top of page


with Melissa Gallico


Author Melissa Gallico high res.jpg

Former FBI analyst and military intelligence officer, Melissa Gallico, uses historical, primary source documents to reveal the pollution story hiding at the root of artificial water fluoridation in the United States.

Ep3 with Melissa Gallico

The Pollution Story Behind Fluoridation (Part II)

Since the industrial revolution and the advent of large scale mining operations, man has been emitting unnatural amounts of toxic fluoride into the atmosphere. But airborne fluoride pollution reached a new height during the world wars, especially World War II when the U.S. military ordered nearly 300,000 aircraft made of aluminum and developed the atomic bomb. Drawing from historical primary source documents which she links to in the transcript below, Gallico argues that public water fluoridation is, at its heart, a pollution scandal—the biggest pollution scandal in American history.


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 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.

Here is the 1948 study of Alcoa factory workers featured at the end of this episode. Is it "one of the most significant of American documents of the essential harmlessness of exposure to and absorption of fluoride," as Kehoe claimed? Share your thoughts on social media using #Fpollution, or leave a comment below

Subscribe for new episodes on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | YouTube | RSS

More documents featured in this episode:


  1. Newspaper clipping from first pollution lawsuit over U. S. atomic bomb program

  2. Letter from Secretary of War about fluoride pollution lawsuit

  3. Letter from farmer about fluoride poisoning in farm workers

  4. Memo from meeting between corporate polluters, FDA, and military officials to conceal issue of fluoride-tainted produce

  5. Declassified memo showing fluoride testing of produce turned over to War Department for legal reasons

  6. Declassified memos from regular meetings with War Department, FDA, and corporate polluter

  7. Minutes from meeting of first water fluoridation experiment (chaired by War Department toxicologist)

  8. Article published in Chemical & Engineering News citing fluoride as cause of Donora air pollution tragedy

  9. Letters from industry scientist refuting claims of high fluoride in Donora victim's blood

  10. Confidential letter from industry scientist confirming high fluoride in Donora victim's blood

  11. Official USPHS report on Donora (omits fluoride blood results)

  12. Internal memo from meeting between USPHS Donora investigators and industry scientists

  13. Lead Donora investigator for USPHS quits to testify for corporate polluter in court

  14. Unpublished report from Donora follow-up study citing fluoride air pollution as cause of deaths

  15. Industry contracts to refute fluoride toxicity claims

  16. Premature USPHS endorsement of water fluoridation in 1950 buried in ADA journal (see page 93)

  17. Grand Rapids fluoridation experiment loses control city in 1951

  18. State dental directors urged to propagandize for fluoridation

  19. 1952 congressional hearings on fluoridation

  20. 1954 congressional hearings on fluoridation

  21. Chapter in 1972 USDA handbook on fluoride air pollution

  22. Examples of fluoride air pollution lawsuits (Exhibit A, B, C, D)

  23. First personal injury lawsuit over fluoride air pollution

  24. Appeals brief arguing importance of fluoride air pollution for national security

  25. Friend of the court brief from other corporate polluters

  26. Dental propaganda used to demonstrate safety of chronic fluoride exposure in court

  27. Evidence of collusion between USPHS dentists and corporate legal teams to defeat Martin lawsuit (Exhibit A, B, C)

  28. Corporate polluters form "Fluorine Lawyers Group" to refute claims of fluoride toxicity

  29. Fluorine Lawyers Group appoints committee to direct university research programs on fluoride toxicity

  30. Unpublished study on soft tissue damage from fluoride in 48 beagle dogs

  31. Letters from Edward Bernays on using propaganda to manipulate the public into accepting fluoridation (Exhibit A, B, C)

  32. Letter from EPA official confirming the fluoride added to water is pollution byproduct of fertilizer manufacturing

  33. 1972 EPA report on fluoride air pollution

  34. 1977 congressional hearings on fluoridation

  35. Petition to end fluoridation

  36. Join Gallico Studios on Patreon



This podcast is produced by Gallico Studios, a multimedia effort supported by a community of activists who share the goal of ending artificial water fluoridation. To join the studio or learn more, visit our website at

Melissa Gallico: Welcome to the #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.

In the season premier last week, I explained the genesis of the pollution story hiding at the heart of artificial water fluoridation in the United States, beginning in the early 1900s when corporate polluters first observed the effects of industrial fluoride poisoning in their factory workers. Drawing on historical, primary source documents that are available for anyone to view in the show notes on this page, it becomes clear that the story of fluoridation currently told on the National Institute of Health’s website is a myth. Lurking between the lines of the official story of fluoridation is a much harsher reality: that artificial water fluoridation is a pollution scandal—the biggest pollution scandal in American history.

Since the industrial revolution and the advent of large scale mining operations, man has been emitting unnatural amounts of toxic fluoride into the atmosphere. But airborne fluoride pollution reached a new height during the world wars, especially World War II when the U.S. military ordered nearly 300,000 aircraft made of aluminum and developed the atomic bomb. The aluminum industry is one of the leading offenders with regard to fluoride pollution, and the atomic bomb is produced with large amounts of uranium hexafluoride, a chemical colloquially known in the nuclear industry as “hex.”

When it came time for industry to pay the price for their fluoride pollution during World War II, corporate lawyers had more than just money on their side. They also had the United States government.

A few months after the war ended, the first lawsuit against the atomic bomb program was filed by farmers in New Jersey. The suit was over several orchards of peach trees they claim were ruined by fluoride air pollution emitting from a local DuPont chemical plant used to enrich uranium. The peaches were their prized cash crop, valued at $400,000 and destined for top buyers like the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. In a news article clipping from a local paper (I’ll link to it in the show notes) the farmer’s lawyer explains that they tried to keep their complaints quiet during the war out of a sense of patriotic duty since the atomic bomb program was not yet made public. But when they asked DuPont in confidence to curb the amount of fluoride emitting from their smokestacks, the government responded by sending a counter-espionage agent.

The Army’s interest in the peach crop case went all the way up to the Secretary of War himself, Henry L. Stimson, who wrote this letter on July 13, 1945 to the Secretary of Agriculture, Claude Wickard, asking his department to assist with investigating the farmers’ claims which he points out “involve major sums which the United States would have to pay ultimately, if it should be found that the du Pont Company’s operations for the Government were the cause of the damage."

The farmers waited until after the war to file their lawsuit and they only sued for the loss of their peach trees, but that wasn’t the extent of the damage. Here is a letter written by one of the farmers, Willard Kille, on February 2, 1946 to Major General Leslie R. Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project. The letter reads,

“Dear Sir,

I am informed that you have knowledge of a satisfactory course for one to pursue who has been injured by fluorine either from fumes or because of eating foods high in fluorine content.

