SEASON ONE RECAP: IT'S NOT A CONSPIRACY—IT'S A POLLUTION STORY
with Melissa Gallico
Episode 12 of the #Fpollution podcast provides a recap of season one about the pollution story behind fluoridation and explains how the United States is in the middle of the biggest pollution scandal in American history.
Ep12 with Melissa Gallico
Season One Recap: It's Not a Conspiracy—It's a Pollution Story
"The heart of the pollution story behind public water fluoridation is this: industry polluters—aided, in many cases, by government officials—created a pseudo-scientific consensus that inflated fluoride’s benefits and obscured its adverse health effects in a successful effort to limit their vulnerability to lawsuits over fluoride air pollution. That’s it. That’s the pollution story behind fluoridation."
Melissa Gallico is a former FBI analyst and military intelligence officer. She is also author of The Hidden Cause of Acne, illustrator of F Is for Fluoride, and host of the #Fpollution podcast, dedicated to exposing the pollution story behind fluoridation. She has a degree in science and technology in international affairs (STIA) from Georgetown University and a master's degree in international security studies from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland where she spent a year as a Fulbright scholar to the United Kingdom.
Featured references for this episode:
For other references and resources discussed in this episode, see the links in the transcript below.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT.
This podcast is produced by Gallico Studios, a multimedia effort supported by a community of activists who share the goal of exposing the pollution story behind fluoridation. To join the studio or learn more, visit our website at www.Fpollution.com.
Melissa Gallico: Welcome to #Fpollution podcast. I'm your host, Melissa Gallico, author of The Hidden Cause of Acne: How Toxic Water is Affecting Your Health and What You Can Do About It and F Is for Fluoride: A Feasible Fairytale for Freethinkers 15 and Up.
We are at the end of season one of the #Fpollution podcast and I am very happy to report that our show on the American pollution story behind artificial water fluoridation has already had listeners from over 30 countries around the world. The bulk of you are from the United States, Canada, and Australia but we’ve also had listeners from places like Brazil, the Philippines, Denmark, and Hong Kong. I am so grateful to everyone who has listened to the show and told someone else about it, whether it’s in real life or on social media. And a special thank you to one of my personal heroes, Erin Brockovich, for posting about the #Fpollution podcast on her Facebook page.
I decided to create this podcast last year because 1) there were no podcast series devoted to this very important controversial issue and 2) podcasting is such an effective medium for storytelling. And like presidential candidate Tim Ryan said when I asked him about his position on fluoridation, “That’s how you move things. With stories.”
I wanted to tell the pollution story behind fluoridation specifically because in my conversations with regular people about fluoride over the years, that’s the part of the story that really makes the whole thing make sense. When scientists are arguing back and forth, the natural reaction for a lot of people is to sit back and say, “we’ll just let them fight it out and go with whoever comes out on top.” In this case, the fluoridationists. And I think that’s why, whenever the topic of the negative health effects of fluoride comes up, one of the first questions people always seem to ask is, “But why would the government promote fluoridation if it’s not safe?” People need to understand the why—and we can only do that by explaining the pollution story behind fluoridation and the financial incentives, particularly in post-WWII America but even today, for turning a blind eye to the adverse health effects of chronic fluoride exposure.
It i s really important that we as a society understand how fluoridation happened. Over the past decade or so that I’ve been really focused on this issue, I’ve noticed that even some activists who have spent a lot of time and energy opposing fluoridation don’t have a clear or in many instances an accurate understanding of why the government promotes it. And maybe since I’ve spent so much of my career as a government analyst, especially with the federal government, that experience has helped me understand how something like this could happen: how a policy that is so clearly harmful to human health was accepted and promoted by the very agencies charged with protecting the public.
Despite what you might have heard in the movies, the government’s decision to promote artificial water fluoridation was not a conspiracy where a group of evil men sat in a room and put together a scheme to intentionally poison their fellow citizens. That is not what happened. The government does not promote adding fluoride to water as a way to dumb down the American people or make them submissive. The true story is much more complex than that.
