North America’s water fluoridation debate: Battleground Austin
by: Neev M. Arnell
(NaturalNews) As a result of a year-long public outcry against water fluoridation in Austin, TX, the City Council held its second public meeting on the issue May 18, which attracted a standing-room only crowd.
Water fluoridation is a policy endorsed by numerous global health organizations, most notably the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Controversy surrounding the practice has grown in recent years, however, as an increasing number of scientists and health professionals argue that fluoride in drinking water causes many negative health effects, especially when looked at beyond dental health to the impact on the whole body. (http://impactnews.com/southwest-aus…)
Areas in the U.S. and Canada, most recently Calgary with 1.1 million people, have already stopped fluoridation and U.S. cities such as Austin, Denver, CO and Boulder, CO, which are considering the fluoridation issue currently, may follow suit. This could cause a domino effect across North America and bring water fluoridation to a halt permanently, according to Fluoride Action Network Executive Director Dr. Paul Connett, who attended Austin’s meeting.
“For a year, members of the community would keep coming to [the regular City Council meetings] to talk about it,” said councilmember Randi Shade. “And we would just sit there because there was no format, no opportunity for us to do anything in that situation, so my point was to take it out of that and into a place we can actually deliberate, actually get the facts, start really getting education on what the implications would be for the larger community.”
The Austin City Council Health and Human Services Subcommittee invited speakers both in favor of and against fluoridation of drinking water to address specific questions from the City Council, and enable subcommittee members to determine if Austin needs to remove fluoride from the city’s drinking water.
The fluoride debate
Dr. Delton Yarbrough, chair of the Council on Dental Economics, and Dr. Cecil George from the Texas Dental Association, who attended the meeting as the pro-fluoridation experts, were unable to respond to the onslaught of science from the opposing side with science that supported their pro-fluoridation views.
“[Dr. Connett] is clearly very articulate and excellent at presenting his case,” Shade said. “But the issue that Dr. Connett raised is really, the United States government, who is responsible for setting health care policy for the nation, should be looking at this.”
Connett, professor emeritus of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York and 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,” flew into Austin for the day to argue against fluoridation. Arguably the leading authority on water fluoridation, Connett responded to every point made by his opponents by quoting peer-reviewed studies, as did his associate, dentist Griffin Cole, who runs a fluoride-free practice in Austin.
“My two opponents today didn’t cite one primary study indicating safety — not one study showing that fluoridation works,” Connett said. “They really were not satisfactory answers. I think independent observers would find their case wanton.”
Yarbrough and George instead relied heavily on endorsements of fluoride from public health organizations and anecdotal evidence.
“More than 100 national and international health, science, service, and professional organizations recognize and endorse the public health benefits of community water fluoridation,” Yarbrough said. “Outside of that, as a practicing dentist in an area where the fluoride content of the water on the low end is .9 parts per million, I don’t really need the benefit of science to know how effective fluoride in the water is. I see it every day at work when patients open their mouths.”
Yarbrough later was dismissive of Connett’s studies without backing up his claims and eschewed science in general in favor of an appeal to faith.
“They say these studies aren’t validated. We say their studies aren’t validated,” Yarbrough said. “The studies their quoting out of China, Dr. Connett paid to have those studies translated and brought out of China and the modalities of those studies have been questioned, so it comes down to, who do you believe? Do you believe us? Do you believe them? Do you believe the gigglers in the audience?”
Laughter at the statement “Who do you believe?” was followed by a murmur of disapproval running through the audience of the mostly anti-fluoride Austin residents.
“It’s not about who you believe. It’s about the science,” said one spectator.
Going against the recommendations of the public health organizations puts the burden of proof on the opposing side, according to Shade.
“The question that Yarbrough provided was “Who do you believe?” Shade said. “I think the majority of the community would say, if you’re not going to take the recommendations of the CDC whose job it is to provide health care policy for municipalities across the country then you really have to be sure that we are going to do this.”
The delicate fluoridation decision
Whether or not Austin will reverse fluoridation remains to be seen. There is no set date for future action. A change in Austin’s fluoridation policy will require two councilmembers to put it on the agenda and four to vote it out.
“I’m just very nervous about making a change that goes against what the recommendations are for good public health policies from the people who are supposed to responsible for that in our nation,” Shade said. “I mean it’s risky.”