I have been informed by Dr. Garfield Duncan 330 209th St Phila. Pa that I have had one or more acute attacks of Fluorine Intoxication but do not as yet have Chronic Fluorine Poisoning. Other folks here are having difficulty also as enclosed blood analysis will indicate. Any suggestions from you will be appreciated.

Yours truly,
Willard B. Kille”

A month later, Major General Groves responds and says he doesn’t have any additional information about the treatment of fluorine poisoning but is eager to help and will “do everything within our power which is consistent with requirements of military security and the protection of the interests of the government…”

General Groves did not mention that in the days after he received the letter from Willard Kille, his personnel arranged a meeting with representative from DuPont and the Food and Drug Administration to quell the FDA’s investigation into the high amounts of fluoride they measured on produce grown on farms surrounding DuPont’s New Jersey plant. As this government memo from the meeting illustrates, Dupont officials argued that “in view of the pending suits filed by owners of peach orchards, any action by the Food and Drug Administration condemning or contrabanding vegetable produce grown in that part of New Jersey would have a serious effect on the du Pont company and would create a bad public relations situation…” DuPont was careful not to admit culpability for the fluoride found on the produce but nevertheless claimed to be taking steps to eliminate entirely the “small amount” of fluoride currently being discharged into the atmosphere.

The FDA official at the meeting assured DuPont that his agency was not interested in determining the source of the fluorine contamination but only its presence and amount on produce which might be shipped in interstate commerce. Afterwards, a military representative from the Manhattan Project impressed upon the FDA official the “substantial interest which the Government had in claims which might arise as a result of action which might be taken by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Ultimately, the FDA chose not to place an embargo on the fluoride-tainted produce from New Jersey, and the task of testing for fluoride was turned over to the Chemical Warfare Service, as shown in this declassified memo written by General Groves who argued that the military’s measurements would carry more weight in a court of law.

The medical aspect of the investigation went to the Manhattan Project’s Medical Research Section run by Colonel Stafford Warren, a military physician we met in the previous episode. The work was led by the section’s chief pharmacologist, a man named Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester. Today, Hodge is best known as the mastermind behind a chilling series of experiments conducted on unwitting Americans who were injected with varying doses of uranium and plutonium to determine the effects of radiation on human health. The story was exposed by a journalist named Eileen Welsome in her 1999 book, The Plutonium Files, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize.

At the same time Hodge was trying to determine the health effects of uranium and plutonium, he was also actively involved in studying the toxicology of fluoride. Here you can see a series of declassified memos detailing Hodge’s regular meetings with DuPont, the Chemical Warfare Service, the FDA, and others involved in the peach crop case. The men identify four distinct problems: 1) injury to the peach crop, 2) the “extraordinary” fluoride content of vegetables grown in the area, 3) the “abnormally high” amounts of fluoride in blood of humans residing in the area, and 4) the “serious poisoning” of horses and cattle.

It is clear from these memos that the efforts of the government-sponsored researchers are focused on exculpating Dupont. The very first question asked is if it was possible to demonstrate the amount of fluoride in the air was insufficient to damage the peaches. They discuss blaming it on sulphur or at the very least conducting research to show DuPont wasn’t the only factory emitting high amounts of fluoride in the region. In the notes from one of the meetings, Hodge ends his memo with a question, “Would there be any use in making attempts to counteract the local fear of fluoride on the part of residents of Salem and Gloucester counties through lectures on fluoride toxicology and perhaps the usefulness of fluoride in tooth health?”

Harold Hodge’s work on fluoride toxicity wasn’t restricted to the Manhattan Project. At the end of last week’s episode, we talked about a meeting in New York City in 1944 where officials voted to start the first trial of artificial water fluoridation in the city of Newburgh, NY—the one where H. Trendley Dean, the public health official whom the National Institute of Health claims was the driving force behind the first fluoridation trials actually argued against it because of all the evidence of harm from fluoride. The declassified minutes from that meeting reveal the chair person was Harold Hodge, the chief pharmacologist for the Medical Research Section of the Manhattan Project.

Now, why was the chief toxicologist for the Manhattan Project chairing a local meeting to approve the first government fluoridation trial in the United States—a toxicologist whose job was biased towards finding evidence of fluoride’s safety to defend industry polluters in lawsuits?

Here is a declassified document that provides a summary of the University of Rochester’s Atomic Energy Project in 1948. On page 98 you will see a description of “Program F. Fluoride. Problem Code: F.4 (Fate)… To supply evidence useful in the litigation arising from an alleged loss of a fruit crop several years ago…” From the opening sentence it is clear the entire purpose of the government-sponsored program is to gather scientific evidence to defend against lawsuits over fluoride poisoning.

While DuPont had the weight of the U.S. government in its corner, the scientific evidence for the farmers was gathered predominantly by a man named Philip Sadtler, a Philadelphia chemist with an impeccable pedigree. His grandfather was a founding member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and his father one of the original editors of Chemical Abstracts, a respected periodical in the chemistry world. It was Sadtler who first identified the high fluoride content in produce grown near the plant, prompting the FDA to consider the proposed embargo on its sale across state lines.

Most of the New Jersey farmers ended up settling with DuPont for small amounts out of court, but Sadtler began investigating other cases of fluoride pollution after the war and concluded the damage was common and widespread. He was working with a group of farmers in Florida whose crops were damaged by fluoride emitting from nearby phosphate fertilizer plants when a small town in western Pennsylvania experienced the worst air pollution tragedy in American history: the Donora smog of 1948.

Twenty people were killed and hundreds more suffered from respiratory or cardiac conditions when a heavy fog trapped air pollution emitting from local factories in the towns of Donora and nearby Webster. The tragedy had all the signs of fluoride toxicity. The farmers in Florida implored Sadtler to study the incident and not let government investigators gloss over the role of fluoride, as had been done with the official report for a similar air pollution disaster that occurred in Belgium the decade prior, as discussed in our previous episode.

The Borough of Donora Council voted unanimously to allow Sadtler to investigate the cause of the tragedy. Here is his official report to the council, in which he concluded the deadly smog was caused by fluoride fumes released from the zinc furnaces at a plant run by the U. S. Steel Corporation. The furnaces didn’t have any safety mechanisms to collect fluorine gases. The smokestacks bellowed fumes a mere 60 feet above the ground, and Satdler included a picture to show that even more fumes were released by the furnaces at ground level. He writes, “These gases have been analyzed and found to contain sufficient fluorine to kill small animals in 8 hours and probably humans in 8 hours. This should have been known by the mill management as they should have noticed that they killed the vegetation years ago. When the gases given off by the zinc mill became so bad that the superintendent could not live in the house where the superintendent formerly lived, the company did or should have had the gases analyzed. The presence of fluorine should have made the company correct its ways. When the mill superintendent could not live in his fine house he should have applied the golden rule and realized that the neighbors also did not thrive under the fumes. The mill should have realized that if vegetation were killed the fumes were injuring the health.”

