infant formula with “optimally” fluoridated water.
Then there’s the prevalence of fluoridated toothpaste. There are more brands on today’s store shelves than the Osmond family has teeth. And for a good deal less money.
So, what of those 60 years of research supporting AWF? Not a lie. But not the whole truth, either. There are no clinical research studies – zero, zilch, nada – to demonstrate the safety of the chemical delivery agent used to artificially fluoridate water in Windsor and countless other Ontario communities.
The status quo has given an unprecedented free pass to hydrofluorosilicic acid, an expedient sodium fluoride alternative discovered in the 1960s. Expedient because it is readily available as a byproduct of fertilizer production.
This makes curious the derisive call to accountability levelled at AWF’s grassroots opponents – a global community whose number includes more than a dozen Nobel laureates and the 5,000-member Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
Lost in the murky waters of this debate is the fundamentally critical issue of fluoride ingestion, the unfortunate consequence of using drinking water to deliver a chemical intended for topical use.
(Hand-washing prevents colds and flu; why don’t municipalities distribute Dove? But I digress.)
Over-exposure to fluoride causes unsightly dental fluorosis and, over time, causes crippling skeletal fluorosis. Questions also have been raised about links to thyroid malfunction and arthritis.
Not surprisingly, the grassroots and status quo disagree on the validity of those questions. But drowned out by their dispute is the disturbing fact that AWF is not our only source of fluoride exposure and that total exposure is unknown.
It’s in the food we eat and the air we breathe. Health Canada, another avid AWF backer, concedes total fluoride exposure for children in communities with AWF is nearly 44 per cent higher than in communities without.
Hear that? That’s the sound of a shrug by the status quo.
So remember this: Grassroots is not a dirty word.