Some people read Joel Griffiths’ articles about fluoride and the atomic bomb program or Christopher Bryson’s book, The Fluoride Deception, and they come away thinking that the military-industrial complex is behind fluoridation because they needed a lucrative way to offload their hazardous waste product. This is closer to the truth but still not what actually happened. There were no restrictions on air pollution when fluoridation was introduced. The EPA didn’t even exist yet.
I’ve actually had some activists get very angry with me when I refuse to agree with the theory that polluters hired Edward Bernays—the father of public relations—to sell fluoridation to the American people. I’ve never seen any evidence of that theory. Maybe they did at one point, but the only evidence I’ve seen of Bernays working on fluoridation is from the 1960s, long after the practice was officially endorsed by the federal government. And he wasn’t working on it with industry. As we discussed in episode 3, Bernays was acquaintances with the New York City health commissioner, a government health official. They occasionally met over lunch and one of the topics they discussed was the best way to gain the public’s acceptance of fluoridation in New York City. As far as he knew, he was using his skills as a public relations expert for a good cause, a program that medical authorities widely regarded as hugely beneficial.
Fluoridation was not a grand conspiracy or even a deception. Deception entails a deliberate attempt to deceive. But if you read back through the historical letters and memos and internal communications I included in episodes 2 and 3 about the pollution story behind fluoridation, it’s clear these men genuinely believed the amount of fluoride added to water is harmless. And it’s not because the science was beyond their time (researchers like Kaj Roholm and Margaret Smith had already published advanced studies on the toxicity of fluoride). It was because they were biased. They were working on behalf of the polluters.
Henry Lickers, the environmental director for the Mohawk Tribe at Akwesasne featured in our last episode said it best when he pointed out that conspiracy is a really hard thing to do and it takes a lot of people. Instead, he blames fluoridation on a combination of ignorance and social inertia. I would add scientific and institutional bias to that list, as well.
The heart of the pollution story behind public water fluoridation is this: industry polluters—aided, in many cases, by government officials—created a pseudo-scientific consensus that inflated fluoride’s benefits and obscured its adverse health effects in a successful effort to limit their vulnerability to lawsuits over fluoride air pollution. That’s it. That’s the pollution story behind fluoridation.
Most people today aren’t even aware that fluoride is a form of air pollution. But in the 1940s and 1950s when fluoridation was introduced, fluoride was the leading form of air pollution. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated in the opening sentence of the chapter about fluoride in their 1972 air pollution handbook, “airborne fluorides have caused more worldwide damage to domestic animals than any other air pollutant.” I linked to the handbook in the show notes for episode 3, along with several newspaper clippings and legal filings from that time about the extensive lawsuits industry was facing over their fluoride air pollution. They were mostly over harm to vegetation and livestock, but the legal briefs and internal communications for the first personal injury lawsuit over fluoride poisoning makes it clear that these corporate polluters saw harm to human health from fluoride exposure as an existential threat to their industries.
Because they were forced to defend themselves against claims of fluoride toxicity in court, industry spent a lot of money funding biased scientific research with the express purpose of proving that long term exposure to low doses of fluoride is safe. And they used dentists’ interest in fluoride as a smokescreen for their pollution problem. The paper trail is irrefutable. I hope you’ve had a chance to look at in the show notes for past episodes at Fpollution.com. I’ll link to one of the clearest examples here. It’s a legal brief from the first personal injury lawsuit over fluoride air pollution. During the trial, the lawyers literally held up a dental pamphlet on fluoridation as proof that fluoride air pollution is harmless because the pamphlet contained “statements of one medical and scientific expert after another, all to the effect that fluorides in low concentrations (such as are present around aluminum and other industrial plants) present no hazard to man.”
Knowing how threatened these companies felt by the personal injury lawsuits they would be facing if public health officials confirmed that chronic, low-dose fluoride exposure is a human health hazard, it’s easy to see why they spent so much money and effort to conceal the negative health effects of fluoride. But for a lot of people, it’s not as easy to see how corporate polluters convinced all the big government agencies and public health organizations to go along with such a far-reaching pollution scandal.