Sadtler’s conclusions were published in this article on December 13, 1948 in Chemical and Engineering News with the headline “Fluorine gases in atmosphere as industrial waste blamed for death and chronic poisoning of Donora and Webster, Pa., inhabitants.” 

Industry scientists were outraged that Sadtler identified fluoride as the culprit in the Donora deaths. The editor of Chemical and Engineering News soon received this angry letter from Robert Kehoe, the director of the Kettering Laboratory whom we met in the series premier last week. He’s the industry toxicologist who built his career on his adamant defense of the safety of leaded gasoline. In his letter about Sadtler’s fluoride theory, dated December 22, 1948, Kehoe writes, “That the issue should be confused, at this time, by wholly unwarranted statements, is a great disadvantage to everybody, and not least to the families and friends of the unfortunate victims.” He doesn’t mention that the research at his laboratory is funded by a long list of corporate polluters whose contracts focus specifically on the toxicity of fluoride.

Here is an 89-page document that includes Kettering contracts with a number of these industry polluters around this exact time period, including U. S. Steel who was suspect number one in the Donora tragedy, as well as Alcoa, the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company, Tennessee Valley Authority, Harshaw Chemical Company, Universal Oil Products, Reynolds Metals, Kaiser Aluminum, and Monsanto. Each of these contracts is for Kettering to study the effects of fluoride in humans. The standard contract is, “to investigate the behavior of fluorine or fluorine compounds in the human organism, particularly the following points: (a) Whether or not an alleged ailment is due to fluorine or fluorine compounds, and (b) To differentiate between safe and unsafe degrees of absorption of or exposure to fluorine or fluorine compounds.”

Because of its historical significance, I’ll also include the contract Kehoe signed around this same time with a Swiss company to study the toxicity of a new insecticide they were just about to introduce to the U. S. market called dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane—DDT.

In Kehoe’s letter to the editor of Chemical and Engineering News contesting Philip Sadtler’s conclusion that the Donora tragedy was caused by fluoride air pollution, Kehoe takes particular exception to Sadtler’s claim that an abnormally high concentration of fluoride was found in the victims’ blood. He writes, “The analysis of the blood for fluorine is a very difficult procedure, and even under conditions of severe exposure the concentration of fluorine in the blood is quite low. My associates and I believe that no such results as have been reported here are possible of achievement, and therefore we regard the entire story as a deliberate lie or as an irresponsible expression of technical ignorance or incompetence.”

A few weeks later, Kehoe receives this reply from the executive editor of Chemical and Engineering News, James Crowe, who states that Sadtler offered to have public health agencies check his analytic methods on the blood analysis but they were uncooperative. He then writes, “It seems to me that this is one point, at least, where scientific methods could be checked and agreement reached on whether the various results are or are not accurate.”

Kehoe responds by spending a lot of time disparaging Sadtler’s reputation and then writes, “The statements of Mr. Stadtler [yes, he even misspells his name here] in this instance are precisely like those he has made in a number of other situations, and they are so palpably untrue that it is not even worth while to check up on them.”

What Kehoe doesn’t tell Crowe is that, in the time between writing these two letters, his lab verified the abnormally high level of fluoride Sadtler correctly measured in the victim’s blood. Here is a record of the results sent to the Kettering laboratory on December 30, 1948 from the chief chemist of the Aluminum Company of America, our old friend H. V. Churchill. It’s written on Alcoa letterhead and marked Confidential. Churchill explains, “A few days ago, [Alcoa’s medical director] suggested that we analyze the sample of blood for fluorine content, and we have just completed that analysis. The sample was received by us and contains 20.3 ppm fluoride.” The number is underlined. According to research at the University of Rochester, the generally accepted average serum fluoride value is 0.15 ppm or possibly even much lower. The amount Alcoa scientists secretly measured in the blood of the Donora victim was over a hundred times that amount, a result Kehoe claimed was so “palpably untrue” that it wasn’t even worth checking up on.

The farmers in Florida were right, too. The official federal report of the Donora smog disaster failed to identify any particular chemical as the culprit. Instead, as you can see for yourself in the copy provided in the show notes, it was very carefully worded to avoid casting blame on any one industry and concluded it was likely a combination of factors that made the air that night so deadly. Fluoride was the first suspect the authors vindicated. They note that information gained from biological studies of dental caries, dental fluorosis, urinary excretion of fluoride, and fluoride content of bone revealed no evidence that there was excessive inhalation of fluoride. Yet they conveniently left out any analysis of fluoride levels in the blood which would have been a much more realistic indicator of acute fluoride toxicity than studies of cavities or dental fluorosis which was well established as a chronic condition caused by longterm over exposure to fluoride in childhood.

The federal investigators conclude their report with a slew of recommendations to basically reduce emissions of all possible pollution sources, including domestic heating systems, locomotives, and steamboats. Their final recommendation was to make weather forecasts more readily available so that, “adequate measures can be taken to protect the populace.”

Industry scientists worked closely with the government investigators who authored the final report on the Donora tragedy. In this undated memo to Kehoe, one of his researchers explains that Helmuth Schrenk, the lead Donora investigator for the U. S. Public Health Service, would be visiting on Monday to talk about the Donora project. He writes in literal Scooby-doo style,  “Cholak has all the dope necessary to make plans with Schrenk… I suggest that we stick to the plan already outlined to cooperate with them as far as possible but to refuse to make guesses. My assumption that it was a gas which was hydrolyzed in the lung and produced its pathology some little time after it was inspired is based on a very superficial check on the clinical picture as seen by two doctors and two patients and one posted case which may or may not be representative.”

It didn’t seem to take much effort to bring Schrenk to an industry-friendly perspective on what happened at Donora. Immediately after the report was released, Schrenk left his position in the government and took a job at the Mellon Institute where his expert testimony was made available to their client, U.S. Steel, in the lawsuits that soon followed over the deaths in Donora. Like the peach farmers in New Jersey, the Donora claims were settled out of court for relatively small amounts, and without U. S. Steel taking any responsibility for the deaths or guaranteeing measures to prevent future accidents. Here is a triumphant letter industry lawyers sent Kehoe on April 19, 1951. It reads, “Dear Dr. Kehoe: All the Donora smog cases represented by Mr. Margiotti have been settled for a lump sum of $265,000. Your valuable help in these cases is very much appreciated. We hope the litigation is finished for good.”

