Fluoride Wars Recounts Public Health Controversy

Published June 1, 2009

The new book The Fluoride Wars: How a Modest Public Health Measure Became America’s Longest Running Political Melodrama, by R. Allen Freeze and Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr, is a lively account of the war over fluoridation of America’s drinking water.

Richly populated by colorful characters—activists, scientists, magicians, politicians—the book gives a witty and detailed history of the fluoridation controversy, illuminating the intersection of science and politics. It explores the pro- and anti-fluoridation movements, key players, and important events and outlines fluorophobia and popular conspiracy theories involving fluoride.

First implemented in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945, fluoridation of public drinking water has been the subject of intense debate ever since, providing an object lesson in public health, understanding of science, and policymaking. The tale of fluoridation and its discontents resonates with current concerns such as the safety of genetically modified foods and the response to global warming, nuclear power, and environmental regulation.

Aimed at interested general readers as well as specialists in public health, dentistry, policymaking, and related fields, The Fluoride Wars takes a careful and fair look at the hard science, popular science, pseudoscience, and junk science involved in the debate and delves into scientific and economic issues such as dosage, cost, financial and funding interests, fluorosis, and problems of risk-cost-benefit analysis. It recounts the drama between pro- and anti-fluoridation factions, with all their claims, counterclaims, insults, acrimony, and lawsuits, and gives case studies of various cities’ experiences with municipal water fluoridation initiatives.

The book is published by Wiley in hardcover for $39.95 and went on sale May 4. It is available in The Heartland Institute webstore at http://www.heartlandstore.org..