But Lago Vista, a city less than 20 miles outside of Austin, reversed its decision to fluoridate in April 2011 without much fanfare, according to City Manager Bill Angelo.
“There were some concerns that it may not be as healthy as people once thought, and that people have other methods to get fluoride if they want it,” Angelo said. “We also just realized that we didn’t have the expertise to refute whether it was bad or good, so we felt the safest thing to do was remove it.”
In the past few years, a handful of cities surrounding Austin that started fluoridating in the 1980’s have ceased fluoridating their water supplies, including Lago Vista, Alamo Heights, Elgin and Marble Falls.
Elgin’s city council voted 5-3 to take fluoride out of the water, citing reasons, including opposing putting a lead containing material in the water (http://www2.fluoridealert.org/Alert…), opposing forced medication on the public, an inadequate margin of safety and issues with the “additives” in the commercially produced product that is used for fluoridation (http://macsaferwater.wordpress.com/…).
“There was an ominous sign at the end [of the Austin meeting] about how risky it was bucking officialdom,” Connett said. “We have these big agencies like the CDC telling them this is the best thing since sliced bread. But I think that all people that are in positions of power, have responsibility, and good leadership does require occasionally standing up against powerful forces when you have been convinced that those powerful forces are wrong.”
And with the news that civil rights leaders speaking out against fluoride this past month have also been joined by Martin Luther King’s daughter, Bernice, who went public with a denunciation of water fluoridation this week on Georgia’s Praise 102.5 FM, Connett is hopeful about winning the fluoridation battle.
“What is happening in Atlanta is huge” Connett said. “We have known for a long time that blacks and Hispanics are more susceptible to dental fluorosis [which is the staining and pitting of teeth caused by ingesting fluoride]. But now that Andrew Young and Beatrice and other black leaders in Atlanta, right under the nose of the CDC, are coming out against this, I think the writing is on the wall.”
Yarborough did not comment on the future of fluoridation from the pro-fluoride side and refused an interview with NaturalNews.
Sources for this article include:
Peter Greenlaw – Toxicity in North America
A few months ago, I made my way to a presentation to hear Peter Greenlaw speak. Peter is ‘a researcher of researchers’, having dedicated the last 10 years of his life gathering and piecing together information on the effects of environmental toxicity on the human body.
If you’re into facts and stats – Peter is your guy. In 90 minutes, he seemed to share enough information to fill a 300 page book. And in fact, Peter has just co-authored a book with a medical doctor which is to be released some time in the next few months. After hearing him speak last week, I can hardly wait.
My head was absolutely spinning at the end of his lecture. There’s only so much the brain can absorb in 90 minutes. However – I did take some good notes, and I thought some of you might find this information to be interesting and informative.
The rest of this post is a summary of his lecture, with some of the stats and figures Peter shared.
Below is a brief clip from his lecture.
So here it is – a detailed summary of Peter Greenlaw’s Lecture, ‘Toxicity in North America’.
The State Of Our Health
In 1930 less than 3000 in North America people died of heart disease. This year roughly 1,000,000 people will die of the same cause.
In the year 1990, 1/50 women got breast cancer. Today, it’s 1/8. Ten years from now, it is projected that 1/3 women will get breast cancer.
In the year 1990, 1/10,000 children were born with Autism. In 2010, it is 1/100 and 1/70 boys.
1/3 babies born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
What Kind of Air are we Breathing?
Peter explained that in a given space the ideal percentage of Oxygen should be 25%. He also noted that if this drops below 5%, we can’t survive. In big cities around North America such as Chicago, New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, the Oxygen levels are already dropping to as low as 17%. He told a brief story about a time when he was speaking in Hong Kong and on the day he was there, the Oxygen levels had dropped to 7%.
Peter’s Tip: The Breath of Fire
Stand up and start to take deep breathes through your nose. Begin slowly, and steadily increase the speed of the breathes over a 20 second period. On the last breath hold it for just a few seconds and release your air on the sound ‘Pahw’. According to Peter, if you do this just a couple of times per day (first thing in the morning, and right before you go to bed) it will have a significant impact on your health, and it fuel your body Oxygen.
He risked his life!