Almost a decade after the tragedy at Donora, an air pollution expert from the University of Pittsburgh named John Rumford took part in a follow-up investigation sponsored by the U. S. Public Health Service. Like Sadtler, Rumford’s analysis pointed to the culprit as fluoride air pollution emitting from the furnaces at the zinc factory. His work on this was never published, but here is a memo written by a chief statistician of the U. S. Air Pollution Medical Program documenting a presentation in which Rumford gave his conclusions. He identified a 5-block area surrounding the main contact point on the ground for fumes streaming from the open hearth. He took soil samples and measured 2,500 ppm fluoride, several magnitudes higher than samples from any other part of the city. Half the victims of the Donora tragedy came from this 5-block radius. Rumford also correlated the area with increased rates of rheumatism and arthritis, two symptoms of chronic fluoride poisoning.

In June 1950, just months after federal investigators worked with industry scientists to clear fluoride’s name in the Donora tragedy, officials from the U. S. Public Health Service made a surprising announcement. For the first time, the federal government “strongly encouraged” communities to add fluoride to their public water supplies as a way to prevent cavities in children.

There are a number of strange points to observe here. First, despite its significance, the announcement was made quietly in a news letter of the American Dental Association and then printed in their journal a few days later. You can see it here on page 93 alongside other routine dental news.  The headline reads “U.S.P.H.S. Recommends Public Water Fluoridation.” The historic announcement didn’t even garner a mention in their table of contents. As far as I can tell, the U. S. Public Health Service’s endorsement was made by Assistant Surgeon General Bruce Forsyth and printed solely in these ADA publications.

The American Dental Association had long been under the influence of industry scientists at this time, as demonstrated here by this extensive paper trail between ADA officials and Charles Kettering, the director of research for General Motors and the namesake of Kehoe’s lab at the University of Cincinnati. Kettering is credited with inventing freon refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbons (or CFCs), a fluoride-based chemical product widely banned in the 1980s because of their lasting effect on the environment. Kettering was also one of just three members of the American Dental Association’s Advisory Committee on Research on Dental Caries. He literally helped them write the book on cavities. You can see his name on the cover here.

The timing of the federal government’s endorsement of fluoridation in the ADA’s journal is also very suspicious. H. Trendley Dean’s grand fluoridation experiment for the U. S. Public Health Service in Grand Rapids, Michigan was only 5 years into its 15-year trial. Once the federal government encouraged cities to fluoridate, the control city soon started adding fluoride to their water supply too, making it impossible for Dean to compare any real difference in the rate of cavities caused by fluoride, let alone any long term adverse health effects.

The fact that the federal endorsement of fluoridation was made under the leadership of Oscar Ewing has not been lost on fluoride skeptics. Ewing was the political appointee chosen to head the Federal Security Agency over the Public Health Service in 1947. He was also a lawyer for Alcoa. According to this recorded interview he gave for the Harry S. Truman Library, Ewing spent World War II in Washington D.C. arranging government contracts to build aluminum smelters across the country.

Once the U. S. Public Health Service endorsed artificial water fluoridation, the practice quickly garnered weighty endorsements from other influential organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Research Council, the American Waterworks Association, and the American Medical Association. I’ll link to that last one in the show notes so you can see exactly how weak the AMA’s endorsement of fluoridation was in 1950. Basically, they write that their Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry and their Council on Food and Nutrition were asked to provide their opinion on the safety of fluoridation and they do not know of any evidence of harm.

But the most important endorsement for artificial water fluoridation came from the state and territorial dental directors at their third annual conference in Washington, D. C. The meeting was sponsored by the U. S. Public Health Service and the vote occurred the day before the announcement was printed in the ADA journal about the government’s endorsement of fluoridation. It is likely there was some kind of coordination there. The reason the endorsement of the state dental directors was so important is because that is how the practice of fluoridation physically spread to local communities throughout the country. When the state dental directors held their next annual meeting in 1951, the keynote speaker was the state dental director of Wisconsin, a leading promoter of artificial water fluoridation, who was brought in to teach the other state dental directors how to sell fluoride.

His name, and I promise I’m not making this up, was Dr. Bull, Frank Bull, and he had been pushing for the U. S. Public Health Service to endorse artificial water fluoridation since before Dean’s experiment in Grand Rapids even started. He had already demonstrated a considerable talent for selling fluoride in Wisconsin, even though an expert panel appointed by the mayor of Madison in 1946 recommended against fluoridation. The panel consisted of some of the most respected medical professionals in the state, including two doctors, two nutritionists, a biochemist, a bacteriologist, two dentists, and a pediatrician, but Bull and his team of enthusiastic government dentists convinced the city council to start fluoridation anyway.

I’ll link to the transcript of Dr. Bull’s presentation to the state dental directors in the show notes. It’s worth reading because it shows how fluoridation was implemented at the local level, in spite of the lack of a broad scientific consensus regarding fluoride’s safety. It was because of the influential role of the state dental directors.

Bull addresses this lack of consensus and the fact that the federal government had suddenly switched sides. He says, “We are going to have to face it, we are going to have to live down for quite a while some of the things we have been saying the last three or four years with regard to fluoridation. You heard Dr. Scheele say something about the fact that the Public Health Service’s attitude had changed. Well, you know a lot of letters have been going back and forth, and a lot of this stuff is in print….  These fellows can just take the statements from the American Dental Association or the U. S. Public Health Service or the deans of dental schools or research workers around the country, and they can prove to you that we are absolutely crazy for even thinking about fluoridation.”  

When a dentist from Texas asks Bull how to respond to claims that a research project from the University of Texas showed evidence fluoride causes cancer in mice. Bull responds he wishes he knew the answer, but at least they didn’t bring up the fact that two-thirds of the deans at university dental schools think fluoride is rat poison and should not be used. “I think you are fortunate you have only got that one thing,” Bull says, “because we have had many more. We have had some of that kind of help from the higher levels. But that is just one of those things.”

Bull explains to the state dental directors how to sell fluoridation to local cities in spite of the lack of scientific consensus on its safety. He tells them they need a strongly worded policy on fluoridation from the state dental society and the state board of health. “Don’t put any ifs, ands or buts in the thing, because the minute you do that you kill it.” He tells them to set up a state fluoride committee and explains how to win over the media and public officials and the PTA. “Let me tell you the PTA is a honey when it comes to fluoridation. Give them all you’ve got.”

