By Abby Martin for Mediaroots.org:
When was the last time you stopped to think about the one thing you can’t live without? I don’t mean the Internet – I’m talking about water. Without clean drinking water, life could not go on. This is why it’s so important that we know what is in our water. For the past sixty-five years, city governments nationwide have been adding a controversial substance called fluoride to municipal water supplies.
You probably recognize the word fluoride from the back of your toothpaste tube or from your visits to the dentist. But the fluoride added to our water is not the same as that in our toothpaste. The chemical added to our water is a fluorine compound called hexafluorosilicic acid that is generated as a by-product from the phosphate fertilizer industry.
Phosphates are minerals that are used to make fertilizer, and phosphate mining industry is a giant moneymaker. Fluoride is created by the production of fertilizer as well as in the manufacturing of steel, aluminum, glass, and cement. Previously, the lack of government regulation allowed gaseous fluoride to move through factory smokestacks and straight into our atmosphere. Now, environmental regulations require giant filtration systems called “scrubbers” atop the stacks to keep these toxic chemicals from escaping into the air. Fluorosilicic acid is then extracted from these scrubbers and condensed to a water-based solution which is packaged unrefined and sold to city governments for the purpose of water fluoridation.
By selling the fluoride byproducts for this purpose, companies avoid the huge cost of disposing of these chemicals in the environment safely, and according to regulation. Back in the 1930’s, a band of industrial corporations – including Monsanto, U.S. Steel, Union Carbide, and Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), the leading producer of aluminum – had been cheaply disposing of their fluoride byproducts into the environment for years. This changed when their toxic waste became the target of negative press in the local news. A 1933 toxicology report by the USDA had warned of fluoride’s toxicity, singling out the aluminum industry as the biggest culprit.
The new potential of legal liability due to the exposure of workers and communities to industrial fluoride scared these corporations. Knowing that disposing of industrial fluoride waste safely was expensive, ALCOA employed biochemist Gerald Cox in 1936, to argue for fluoride’s dental benefits through experimentation on rats. Cox, neither a doctor nor a dentist, concluded that fluoride strengthened and protected teeth against decay and began to tour the country promoting water fluoridation on behalf of his employers. Interestingly, Cox’s findings ran contrary to the position originally held by the American Dental Association (ADA) on water fluoridation…
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