Dr. Know: Fluoridation Situation

Is Portland's consideration of putting fluoride in our drinking water a bad idea?

I'm hearing that the City of Portland is thinking about putting fluoride in our drinking water. People are getting pretty freaked out—like, they're saying fluoride is made out of toxic waste. So, is fluoride an evil plot?

—Klaus Flouride

Let me put it this way: When the great right-wing mind-control conspiracy finally does come to America, do you really think the Portland City Council is where it's likely to start? It's like expecting the Glorious Workers' Revolution to kick off at a Dallas Cowboys game.

But let's take one thing at a time. The "toxic waste" rap probably comes from the fact that one of the most common fluoridating chemicals is a byproduct of the chemical process used to make phosphoric acid.

Is a byproduct waste? Sure—but not all waste is toxic. Brewer's yeast, for example, is a byproduct of the beer-making process, and you probably put some on your organic free-range popcorn last night.

Scientists agree: fluoridation helps. It's especially good for poor kids (or those with shitty parents) who might otherwise be on their own, dental-health-wise. 

But it's your call. Either science works, or it doesn't. You can decide the science that says fluoridation is safe and effective is bunk—what do scientists know, anyway?

However, when you embrace that line of reasoning, be aware you're occupying the same rhetorical box as climate-change deniers, folks who say evolution is "just a theory," and tobacco execs who insist there's no proof smoking causes cancer.

While you're there, say hello to Nobel Prize-winning autism researcher Jenny McCarthy, and consider choosing your fellow travelers more carefully in the future.

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