Don’t call it sodium fluoride, he says. That’s rat poison. Just call it fluoride. Don’t say it’s artificial. “There is something about that term that means a phony.” And incidentally, “we never had any ‘experiments’ in Wisconsin. To take a city of 100,000 and say, ‘We are going to experiment on you, and if you survive we will learn something,’ —that is kind of rough treatment on the public. In Wisconsin, we set up demonstrations. They weren’t experiments.”

And if the question of toxicity comes up, Bull advises, “you just lay off it altogether. Just pass it over.” You say, “We know there is absolutely no effect other than reducing tooth decay” and move on.

As this conference demonstrates, the concept of artificial water fluoridation was firmly accepted by federal health officials and organized dentistry by 1951 despite the lack of scientific consensus proving its safety. In 1952, Congress held its first round of congressional hearings on fluoridation. Federal public health officials were questioned by attorney Vincent Kleinfeld, a longtime expert in food and drug law and Special Assistant to the Attorney General. I’ll link to the transcript in the show notes. The part about fluoridation begins on page 1,483.

Kleinfeld begins by questioning the endorsements federal officials were leveraging to convince the public that fluoridation is safe. He also brings up statements from organizations that do not support the practice and grills federal health officials on their concerns. Did they conduct studies of how fluoridation affects the elderly or people with impaired kidney function or children suffering from malnutrition? No. What about follow-up studies on the research that suggests fluoride accelerates the appearance of cancer tumors? No. Wouldn’t it be wise to study the effect of fluoride on pregnant women, especially considering the guidance from the Department of Agriculture that fluoridated water not be given to pregnant pigs? They didn’t have funding for that. And why did the U. S. Public Health Service refuse to endorse fluoridation in 1949 but “unequivocally” endorsed it in 1950, several years before the trials in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Newburgh, New York were scheduled to be completed. “What is the hurry about adding fluorine to water?” wondered Congressman Arthur Miller, a medical doctor and the former state health director of Nebraska.

In addition to federal health officials, the committee also heard from a variety of expert witnesses who warned under oath that the federal government was premature in endorsing fluoridation and that the extreme toxicity of fluoride warranted much more detailed study. Their testimony included that of a nutritionist from MIT, a cancer researcher from the University of Texas, a biochemist from the University of Wisconsin, the director of clinical research at Forsyth Dental Infirmary in Boston, a dental researcher at Columbia University, and Dr. Margaret Smith and her husband Howard, the nutritionist team from the University of Arizona who first discovered fluoride’s effect on tooth enamel.

After the hearing, Congress issued a report warning local communities to go slow with fluoridation. Within months, Congressman Roy Weir from Minnesota introduced H. R. 2341, a bill to ban any government body from adding fluoride to water supplies used by hospitals, post offices, military bases, or other public installations. The bill was brought to a hearing and Representative Weir introduced it by stating, “During my 6 years here, Mr. Chairman, I have received more mail and communications and material for the bill now before you than on any other subject or issue pending in the Congress… the Federal Government—and I say Federal Government because here a Federal agency seems to be the center of the sponsorship of fluoridation, and so my criticism would be leveled at the lack of caution with which that agency has moved in this field.”

The fluoridation hearings in 1954 had a different tone than the previous hearings. Claude Palmer of the National Committee Against Fluoridation was the first to speak in support of the bill. He points out that many of the scientific experts who spoke bitterly against fluoridation two years prior were now unavailable to testify before Congress, and that many of them worked for research institutions dependent on grants from the U. S. Public Health Service which was recently given the power to dole out significant financial funds to researchers aligned with their objectives. Palmer tactfully explains that while, personally, no pressure may have been brought, the decision not to appear may be inspired by a wish not to offend the United States Public Health Service.

Interspersed between testimony from housewives, Christian scientists, and yes, the occasional witness who claims the federal government is part of a communist plot to destroy America, the committee hears strong warnings about fluoridation from medical experts, like Charles Brusch, the director of Cambridge Medical Center. They received written statements from scientists across the country, like George Waldbott, an allergist who a few years prior documented the first death from penicillin ever reported in the literature. “Since that time,” Waldbott explains, “nearly every general practitioner, certainly every allergist, has observed serious reactions, near reactions, and even deaths from this drug… I predict that once the first fluorine death is reported, others will be recognized in rapid succession.”

The committee also hears from Frederick Exner, a radiologist from Seattle who, along with Waldbott, went on to become one of the leading opponents of fluoridation in the next decade and beyond. It would be a few more years before Exner would start to figure out the complex financial motives behind big industry’s interest in promoting fluoridation, but he implored members of the committee to look past the long list of endorsements and bold assurances from public health officials like H. Trendley Dean on the safety of fluoridation and instead, scrutinize their scientific evidence.

Exner asserts that Dean’s attempt to proclaim water with 1 ppm safe but 2 ppm excessive is “just plain silly.” Everyone drinks different amounts of water and consumes varying levels of fluoride in their diet. Exner argues, “It is clear that one may easily get 10 times as much fluoride as the other… Yet such is the basic postulate on which the case for fluoridation stands or falls.” He identifies glaring holes in Dean’s epidemiological studies and states, “There are other reasons why most of these experiments will never prove anything. They were not designed to ascertain facts, but to prove a point.”  

But why? That was the question Exner or any of the other witnesses opposed to fluoridation were not able to answer at that hearing.

Congressman John Bell Williams from Mississippi tries to get at the heart of the matter when he asks another fluoride opponent, Max Ginns, the chief dentist at Worcester City Hospital, “What is to be gained by those who seek to have the water so treated, perhaps, other than a sincere desire to improve the health of the public?… Is the profit motive involved in any way?”

“Yes,” Ginns replies. “I do not want to mention names. Perhaps I will stay away from that. But Oscar Ewing was chief of the [Federal Security Agency] at the time he was chief counsel of the Aluminum Company of America. It seems to stem from there.”

The congressman presses Ginns further. “My question is this,” he says. “Does this argument stem primarily from [an honest disagreement among men of medicine], or does it go deeper and have its roots in some mercenary consideration of some selfish interest group of some kind?”

Ginns responds, “I think it is both, perhaps. It has a mercenary background and it seems to be a blunder on the part of certain men who will not admit that they are wrong.”

Again, the congressman asks, but “Who would profit from adding fluoridation to the water?”  Ginns brings up the millions of dollars the federal government allotted for its fluoridation program. He mentions the sale of equipment, the cost of the chemicals which jumped in price, the maintenance bureaus, the statistical bureaus, a “whole rigamarole of bureaus… it certainly runs into money,” he says.

The financial motive that Ginns didn’t mention, which even Exner would not begin to understand until three years later, can be found in the testimony of the proponents of fluoridation that followed. In addition to appearances by H. Trendley Dean and a slew of federal public health officials, congress hears from Francis Heyroth, assistant director of the Kettering Laboratory.

