Comment from Old-Thinker News: This 1956 letter – reprinted in the book Your Health and Sanity in the Age of Treason – from the then New York Water Commissioner Arthur C. Ford is a public response to the City Council’s proposal to fluoridate the water supply of New York City. In 1965 New York City began fluoridating the water supply, despite wide-spread concern.
The City of New York Department of
Water Supply, Gas and Electricity
Municipal Building New York 7, N. Y.
Arthur C. ford, Commissioner March 13, 1956
Under the City Charter, the Commissioner of the Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity is charged with the responsibility of maintaining the purity and wholesomeness of the city water supply. The matter of purity has a direct bearing on the people, and involves the determination and evaluation of the tolerance of suspect, hazardous or toxic substance.
The department has extensive laboratories staffed by reputable scientists and competent sanitary engineers, with a massive library in which is contained over five thousand references on the subject of the fluorides alone. We have continued to study and evaluate the effect of toxic substances as related to water supply. The matter of fluorides has been under our scrutiny for over 20 years.
The addition of fluorides to the water supplies is not coupled with the concern of maintaining or improving the quality of the water or making it safe. No one has suggested that dental caries is a water-born disease or that water is a cause of dental decay. No satisfactory reason has ever been advanced to show why everyone in a community must be compelled to risk life-long extraordinary exposure to the toxic action of fluorides, particularly when safer, more effective and more economical ways of administering fluorides for caries prevention in children’s teeth have been pointed out and are available.
Whatever the merits of fluoridation, it would not concern us as a department if the question of water supply safety were not involved. But we are concerned, and, like yourself, in all conscience, our concern is primarily with the safety of the water supply for each and every individual of our entire population of eight million people throughout the City.
We are aware that the fluorides are extremely toxic substances, and evidence exists to show that even at the recommended level of one part per million of fluoride in drinking water, people in fluoridated communities have been harmed. A very small percentage among a population of eight million, sensitive to the chemical and adversely affected, would constitute a serous significant number of persons harmed.
We know of reputable, independent medical authorities throughout the United States and in the local area who have found evidence of fluoride damage to persons living in fluoridated communities. These medical authorities disagree with the fluoride hypothesis, and they have raised grave questions with respect to the safety of the procedure for an entire population which includes the young, the old, the susceptible and the infirm as well as the healthy.
No one has made a claim that the ingestion of fluoride can be of benefit to the teeth beyond the formative years of childhood. Because of this, and for reasons of safety and economy, this department has proposed that the City distribute fluorine tablets through health stations, free of charge, for parents to administer to children. The cost to the City, ascertained at less then 25 cents for a thousand says’ supply for each child, would be less than one-fifth of the cost of a fluoridated water program. Tablets (a pharmaceutical grade in contrast with the commercial by-product used in water fluoridation) would provide an exact procedure, under control, to be taken only by those during the formative period of their teeth.
Fluoride, besides being a toxic substance, is not all excreted when taken into the system, a significant percentage remaining cumulatively. Fluoridation of the drinking water at any level of concentration is a very indiscriminate procedure, since children drink widely varying amounts of water, each according to taste, physical activity and seasonal variations of the year. The daily intake of one child often differs greatly from that of another who may drink milk, fruit juices and soft drinks in abundance.
How then, will each child receive its appropriate share of water having a given concentration in parts per million of fluoride?
The problem of managing the control of dosage of fluoride chemical to obtain uniformity throughout a grid work of more than 5000 miles and tunnels involving different sources and pressure gradients, as in the New York system, is formidable. None of those who have made statements to the contrary have ever had the experience nor do they possess knowledge of what the exact result would be. Our concern and responsibility in the department is to provide the people of our city with dependable supply of the purest and safest water possible. No one can guarantee similar safety to all the people in the City of New York under a program using the water supply as a fluoride vehicle.
The people of the City of New York are entitled to know the risk they are being asked to assume before endorsing a program involving so many questions yet unanswered.
Unfortunately the form on the subject of fluoridation is not as open as it should be, even among professions. Although this reply to your letter is written at length, it is impossible to do more than call attention to the complex nature of your fluoride proposal. There has been too much of mass hysteria, blind following and lack of objective thinking by too many people on both sides of the question. We believe the serious nature of what you are proposing and supporting deserves all of your objectivity in inquiry and thought, and a good look at all of the facts.
Very truly yours, Arthur C. Ford, Commissioner