Reverse decay of common sense | March 18 editorial
Brushing trumps fluoridation
I'm not a tea party enthusiast, a conspiracy theorist or a member of any other organized group opposed to fluoridation of our public water supply. I hold a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and also hold a healthy (pun intended) respect for the human body's ability to thrive in an era of junk-food nutrition, prescription drug overuse, environmental toxins and stresses of living in an overstimulated culture.
There are simple, inexpensive ways to avoid poor dental health, such as simply brushing with baking soda, which removes food particles and neutralizes the enamel-destroying acids formed by bacteria after eating food, especially high-sugar items like soda and candy, and flossing. How about adding teeth brushing twice daily at elementary schools to educate children about responsible dental care?
Mandating an unnecessary treatment of public water is a slippery slope; what other chemicals might be added to treat obesity, smoking and other easily preventable conditions? How about a full-page article supporting the addition of daily vitamins to our water supply in the name of public health? Probably not.
Charlotte Downey, Gulfport
Reverse decay of common sense
Don't force-feed us
Elimination of tooth decay is not the real issue here. Adding fluoride to drinking water constitutes the forced delivery of medication to the entire population. The growing demand for home water filters is evidence of our citizens' desire to eliminate chlorine and fluorine from their drinking water. Even the American Dental Association strongly advises against fluoride exposure for babies. Yet some pediatricians continue to prescribe fluoride pills for young children, who are then at greater risk for overexposure to this highly toxic element that causes dental fluorosis in over 30 percent of children.
The National Research Council and the Fluorine Action Network have valuable research data for people interested in another point of view.
Elizabeth Wardrum, St. Petersburg
I can't understand the obsession with putting an unnatural chemical in our drinking water. Of the 6,000 gallons a month the average household uses, I'd guess that less than a couple of gallons is actually ingested. So probably 99 percent of that fluoride-treated water goes down the drain in my bathtub, washing machine and toilet. Very little spends time embracing the enamel on my teeth.
As you point out, the government started adding fluoride to water supplies in the 1940s. Obviously it didn't help prevent my many memorable and painful trips to the dentist during my youth. I have a mouth full of fillings. Fluoride was simply a by-product of our growing chemical industry looking for a market.
If fluoride is so wonderful, then perhaps the government should mandate it be added to all bottled water, milk, beer and soft drinks — the fluids that we actually drink. Let's pass out fluoride-containing toothpaste instead and encourage brushing. That's what prevents cavities.
Curt Wasko, Palm Harbor
Argument doesn't add up
You cite a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Oral Health, but then from the same source the statistic that 40 percent of children between 12 and 15 have dental fluorosis.
So the benefit is 25 percent and the risk is more than 40 percent?
You again cite the CDC and write that most of the cases are mild cases of dental fluorosis. Whew. How much of that "most" is mild? What, they don't have figures for you to nosh on? Yet you advocate that our water should be fluoridated because the science is overwhelming.
Basic math escapes you.
If I required more logic and "common sense" like this, I'd watch Fox news. I'm canceling my subscription.
Christina Arasmo Beymer, Largo
An evening to remember | March 19 op-ed
Reason for invite is obvious
"How did you make the list?" Really! You don't know? Could it be that the Tampa Bay Times is sympathetic to the Obama administration? Could it be because your own PolitiFact project finds three false statements by Republicans for every one false statement by Democrats? That's according to a study by the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs. My guess is that Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh weren't invited.
Florida is an important election state, particularly Central Florida. The Times is a friend of the Obama administration and that is why you were invited. President Barack Obama wants your paper to keep presenting political news that favors him over the GOP opponent. That is why you made the list.
Shawn Ryan, Tampa
Here, not there, nowhere? March 18 Charles Kenny column
TB knows no borders
Despite Charles Kenny's claim of a silver lining to America's disengagement with other countries, we cannot persist in an insular cocoon. The number of jobs in Florida dependent on international trade nearly doubled in the past two decades. And with international travel for business and pleasure so frequent and accessible, physical health becomes just as important as economic health.
One-third of the world's population carries the TB bacterium, and TB is the largest killer of people with AIDS. Florida is a particularly vulnerable state because we are a gateway of entry for many immigrants and foreign visitors. Just last month 150 students and others at USF had to be tested when one was suspected of carrying the disease.
Saturday is World TB Day. Take some time to learn about the importance of the fight to eradicate this public health threat.
Linda Schatz, Tampa
Dangling bait for a bad deal March 15 editorial
Help existing businesses
Instead of giving away $15 million of taxpayer money and incentives for yet another big-box retailer that will suck away sales from already struggling local businesses as well as create little in the way of quality jobs, may I suggest a grant to existing Hillsborough businesses. I would suggest $10,000 to 1,500 businesses that can demonstrate the need for improvements, working capital and other expenses.
Let's take care of our own who are struggling right now and think of all the money that would stay in the community by doing this.
Jeffrey Francis, St. Petersburg