Heyroth notes that in addition to his job at Kettering, he is also a member of the Cincinnati Board of Health. The board asked him for his opinion on the advisability of fluoridation and after reviewing the data of the Kettering laboratory, he advised the city to implement the practice. Heyroth assures the congressmen—as he did with the Cincinnati Board of Health—that Kettering’s longterm studies of fluoride’s effect on factory workers was evidence of the safety of fluoridation.

When one of the congressman asks how the hazard of industrial fluoride poisoning came to be recognized, Heyroth explains that Kettering’s work on fluoride began “more than 20 years ago shortly after fluorosis became recognized in Denmark as an occupational abnormality… Our goal was to determine the maximum amount that a workman might absorb daily into his tissues without storing too much in his bones.”

Another congressman, Thomas Pelly, asks Heyroth for more details about the health effects of fluoride poisoning experienced by the Danish workers. Heyroth replies. “Yes; there were very elaborate studies, but I do not recall them at the moment. There was a monograph, a very large book written on the subject of fluoride intoxication by Dr. Tirhom, now dead, who conducted that work.”

The book he was referring to here is Fluorine Intoxication by Kaj Roholm. We talked about it in last week’s episode. I’ll link to it again in the notes. Roholm found that over 80 percent of the workers he studied suffered from debilitating changes in bone structure, a condition called osteosclerosis, and asserted that chronic fluoride intoxication should be recognized as an occupational disease calling for compensation. In addition, as you recall, Roholm claimed industrial fluoride emissions was the cause of the pollution tragedy in the Meuse Valley in Belgium, and he concluded the final chapter of his book with an emphatic warning that not only is fluoride unnecessary for healthy tooth enamel, but that teeth are particularly susceptible to damage from fluoride poisoning.

And yet, when Congressman Pelly asks Dr. Heyroth under oath about Roholm’s final analysis, the Kettering scientist responds, “[T]here was no one particular sign of illness that characterized the working population of that factory other than this incidental and unexpected finding of an increased density in the shadows of the bone in the X-rays.”
I am highlighting this exchange because it is a clear illustration of precisely how industry’s interest in concealing the adverse health effects of fluoride impacted government policy on fluoridation at the federal and local levels. The grand conspiracy behind public water fluoridation wasn’t conducted by a sinister assortment of greedy men who sat in a room and strategized how to poison the American people so they could get away with their precious fluoride scheme. It was much more nuanced—and insidious—than that. A suggestion here. An omission there. And a serious amount of money devoted to cultivating over decades an extensive body of scientific literature and a cadre of well-positioned experts who, most likely, genuinely believed that a relatively small amount of fluoride, a natural element already consumed by thousands of people across the country, is harmless. Just like lead was so harmless that we put it in paint to make pretty colors, and mercury was so harmless that we used it in fashion to make pretty hats. It took decades for scientists to correct these mistakes while everyday people suffered the consequences.

Congressman Weir’s bill to ban fluoridation was never passed. In addition to opposition from the U. S. Public Health Service, the bill also became an issue of state’s rights. What right do politicians in Washington have to tell state or local officials whether they can or cannot add fluoride to their public water supply?

But even without a ban from Congress, fluoridationists continued to struggle to get the practice accepted by the public. When the issue was brought to a referendum, most cities voted overwhelmingly against adding fluoride to their water supplies. That’s why Frank Bull advised the state dental directors, “If you can—I say if you can, because five times we have not been able to do it—keep fluoridation from going to a referendum… If we get public health by referendum, God help us…”

As fluoride took a beating in the court of public opinion in the 1950s, it also was losing in the court of law as more people started to become aware of fluoride air pollution and its health effects. Here is a government handbook on air pollution written by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The chapter on fluoride begins with a simple statement of fact: “Airborne fluorides have caused more worldwide damage to domestic animals than any other air pollutant.” Vegetation is also widely affected by fluoride poisoning. As one industry researcher, Leonard Weinstein of Cornell University stated, “Certainly there has been more litigation on alleged damage to agriculture by fluoride than all other pollutants combined.” I’ll list just a few of the lawsuits here and link to newspaper clippings and court rulings in the show notes so you can see for yourself that these cases were indeed over fluoride air pollution.

Here are court documents showing Julius and Evelyn Lampert of Troutdale, Oregon were awarded damages from Reynolds Metals for fluoride burns to their gladiolus crops. Warren and May Meader in Pocatello, Idaho won over $60,000 for damage to their trout farm and fish hatchery. Here is a newspaper clipping showing Alcoa lost a case in Vancouver to cattleman William Fraser, while a nearby Reynolds plant was facing a similar lawsuit brought by 20 local farmers for $4 million.  In Utah, U. S. Steel settled claims with farmers for $4.5 million and spent another $9 million on special equipment to filter future fluoride emissions from their smokestacks. A spokesperson for U. S. Steel—the same company implicated at Donora almost ten years prior—claimed the fluoride problem was “entirely new to the steel industry” and he attributed the cause to certain properties in Utah raw materials which apparently are not found in similar raw materials elsewhere.

Now, these cases were all about damage to livestock and fish hatcheries and gladiolus crops. But the lawsuit that Paul and Verla Martin won against Reynolds Metals in 1955 for $38,000 was different. This case was the first time it was proven in a court of law in the United States that fluoride air pollution affects human health. The Martins argued that fluoride from Reynolds’ smokestacks accumulated on the food they ate from their farm and caused a number of health conditions, including bone and joint issues, liver impairment, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, and hypothyroidism in their young daughter, Paula.

Reynolds’ lawyers tried in vain to maintain the mirage that fluoride air pollution is harmless to humans. They argued that the same exact aluminum plant was run by Alcoa during the war without any fume control whatsoever, and yet no one complained about fluoride poisoning then. Similar plants had been operating for half a century without a single legal claim that fluoride air pollution could cause personal injury. Robert Kehoe testified that in his extensive studies of factory employees who work with fluoride in various industries, he had never once known of a man disabled by excess fluoride. But the jury was swayed by a surprise witness flown in from England for the prosecution, Dr. Donald Hunter a senior physician at the London Hospital who studied the effects of fluoride pollution around an aluminum plant in Scotland.

