Some of us, no doubt, choose to ignore what’s going on in Japan whether because it’s too much to bear or because we just don’t care. But for the rest of us, whether we are glued to the TV for the latest update or following it at a distance, the ordeal befalling so much of the Japanese population is unspeakably tragic.
And it’s easy to understand how the Japanese people got there. For an island nation with scant natural resources, nuclear energy was the obvious wave of the future. Nuclear energy made them independent of foreign oil–which they desperately needed to power their automobiles, in any case–and harnessed them instead to one of those pursuits the Japanese people do best: technology. So it’s difficult to fault the Japanese for thinking that nuclear power was the obvious solution to their needs.
What were the odds, after all, that an earthquake followed by a tsunami would turn nuclear facilities into seething death traps? Probably quite slender. Yet, as the Japanese and the rest of the world have just found out, those slim odds do come in on occasion, and when they do, the results are devastating. There was a level 9.0 earthquake and it did lead to a tsunami, and the best-conceived power plant technology of 60 years ago has utterly failed. You can’t depend on electrical cooling systems in times of emergency. Nothing less than a foolproof gravity-fed system would have been good enough, and we doubt there is such a thing as a foolproof system anyway. (The plant first to fail, ironically, was built by GE, not by the Japanese.)
But we’re not here to tear apart the promise of nuclear energy. Plenty of others, we suspect, will be doing that in the months to come, though it remains to be seen whether they will be able to alter a national energy policy that is bent on renewing the licenses of numerous American power plants, many of which are leaking radiation and probably in worse shape than the Fukushima nuclear plant was when its recent troubles began.
No, after several days of watching this drama play out in the news (and predicting that we would see a Chernobyl-style disaster or worse before it was over) we were finally struck by a recollection we thought worth sharing. If you are a frequent visitor to these pages, you know our views on fluoride and fluoridation. Despite the propaganda still proffered by the American Dental Association (ADA) fluoride is as certainly detrimental to human and animal health as it is questionable as an aid to dentition.
As Joel Griffiths and Christopher Bryson put it so succinctly in Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb:
Unfortunately, much of the proof of fluoride’s safety rests on the work performed by Program F Scientists at the University of Rochester. During the postwar period that university emerged as the leading academic center for establishing the safety of fluoride, as well as its effectiveness in reducing tooth decay, according to Dental School spokesperson William H. Bowen, MD. The key figure in this research, Bowen said, was Harold C. Hodge—who also became a leading national proponent of fluoridating public drinking water. Program F’s interest in water fluoridation was not just ‘to counteract the local fear of fluoride on the part of residents,’ as Hodge had earlier written. The bomb program needed human studies, as they had needed human studies for plutonium, and adding fluoride to public water supplies provided one opportunity.
Alas, the origin of the whole fluoridation saga in this country (which is–make no mistake–where it all began) was none other than our own Atomic Energy Commission (originally the Manhattan Project, now the Department of Energy, or DOE). The government found that if it was going to pursue nuclear weapons during World War II or, for that matter, nuclear power in peacetime, it would have to overcome one sizable obstacle that overshadowed all others: the toxicity of fluoride, which is used massively in processing uranium. So it ran secret experiments using an unsuspecting public as the guinea pigs. The Manhattan Project had done this with uranium and plutonium and did it as well with fluoride.
Christopher Bryson recounts further in his excellent book, The Fluoride Deception, that Dr. Howard Hodge was assigned to clean up the image of fluoride while he was secretly both the head of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology and head of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). Writes Bryson,
So, for example, on behalf of the bomb makers he covertly monitored one of the nation’s first public water fluoridation experiments. While the citizens of Newburgh, New York, were told that fluoride would reduce cavities in their children, secretly blood and tissue samples from residents were sent to his atomic laboratory for study.
Bryson also notes that “Adding to water a chemical so toxic that it was once used as rat poison was a uniquely American idea and is, increasingly, a lone American practice.” He then adds, “So if this tale of how fluoride’s public image was privately laundered sounds eerily familiar, maybe it’s because the very same professionals and institutions who told us that fluoride was safe said much the same about lead, asbestos, and DDT or persuaded us to smoke more tobacco.”
Sad, but true.
We’ve already written about Hodge and his adventures elsewhere in this publication. We suggest you read the account if you haven’t already. You might also read Christopher Bryson’s book as well.
We do not find it reassuring to know that our own federal government was largely behind the deliberate poisoning of our public water supply as a solution to the problem of how to dispose of all the toxic waste produced by the chemical fertilizer industry–the same industry that burgeoned at the end of World War II when the government discovered it had all those munitions factories on its hands producing frightful amounts of nitrate compounds for weapons manufacture. Someone got the bright idea that all that nitrogen-based pollution could be converted to fertilizer. And the industry took off, subsidized by the American taxpayer.
Industry continues to pour out fluoride in massive quantities as toxic waste, which is packaged up as fluorosilic acid—a substance too toxic to be placed in a landfill—and shipped off instead to be poured by municipalities into the public water supply. Through municipal taxes, we fund our own poisoning.
The brains behind all this are the same folks who brought you high-fructose corn syrup (a source of mercury and lead as well as fluoride) for your food and corn ethanol for your automobile’s gas tank. Of course, the fertilizer industry, as we’ve already said, was not alone in producing fluoride as a by-product. Production of aluminum and zinc are other massive sources of the poison. The atomic energy industry used it abundantly in World War II and still does today.