Las Vegas Sun

December 20, 2014

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Sun editorial:

Fluoride? In the water?

A bill to battle tooth decay is, to some, a government plot, just as in ‘Dr. Strangelove’

The state Legislature is debating a plan to mandate fluoridated water in Washoe County, which has brought out a paranoid libertarian streak in some people.

On Monday a Senate committee heard testimony about adding fluoride to the water, with public health advocates and dentists noting that the naturally occurring element helps prevent tooth decay. They said it is particularly important for children.

But some decried the addition of fluoride in the water, alleging it is toxic, a carcinogen and harmful to the brain.

The facts show otherwise. The National Institutes of Health and a slew of studies show that water fluoridated at recommended levels is safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says studies show a significant decrease in tooth decay in communities that add fluoride to the water.

More than 60 percent of America has fluoridated water. Clark County started adding fluoride in 2001 in response to a legislative mandate. There are still people in Nevada vehemently opposed to it, however, as senators learned this week.

Some opponents said fluoridated water is a violation of people’s civil liberties and argued that the government wants to “medicate” the public.

Did we somehow get transported back to the 1950s, when ultraconservatives were arguing that fluoridation was a communist mind-control plot? Using arguments that range from absurd to false, the anti-fluoride advocates are making Nevada look like a backwater filled, of course, with unfluoridated water.

It reminds us of the wonderful parody of the paranoia surrounding fluoridation in a scene from the classic movie “Dr. Strangelove.” The crazy Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper sends a nuclear bomber toward the Soviet Union to protect the country against “the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids” through fluoridated water.

Ripper’s foolproof plan to keep his fluids pure: Drinking “only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure-grain alcohol.”

Perhaps the Nevada opponents should follow suit, and choose bottled water over tap.

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