Reynolds’ lawyers immediately appealed the decision. I’ll link to their brief here and read a few lines because it explains exactly why industry was so afraid of fluoride lawsuits, and how they used public water fluoridation as a shield in court. The brief begins, “This is a case of great national importance…. This is the first case in the history of the country in which an aluminum company has been alleged to have caused injuries to a human being through the emission of fluorine compounds from its plant… Fluorine compounds are present in small concentrations everywhere in nature… In many cities fluorides are deliberately added to the drinking water because of their supposed beneficial effect upon the teeth… In small enough concentrations they are entirely harmless. This fact is not disputed. Commercial production of aluminum is impossible without the emission of slight concentrations of fluoride in the form of gases, fumes, and particulates… Aluminum is vital to our national security. A court should be loathe to adopt principles of law which would, in effect, make every aluminum plant liable for the unexplained miscellaneous ailments of the population for miles around. The injustice and the colossal burden of such a liability are apparent. This, however, is the burden which the Court below has imposed…”

Because of the significance of the case, several of Reynolds’ competitors in the aluminum industry along with other fluoride-focused companies like Monsanto filed a friends of the court brief to support Reynolds’ argument in the case. As you can see, for evidence of fluoride’s safety, the brief relies almost entirely on studies from the Kettering laboratory, the government report on Donora, a report from the Public Health Service about excess fluoride in the water supply, and a publication called “Our Children’s Teeth” designed to promote the practice of artificial water fluoridation in New York and in which can be found “the 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.”

Reynolds’ lawyers also received direct pro-bono assistance during the trial from government dentists at the United States Public Health Service. Here is a letter to Kehoe from one of the attorneys dated March 15, 1956 in which the attorney refers to a long distance telephone conversation that occurred “while I was engaged in the trial of the Martin personal injury case” with Dr. Nicholas C. Leone, the chief of medical investigations at the National Institute of Dental Research. Apparently, they discussed Dr. Leone’s study on human populations exposed to high fluoride in domestic water.

Here’s a letter written by Dr. Leone himself to Alcoa’s chief medical director, Dudley Irwin. Leone includes a long list of the agency’s fluoride studies currently in progress and gives his permission to share the information with industry lawyers on a “confidential basis.” Irwin forwards the list to Frank Seamans and says, “I have reason to believe the results of these investigations will show no evidence of deleterious effects due to fluoride absorption. The publication of these results will be a very worthwhile contribution.”

And if that wasn’t enough evidence for you of outright collusion between public health dentists at the National Institute of Health and industrial fluoride polluters, how about this. Less than a month after the appeals court made its decision, industry scientists met with federal government dentists in a private meeting on May 20, 1957 to plan their next steps.

Here are Robert Kehoe’s handwritten notes from that meeting, as found in the Robert A. Kehoe Archival Collection, Box 63, at the University of Cincinnati’s Health Sciences Library by Christopher Bryson, a former BBC journalist who wrote about the pollution story behind fluoridation in his 2006 book, The Fluoride Deception. The meeting was attended by Kehoe, Dudley Irwin (the medical director for Alcoa), Nicholas Leone (the head of medical investigation at the National Institute of Dental Research), and Francis Arnold, the director of the National Institute of Dental Research who succeeded H. Trendley Dean.[46] Kehoe’s notes document the discussion in true Bridget Jones’ style. He writes:

“Purpose of meeting—relatively confidential discussion of the issues
Announcement of the decision of the Court of Appeals in the Martin vs Reynolds [case]
Discussion of the significance of the Martin case in relation to the community problems of air pollution, water pollution and food contamination and the position occupied by industry in creating a new environment characterized by potential hazard to the public health.
The need for research of a basic type to establish the facts on which medical opinion can be based so that irresponsible medical testimony will be discouraged.”


Creating the so-called science that fluoridationists depend on to claim that water fluoridation is safe was a business. Robert Kehoe was not a good toxicologist, but he was a good businessman. Despite his client losing the Martin trial, he saw the defeat as an opportunity. Here is the paper trail for a memo Kehoe wrote after the trial outlining the present status and future needs with respect to information on the behavior of fluoride in the animal organism. He sends the memo to all the lawyers of the biggest fluoride polluters. They had started to hold meetings to coordinate their response to the existential legal threat industry was facing over fluoride pollution. They called themselves the Fluorine Lawyers’ Group and as you can see, they readily signed annual contracts with Kettering to jointly finance the research needed to prove in a court of law that chronic exposure to low doses of fluoride is safe.

The Fluorine Lawyers Group was led by Alcoa’s head fluoride litigator, Frank Seamans. They appointed a Medical Advisory Committee led by Dudley Irwin, Alcoa’s Medical Director, to act as a liaison with the researchers at Kettering and ensure industry’s interest was well served. Here is a letter from Frank Seamans to the other Fluorine Lawyers entitled “Kettering Research re Human Beings” that includes a memo he sent to the Medical Advisory Committee to “more specifically advise just what the lawyers’ group wishes them to do.”

And here is a letter from a Kettering scientist to the lawyers’ Medical Advisory Committee detailing the results of their study designed specifically to disprove the claims of fluoride toxicity made at the Martin trial. The researchers put 48 beagle dogs in a fluoridated gas chamber and killed them at various intervals to dissect their lung tissue. All the dogs showed “pulmonary pathology consisting of lesions of granulomatous type, scattered widely throughout the lung parenchyma, and associated with marked enlargement of the thoracic lymph nodes. These lesions were grossly visible in all instances and were associated with areas of frank consolidation, emphysema, and fibrosis in the animals exposed for the longest periods.” Kettering scientists at the University of Cincinnati never published this study but Christopher Bryson, author of The Fluoride Deception, found it in box 42 of the Kehoe archive at the university’s health sciences library.

At this point in our story, it’s 1960 and the general public sentiment about fluoride is starting to shift, not because of any new scientific breakthroughs but because of millions of dollars in advertising. A new toothpaste called Fluoristan hit the market in 1955 and steadily gained popularity. It was renamed Crest with fluoristan and in 1958 alone, Proctor & Gamble spent $1.6 million on a wildly successful ad campaign featuring Norman Rockwell paintings of smiling children free of cavities thanks to fluoride. After the American Dental Association endorsed fluoridated Crest toothpaste in 1960 as the only toothpaste proven to prevent cavities, Proctor & Gamble seized more than thirty percent of the market and spent over $10 million a year advertising the cavity-fighting effects of fluoride.

1960 was the same year fluoridationists received some help from the father of public relations himself—or at least that’s how the New York Times described him in his obituary—Edward Bernays. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and he applied many of Freud’s insights in psychology to the field of public relations. He ran a consulting firm out of New York City and believed that if you could get an idea accepted there, it would quickly spread to the rest of the country. In his book, Propaganda, Bernays explains how politicians, businessmen, and other influential thought leaders can use the instrument of propaganda to mold and form the will of the people. He’s most famous for his work with the tobacco industry to make cigarette smoking socially acceptable for women. (I’ll include a video below this transcript of Bernays explaining exactly how he did it. It’s a fascinating story and to hear him tell it is even better.) But Bernays’ work with fluoridationists isn’t nearly as well known.

