October 16, 2008 was a big day in my life: it was the day I first spoke before the Austin City Council on the subject of water fluoridation. My desire to speak out, to reach out to others on this extremely important topic had been building for some time. Not that I wasn’t aware of the dangers of fluoride much earlier; the highly toxic nature of fluorine and its chemical compounds has been known for over a century. But it wasn’t really on my radar – just one of a myriad of bad-for-us additives that have found their way into our food and water supplies in recent decades. I purchased bottled spring water and shrugged it off.
Things changed a few years ago when my husband was diagnosed with osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis. This development was a stunner: the ailment was, as far as we knew, overwhelmingly one of post-menopausal women. But, we reasoned, as our bodies age things are bound to go wrong, and if it took a quirky turn in his case, them’s the breaks. Then, a year or so later, we were relaxing with two other couples at a backyard event when the subject of health came up, and we learned to our amazement that both of those men suffered from bone loss too. It was a surreal moment: three rugged, vigorous middle-aged outdoorsmen swapping tales of their adventures with Fosamax. What struck me was the particularly healthy lifestyle all three enjoyed. They were physically active nonsmokers, healthy eaters, lacking in what are generally termed “bad habits.” What special vulnerability could they have in common? Then I remembered. All of them worked in construction, putting in long hours of heavy manual labor under a hot Texas sun. In an effort to keep hydrated, all consumed exceptionally large quantities of liquid (in my husband’s case, fruit juices). Bingo.
I began to research the subject and my hunch was quickly confirmed. In the years since water fluoridation was introduced – different from place to place – osteoporosis in men and bone cancer in young boys have both skyrocketed. Many children’s teeth now bear the telltale white flecks of fluorosis, an early sign of structural damage that the EPA impudently dismisses as “only cosmetic.” The dire effects of fluoride on bones and teeth have, in fact, been known for a very long time. The Fluoride Deception, a superbly-documented book by Christopher Bryson, does a great job of laying out the historical circumstances, financial interests and cast of characters that intersected, during the 1950’s, to press the pernicious agenda of water fluoridation that is in effect in the United States today. A search of the Austin City Council’s own archives http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/cityclerk/edims/archive/edims_minutes_archive.htm shows that fluoridation was voted in here in 1972 with relatively little fanfare and nowhere near the amount of public discussion such a vital issue merits.
It”s time to revisit water fluoridation with a view to undoing the wrong that was foisted on Austinites – albeit well-intentionedly – more than 35 years ago. Any such project must begin with an education campaign, and to that purpose I’ve developed what I call the Fluoride-Date lecture series. Based right here in Austin we have a popular nationally-syndicated radio mini-program, Star Date, which serves up a daily 2-minute slice of astronomy lore. A great deal of information can be packed into two minutes. If you listen to just one segment, you’ll learn something; if you follow ithe show over a period of time, you’ll end up knowing quite a lot about astronomy. The Fluoride-Date Lectures are conceived in a similar spirit. The difference is that they are 3 minutes long and their target audience is the Austin City Council. I’ll be presenting them during the noontime “General Citizen Communication” portion of the Council meetings as often as possible, and posting them on this blog. If the Council pays attention, it will gain a new understanding of the fluoride situation and why we need to change it. Councilmembers, are you listening?