10 minutes into his lecture Peter held up a glass of water and announced, ‘I am about to risk my life right now, by drinking this tap water’. After sipping the water he explained that on average he had just consumed 700 chemicals. He shared that water treatment plants are now having to build screens in their systems to take out the plastic pill capsules moving through our water and that Gastroenterologists are finding pills in their colon cleanses. Not only have these pills not been digested and absorbed, but in many cases they can still read the labels.
And finally, Peter polled the room about the use of nutritional supplements. When 95% of the room raised their hands he responded, ‘Congratulations. Welcome to the world of expensive urine’.
His point was this: the biggest problem we have with drugs, supplements and food is absorption. In other words, how much is actually getting to where it needs to be? Through his research, he’s concluded that because we are so toxic, our ability to absorb nutrition is dropping significantly.
What is a Calorie?
The next topic was one we all love – diets. He asked the room to give him the definition of a Calorie. Nobody was able to.
He was kind enough to share the real definition: A Calorie is the amount of heat it takes to raise 1 gram of water, 1 degree centigrade.
Then, the message: “Do you understand that the body cannot count calories? It doesn’t know what they are! The only thing your body can measure and use is nutrition”. He explained that most of the calories we’re eating today look like a donut – they are empty. We’re eating and eating, but we’re never full because there’s no nutrition. “And the more bankrupt our food becomes, the more we eat, the bigger we get, the sicker we get, the more tired we get because we don’t have any fuel”.
Some quick facts about our food (in point form)
* Lettuce grown in the fall and winter months in Southern California or Arizona may contain higher levels of toxic rocket fuel than is considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
* If you eat a normal serving of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis in North America this year you will drink approximately 1 Gallon of Herbicides and Pesticides.
* Showing up in our fruits and vegetables and now showing up in mother’s breast milk – traces of of jet fuel
* Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein is a chemical made from junk vegetables that are unfit for sale and it is added to tons of the processed food we see in our grocery stores today
* The amount of HVP in a single bowl of commercially available soup is probably enough to cause blood glutamine levels to rise higher in a human child than levels that predictably cause brain damage in immature animals
* The food industry has substituted nutrition, with sugar
What’s going on with our soil?
I personally found this next point to be somewhat shocking. Peter picked up a report and read, “The leading authorities of the day would sound the alarm that depleted soils are causing a significant decline in the nation’s health, as evidenced by a steady increase of degenerative diseases. Most of us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until the depleted soils from which our foods come are brought into proper mineral balance.
The alarming facts that fruits, vegetables and grains now being raised on millions of acres of land no longer contain enough of certain needed minerals. They are starving us no matter how much of them we eat.
It is bad news to learn from leading authorities that 99% of American people are deficient in these minerals, and that a marked deficiency in any one of these important minerals actually results in disease”.
As if this wasn’t enough, after he read this Peter shared that this was from a report published in the year 1936!!
What effect is this having on us directly?
He read from a report recently published by the American Red Cross: ‘…the average baby tested an average of 287 contaminants in their umbilical chord blood. Of the 287, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 280 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests”.
Peter noted that today in North America we now have 100,000 chemicals in commercial use and that only 563 of these chemicals have been tested for their effect on humans. Furthermore, it is the chemical companies who do the testing.
Here are a few more stats he shared (again, in point form):
* In China, a 2001 study found that 85% of University students that were tested were completely infertile
* Among 8-year-old girls in the US, Britain and Australia, 1/6 have already entered puberty (Just a generation ago it was 1/100)
* Today, nearly 2 out of every 100 girls are showing signs of sexual development at just 3 years of age
When you come to his lecture there will be more information shared by Peter Greenlaw as well as a very informative question and answer period.
Environmental Toxins: What You’re Not Being Told
Physician and Executive Director, Chicago chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility
I have been thinking about environmental toxins a lot lately. From the nuclear accident in Fukushima Japan to the 25th anniversary of the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl to my own work as part of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition — a group of 50 nonprofits working to clean up or shut down Chicago’s deadly and dangerous coal-fired power plants — I am becoming more and more aware that we are all constantly exposed to toxic chemicals and radiation. How much exposure endangers our health? The answer to that question depends on whom you ask.
