Fluoridation, Nebraska
Fluoride fight wacky, batty and hilarious
Editorial - Lincoln Journal Star, February 2003 - original

The York City Council should be commended for attempting to add fluoride to its water supplies. The council provides a worthy example for other timid communities in Nebraska that are missing the decay prevention benefits that come from adding fluoride to drinking water.

Unfortunately the York community is providing discouraging evidence of the uninformed and paranoid backlash that can occur when progressive leaders try to act in the best interests of their community -- most specifically its children.

The York City Council voted 8-0 in August to join 60 other communities in Nebraska that fluoridate their water. Then a petition drive was mounted to force the issue to a public vote.

No American should have a problem with that course of events.

But the opponents of fluoridation are unleashing a campaign based on unsubstantiated pseudo-science and consisting largely of name-calling. Leader Wesley Trollope has applied the label of unpatriotic American to those who have taken public positions in favor of fluoridation.

He proudly boasts that as an employee of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI he drove the station wagon that delivered files and records to the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities.

Furthermore, Trollope asserts, fluoridation is a plan by America's enemies to add a deadly poison to American water supplies to create a "spirit of lethargy in the nation, keeping the general public docile during a steady encroachment of Socialism."

He also cites a few isolated scientific experts, even a few mavericks with good credentials, who have raised questions on the type of fluoride typically used in water supplies.

Just so no one misses the obvious, Trollope's ideas have no factual basis.

They seem to belong to an era long, long ago. Did Trollope sleep through the collapse of the Soviet Union? His ideas are wacky, batty and hilarious.

It is dismaying that his ideas seem to have some appeal to people who sign petitions.

The fact is that the American Dental Association "unreservedly endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies as safe, effective and necessary in preventing tooth decay. This support has been the Association's position since policy was first adopted in 1950."

In view of that long-held position, plus decades of proof in countless communities across the country that fluoridation is effective, it is surprising that York and so many other communities failed to fluoridate their water long ago.

Sixty-five communities in Nebraska that have water systems serving more than 1,000 residents do not have fluoridated water.

That total includes some of Nebraska's larger cities, such as Beatrice, Grand Island, Hastings, North Platte, Seward, Crete and Wahoo.

Now pending in the state Legislature is a bill that would force communities to add fluoride to their water. Sponsor Sen. Jim Jensen of Omaha said that fluoridation would reduce state Medicaid costs by reducing cavities in children by up to 60 percent and in adults by up to 35 percent.

There may be a legitimate argument on whether the proposed bill would force an unfunded mandate on local communities.

But there is no argument that fluoridation is a safe investment that returns far more than its cost by improving a community's dental health.

York leaders may worry that they have provoked an embarrassing controversy, but in reality they are showing the sort of resolve and fortitude that sadly is lacking in too many other Nebraska cities and towns.