American History

Fluoride: Why is it in the water?


A look through the American City & County archives reveals the early history of the practice of adding small amounts of fluoride to public water supplies

The Syracuse, N.Y., Jay-Cees taste test fluoridated and unfluoridated water and determine there is no difference. Published in The American City, November 1956Starting in the 1930s, readers of The American City followed news about the effects of fluoride in water supplies in the pages of the magazine. The magazine's early reports offered methods for removing fluoride, which naturally occurred at high levels in some communities' water supplies and damaged residents' tooth enamel. By the 1940s, the magazine's reports about fluoride showed the benefits of adding the element in controlled low doses as a way to improve residents' dental health.

The fluoridation of public water supplies in New York State started in Newburgh in 1945 in a 10-year study by the New York Department of Health that compared the dental health of Newburgh children with those of Kingston, N.Y., who did not have fluoridated water. Results of the study showed a 58 percent reduction in dental decay among children who had been drinking fluoridated water all their lives, according to a January 1956 report in The American City.

Similar positive results were recorded in a 10-year study in Grand Rapids, Mich., that began in 1945. According to a December 1955 report in the magazine, the unfluoridated control community in that experiment, Muskegon, stopped being the control six years into the study, demanding the same benefits of fluoridation for its residents that Grand Rapids was recording.

By November 1956, the magazine reported that roughly 1,100 municipalities were adding fluoride to their water, but 42 communities had started and stopped the practice. The Syracuse, N.Y., Bureau of Municipal Research surveyed those cities to determine why they had stopped and found, “In nearly every case, respondents pointed to a small, organized vocal public minority.” One respondent said there was "a fear psychosis" in the community, and another reported an “opposition party arose that not only blocked fluoridation, but also resisted school improvements, defeated the formation of a hospital district, and smeared individuals in the city administration.” One city’s leaders that stopped fluoridation in response to a petition were nevertheless voted out of office during the next election.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

nyscof (not verified)
on Feb 3, 2012

Fluoridation Opposition is Scientific, Respectable & Growing

4,038 professionals (including 331 dentists and 518 MD’s) urge that fluoridation be stopped citing scientific evidence that ingesting fluoride is ineffective at reducing tooth decay and has serious health risks. See statement:

Eleven US EPA unions representing over 7000 environmental and public health professionals are calling for a moratorium on fluoridation.

The CDC reports that 225 less communities adjusted for fluoride between 2006 and 2008. About 100 US and Canadian communities rejected fluoridation since 2008.

In Nebraska, 53 out of 66 towns voted not to fluoridate in 2008 and 2010, reports the PEW Foundation.

Tennessee, once 99% fluoridated, is now down in the low 90’s, according to the American Dental Association News.

In 2011 the following US cities stopped fluoridation: Holmen and Grantsburg, Wisconsin; Welsh, Louisiana; Mechanicsville, Iowa; Hartland, Marcellus and Mt. Clemens, MI; Fairbanks and Palmer, Alaska; Spring Hill, Lawrenceburg & Hohenwald, TN; Philomath, OR; Pottstown, PA; College Station and Lago Vista, Texas ; Spencer, Indiana; Naples, NY; Pinellas County and Tarpon, FL; Amesbury, MA and Yellow Springs, Ohio . In 2012: Myerstown, Pennsylavnia

In Canada: Lake Shore, Ontario; Calgary, Slave Lake and Taber, Alberta; Flin Flon, Manitoba; Verchères, Québec; Lake Cowichan and Williams Lake, BC; Moncton and Dieppe, New Brunswick.

In New Zealand: New Plymouth and Taumarunui.

Many cities are considering stopping fluoridation including New York City

New York State communities which have already stopped or rejected fluoridation include: Elba, Levittown, Canton, Corning, Johnstown, Oneida, Carle Place, Rockland County, Suffolk County, Western Nassau County, Albany, Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Riverhead, Central Bridge Water District, Homer, Ithaca, Rouses Point and Amsterdam.
Students in Ireland are spearheading a campaign to stop fluoridation in the only country that mandates fluoridation country-wide.

Adverse health effects of ingesting fluoride are here http://www.FluorideAction.Net/health

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What's American History?

It highlights the development of U.S. local and state government.


Erin Greer

While most journalism graduates would jump at a chance to chase down the latest story, Erin Greer ran, screaming, from the opportunity. A long-time performer and PR professional, Erin was used to...
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