I’m a wife and mother, so I ask that question in order to do what I can to protect my family. I am also a primary care physician and the director of the Chicago chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing what we cannot cure. If the levels of radiation emitted in the above-ground testing of nuclear weapons (now universally banned) could increase disease — particularly cancer — rates, shouldn’t your physician know about this? If nuclear accidents in one country sent billowing clouds of radioactive waste half-way around the world and landed in the soil where a grazing cow was busy producing milk that your child would some day drink, shouldn’t public health officials know about this risk? If many U.S. farmers applied the weed killer atrazine — a proven endocrine disrupter — to their land every spring, and the runoff ended up in drinking water all across our country and babies, children and adults drank water putting them at higher risk of subsequent infertility and prostate cancer, shouldn’t the medical community be aware of this and take action to restrict the use of this widespread chemical?
Many well-known scientists, public health officials and physicians have been sounding alarms about the links between environmental toxins and human health for years now. From Rachel Carson, a biologist and author of “Silent Spring,” to Dr. Helen Caldicott, a physician and founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility to Sandra Steingraber, PhD, a biologist and cancer survivor who wrote “Living Downstream” and starred in the documentary film of the same title, scientists and physicians have long been drawing the connections between environmental toxins and human health risk.
Some environmental health risks are well accepted. Doctors warn patients about eating overeating and universally encourage patients to stop smoking and to stop consuming too much alcohol. These risks generally represent personal choices, and interventions like diet, exercise, smoking cessation counseling and substance abuse programs are widespread and widely accepted by the medical community. But what about living near a coal-fired power plant, a toxic waste dump or a nuclear waste facility? Why is the medical voice not nearly as strong? As a practicing physician, I can list several factors from my own experience:
1. It is hard to assess individual risk
If you smoke one pack of cigarettes a day, your doctor can rattle off statistics about how your terrible habit is putting you at risk for lung cancer, heart disease, hypertension, emphysema and other serious ailments. Not to downplay the health risks attributable to second-hand smoke, the link between a very bad habit like smoking and health is linear, and a very easy one for doctors and other medical professionals to discuss with their patients who smoke.
The individual risk of exposure to environmental toxins is much harder to pinpoint. Some women may develop infertility by drinking water in which atrazine is found — but which individual woman may really have a higher risk? No one knows. Chicagoans living near our coal-fired power plants experience higher asthma exacerbations and asthma deaths (as documented in a well-known Harvard School of Public Health study), but exactly which pediatric asthma patients in Chicago will have worse outcomes is not known. These sorts of population risks can rarely be brought down to the individual scale. Since most medical professionals council individuals about their own risks, it’s much harder to warn patients about population health threats.
2. Countries under report their cancer rates.
Ukraine is notorious for covering up the facts of the Chernobyl accident. Not only did children go out to play in the fields surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant as the afflicted plant was spewing radiation into the air, but many researchers express serious doubt that the accident resulted in only 4,000 extra cancer diagnoses, as the Ukrainian government claims. And what about the radiation cloud that spread across much of Northern Europe following the accident? What about the milk chocolate made with milk that had high radiation levels because it came from cows grazing on nearby irradiated grass? What were the cancer risks associated with this radioactive fallout? No country has accurately reported this data.
3. The exact rise in cancer rates is impossible to attribute to one environmental accident.
The incidence of certain cancers, particularly thyroid cancer and leukemia, may very well rise in the Japanese population most heavily exposed to radiation from the Fukushima accident. But it will be difficult for epidemiologists — scientists who track diseases within populations — to know exactly how many cancer cases to attribute to the nuclear accident. Cancer can take 15-20 years to appear following excess radiation exposure and other factors may boost or diminish cancer rates. Doctors caring for Hiroshima bombing victims are still seeing new cancers 65 years later.
Environmental toxins pose potentially grave threats to our health, and accidents only compound these threats both locally and for people all over the world who breathe air, eat food, and drink water. Speaking about nuclear power plant accidents, Dr. Jeff Patterson, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility said, “These accidents don’t remain local. They go worldwide.” Though the medical professional caring for you and your family may not address the health risk of environmental toxins, they can do serious harm. Just ask Rachel Carson, Helen Caldicott or Sandra Steingraber.
You can read the original article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-lovinger/environmental-toxins-and-_b_857911.html