So to help explain that, beginning with episode 4 we started focusing on each of the big players individually—the EPA, the CDC, the American Dental Association—and the roles they played and continue to play in promulgating the myth designed to aid corporate polluters in court that long term, low dose fluoride exposure is safe.
We started with the Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to 1970 when President Richard Nixon created the agency, water and air pollution were not federally regulated. America’s pollution problem was so bad that in the early 1970s, the EPA commissioned a hundred freelance photographers just to document it. I’ll link to a recent article in Business Insider with some of the photographs so you can see for yourself just how big of a problem the country was facing.
Fluoride air pollution was one of the first topics the newly-formed EPA studied and by 1972, they produced a comprehensive report on the cost effectiveness of controlling fluoride emissions. But even though EPA scientists were familiar with fluoride as a dangerous form of air pollution, they were seemingly fine with it in regard to the safety of artificial water fluoridation. To understand how that happened, in episodes 4 and 5, we spoke with two of the first presidents of the EPA union, Drs. Robert Carton and William Hirzy, about how the EPA was manipulated through political pressure to inflate the safety standard for fluoride. The union even tried to sue EPA over the matter but their friend of the court brief was rejected by 2 of the 3 judges, the sole vote of dissent coming from Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Union members voted unanimously to oppose fluoridation and even testified in front of the U.S. Senate in June 2000 to call for an immediate moratorium on fluoridation over concerns of the neurotoxicity and carcinogenicity of fluoride.
After the EPA, we tackled the Centers for Disease Control in a conversation with Daniel Stockin, a career public health official and the former manager of the EPA’s Western Regional Lead Training Center. Through a number of Freedom of Information Act Requests, Mr. Stockin helped expose the CDC’s bias towards immediately disregarding any evidence of harm from fluoride to protect the reputation of their fluoridation program. One of the more disturbing facts he uncovered is that as of 2011 when this particular FOIA request was submitted, the CDC’s Oral Health Division, a small group of 30 or so people, was the only division that had any influence on the CDC’s policy on fluoridation. Not toxicology, neurology, endocrinology, pediatrics, or any other specialty division that you would expect to be providing guidance on the nation’s fluoridation policy, especially considering the volumes of scientific research, much of it from other countries, on how fluoride impacts these vital aspects of human health.
Next up was the American Dental Association. In a talk with Dr. David Kennedy, a third generation dentist, ADA member, and former president of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, he explained some of the financial incentives behind the dental lobby’s unwavering support of fluoridation and how they leverage their member base which relies on them for licensing, to be one of the most powerful lobbying groups in American politics. The ADA is funded by industry, some of which have made billions of dollars off of fluoride. They are not a research organization and their own lawyers have argued that they owe no duty of care to the public, yet they promote fluoridation as if it’s their baby and they think their baby is the most beautiful, perfect baby in the world. If you take just one look at their news feed on fluoridation you will see what I mean.
We also had an episode on the Office of the Surgeon General. This is one of my favorite episodes in the series because the way politics corrupted the science on the safety of fluoride in this instance could not be more clear. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, we have an official transcript and a draft report from a panel of medical experts who recommended a certain enforceable limit for fluoride in drinking water, and then a final report from that same panel (along with some revealing letters from political appointees) that makes it sound like the medical experts recommended a limit twice as high as the one they agreed on. This is the same basic safety standard for fluoride that is in place in the United States to this day. All you need to do is compare these documents to see how politics blatantly corrupted the science on the safety of fluoride at the expense of the American public.
In addition to explaining how these public health organizations worked to conceal the negative health effects of fluoridation, in season one we also launched a sub-series called Stranger than Strangelove to tell some of the more overlooked aspects of the American fluoride tragedy. The first episode in the series, episode 6, focused on a secret government fluoridation experiment at mental institutions for children in Massachusetts in the 1940s and 1950s. In many ways, it paralleled similar government experiments that were widely exposed in the press involving the effects of radiation.