Bernays was a social acquaintance with Dr. Leona Baumgartner, the Commissioner of Health in New York City. Here is a letter she sent him after they met for lunch on December 7, 1960 and discussed a survey the city was putting together to gauge public interest in fluoridation. She asks for Bernays’ assistance in composing the survey. He advises that a sociological survey is “really not what we need for our purposes” and offers to help set up a committee—he proposes calling it “The Public Interest Committee of the New York Department of Health”—to manipulate the public into accepting fluoridation. He suggests the committee start by tackling a problem completely unrelated to fluoride that the public is vitally interested in and wants solved. Then they can switch focus and use the momentum to implement fluoridation. Baumgartner responds, “I am perfectly delighted to go ahead and appoint this committee at any time that you suggest.”

She also sends this letter to John Knutson, the chief dental officer at the U. S. Public Health Service, and urges him to meet with Bernays who she describes as “full of ideas about what is the matter with the approaches that have been used so far” to promote fluoridation. Knutson sends Bernays an invitation to a meeting in Washington, D. C. which Bernays readily accepts.

I don’t have any records of what was discussed between Bernays and the chief dental officer at the U. S. Public Health Service, but here is an exchange about another key tactic Baumgartner learned from Bernays that seems to have been widely implemented across the country. By 1960, fluoridationists had successfully co-opted science and government, but the media stubbornly refused to fall in line. Baumgartner asks for Bernays’ advice regarding an episode about fluoridation on the Today show, a program watched by 7 million Americans each morning. Bernays responds that the program did nothing to advance the cause of fluoridation for two reasons: 1) fluoridation was presented as a controversy with equal time and presumably equal value to both sides, and 2) the dentist who spoke for the fluoridation side was highly unconvincing.

Baumgartner agrees with Bernays assessment. She writes, “This problem of equal time has been a continual headache with the networks. I don’t know what we can do about this.”  Bernays offers an eloquent solution. He advises Baumgartner to “write a very sincere letter to the heads of the networks. For instance, David Sarnoff, William Paley, etc., giving your point of view as to the non-controversial aspects of fluoridation. It is like presenting two sides for anti-Catholicism or anti-semitism and pointing out to them in the public interest why this is so without necessarily asking them to act in any specific way, but rather generically. It would seem to me that this might lead to a revision of the whole policy of what shall and shall not be considered controversial. Sincerely, Edward L. Bernays”


By 1961, the Martin trial was still dragging out in appeals courts. Kehoe admits the extensive lawsuits they expected over fluoride air pollution never materialized, but he is still pitching research projects to prove fluoride is safe. Here’s a letter from Kehoe to the medical director at Reynolds Metals. He writes, “Despite the fact that the further litigation which was anticipated with apprehension some years ago has failed to appear, the industries involved are vulnerable in the field of occupational disease hazard and in the field of community health relating to air pollution… there is a basic question concern­ing the non-specific effects of prolonged exposure to apparently harmless quantities of fluoride (this by the way, is the thing on which George Walbott bases his entire campaign against fluoridation), I am sure that a sound and (in the long run) economically feasible program of investigation could be worked out…”

In 1965, one year after fluoridation opponents are eternally satirized in Dr. Strangelove, artificial water fluoridation is finally implemented in New York City. After a public hearing that lasted twenty hours, fluoridation was voted in by just five men on the city’s board. New Yorkers—along with millions of other Americans—have been drinking water laced with hydrofluorosilicic acid purchased directly from phosphate fertilizer plants in central Florida ever since.

Robert Kehoe retired that same year and he sent this letter to Alocoa’s Frank Seamans, head of the fluorine lawyers group, on April 12, 1965 to tie up some loose ends. He tells Seamans that the medical survey conducted in 1948 from Alcoa’s plant in Niagara Falls needs to be published with “but little alteration” because it is “one of the most significant of American documents of the essential harmlessness of exposure to and absorption of fluoride.” Kehoe claims it would have made all the difference in the Martin trial. He writes, “I shall never forget my frustration at not being able, on the witness stand, even to mention my direct knowledge of these matters through experience, since to do so would have brought forth requests for evidence which had not been made available… I could never have cleared the Laboratory of connivance in its suppression.”

This evidence might have been withheld from prosecutors in the Martin trial in the 1950s but it’s available for you today here. I would be interested to know if you think it’s the missing study that proves fluoride is safe, as Kehoe seems to have claimed, or perhaps you can spot a reason or two why the attorneys might have persuaded Kehoe not to submit these studies as evidence of fluoride’s safety at the trial. I’d love to hear your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #Fpollution.

We’re at the end of our episode but the pollution story behind fluoridation didn’t end in 1965. After Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, exposed the toxic effects of DDT and led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, one of the agency’s first tasks was to create a comprehensive 400-page report on the cost effectiveness of controlling fluoride air pollution. Right here in the summary on page one you can see the report notes that of the top six industries that emit heavy amounts of fluoride air pollution, only one (the aluminum industry) was using any type of emissions control for fluoride.

In 1977, Congress held another round of fluoridation hearings, this time featuring testimony from Dean Burk, the longtime head of the Cytochemistry Section of the National Cancer Institute. When Burk testified that artificial water fluoridation was likely causing thousands of excess cancer deaths in the United States every year, Congress ordered EPA to conduct research on fluoride and cancer. The study took over a decade and when it was finally published, the results were so controversial that…

Wait a minute, our story is in the 1980s now. That means we can hear the rest of the story directly from the scientists and public health officials who witnessed firsthand and were participants in these events that reveal the pollution story behind artificial water fluoridation in the United States. And that’s what we’ll do in the rest of this series, starting with next week’s episode where I talk with Dr. Robert Carton, one of the first presidents of the EPA Union of scientists at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Carton: EPA had not done their job in setting the standard properly scientifically, like coming up with an Acceptable Daily Dose. They never calculated anything. It was just a shoddy, shoddy job. This is no small matter. There ought to be an investigation.



Melissa Gallico: 

If you enjoyed this episode of the #Fpollution podcast, please subscribe and leave a review. It really helps other listeners find the show. This episode was executive produced by Linda Peterson, Scott Cousland, Linda Palmisano, and Kristie Lavelle. To find out how you can help me expose the pollution story behind fluoridation by joining the crew at Gallico Studios for as little as $1 a month, or to sign our petition to end fluoridation, visit our website at


Thanks for listening.

*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.



*The #Fpollution podcast is about fostering thoughtful, intelligent discussion on fluoridation. Comments should add value to the conversation and should not contain spam, outside links, or any language that could be construed as a personal attack, hate speech, or profanity.

bottom of page