Then in episode 11, we covered the true story of how fluoride air pollution from two U.S. aluminum plants decimated the traditional way of life of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne—a Native American tribe bordering upstate New York and Ontario, Canada. The first thing they noticed was that the bees disappeared. Then the rabbits and pheasants went missing. Before long, that cows were walking on their elbows and lapping water like cats because their teeth were too disintegrated to drink properly. The science director of the tribe’s environmental department, Dr. Henry Lickers, explains how fluoride exposure harms more than just teeth and bones. Beyond fluoride’s effect on the individual level, it also impacts society as a whole.
A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics which we featured in episode 9 underscores this point. In the study, researchers concluded that prenatal exposure to fluoride lowers IQ. They found an effect comparable to what is seen with exposure to lead. As Henry Lickers pointed out, a population-wide shift in the IQ curve has a dramatic impact on a society. When you decrease the number of brilliant minds and increase those at the lower end of the spectrum, it puts a real strain on the community.
If we step back and look at fluoridation from a macro perspective, it is clear that the United States is in the middle of the biggest pollution scandal in American history. For almost 70 years, the U.S. federal government has been advising local towns to add fluoride air pollution to their public water supplies. These towns are literally buying hydrofluorosilicic acid—aka “fluoride”—directly from the smokestacks of phosphate fertilizer plants in central Florida. Peer-reviewed chemical analysis show that hydrofluorosilicic acid consistently contains a variety of other toxic natural contaminants in addition to fluoride, including arsenic, lead, and high amounts of aluminum.
Most dentists aren’t even aware that the type of fluoride added to water is hydrofluorosilicic acid. As you might recall from our introductory episode with Dr. Hardy Limeback, the former head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto and a past president of the Canadian Association of Dental Research, this was one of the red flags that initially prompted him to take a serious look at the toxicological studies on fluoride.
Dr. Limeback was at the height of his career in dentistry when he changed his mind on the safety of fluoridation. His colleagues and mentors advised him to keep quiet about it, but he refused. And he still refuses to be quiet about it. If you haven’t heard it already, I hope you’ll listen to that introductory episode with Dr. Limeback and then go follow him on Twitter. Even if you’re not on Twitter and you join solely to like and retweet everything Dr. Hardy Limeback says, it would be a worthwhile investment of your time just to help augment his voice through the Twittersphere. His username is @DrLimeback.
And while you’re there, please say hi to me too. My username is @MelissaGallico. You’ll find me there tweeting with the #Fpollution hashtag, trying to get the attention of journalists or celebrities or anyone who will help expose the pollution story behind fluoridation.
There is still so much of the story we have left to cover in future seasons, from deep dives into how fluoride effects specific aspects of health and the environment to the courageous tales of various hometown heroes who have worked or are in the process of working to end fluoridation in their communities. If you have a special request for a certain speaker or topic, reach out to me wherever… Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or you can contact me at Fpollution.com where you can also subscribe to my newsletter or join my studio on Patreon.
I hope this series has inspired you to action to help end fluoridation, in whatever form feels right to you. Because, as Henry Lickers put it, fluoridation is like a giant iron ball rolling down a hill. It only takes a small stone in its path to divert it in a completely new direction.
If you enjoyed this season of The #Fpollution Podcast, please subscribe and leave a review. It really helps other listeners find the show.
The #Fpollution podcast is a Linda Peterson production. This season was executive produced by Scott Cousland, Drew and Helen Jeter, Linda Palmisano, and Kristie Lavelle. Our production team is Angela Sparks, Anna Lytle, Carol Koff, Douglas Cragoe, Jennie Mintz, Julie Fletcher, David Cosentino, Khara Edler, Lacey Elliot, Madeleine Powley, Mary Byrne, Diane Sheats, and Taylor Swagert. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone in the crew for helping to get this podcast on the air. And for the rest of our listeners, it’s not too late to join. We are about to launch a YouTube series on fluoride toxicity and we could really use your support with that. To find out how you can join the crew at Gallico Studios on Patreon for as little as $1 a month, or to sign our petition to end fluoridation, visit our website at www.Fpollution.com. You can also go there for the t-shirt. 🙂
Thanks for listening. Now let's go do something about it.
*The information presented in this episode reflects the views and opinions of the host and guests invited to appear on the show. It is not intended as medical advice and does not represent the views of the FBI, the U. S. government, or any other individuals or organizations.
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