Legality of Fluoridation
Fluoridation of municipal drinking water has aroused some controversy from its beginnings in 1945. Determined people have questioned its effectiveness, safety, and legality. Most scientists, dentists, and physicians are satisfied that the effectiveness and safety questions have been resolved. Some people, however, still object to fluoridation from the perspective that it denies them a legally protected choice.
There is a Constitutional basis for fluoridation. The preamble states the purpose of government is “to promote the general welfare.” The 10th Amendment gives to the states all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government, and this includes control of public health legislation. The development of public health law illustrates the conflict between individual rights and the greater good. Historically, the courts have sided with the greater good on issues of public health, two examples being vaccinations and quarantines. The same legal basis supports our regulations on toxic air emissions, timber harvesting, and wastewater discharges.
The courts have rejected opposition arguments based on the pursuit of happiness and personal liberty, the right to privacy, and forced medication (violation of the principle of informed consent). In Rogowski v. City of Detroit, the court held that it was “common knowledge” that fluoridation is beneficial, and “the fact that a belief is not universal is not controlling, for there is scarcely any belief that is accepted by everyone.” An Oklahoma court found that fluoridation is “no more practicing medicine or dentistry than a mother would be who furnishes her children a well-balanced diet.” The courts have recognized the similarity of water fluoridation and disinfection with chlorine, a practice which has been upheld in the courts many times. The U.S. Supreme Court has never chosen to hear an appeal regarding the legality of fluoridation, with six cases dismissed because they did not warrant the court’s attention, and seven cases dismissed for lack of a substantial “federal question.”
Science works best within its structure of hypothesis, experiment, theory, interpretation and publication. Its likely fluoridation has been more rigorously evaluated by this process than any other public health measure, and this has been recognized by our courts and elected bodies.
DMWW continues to stay current with all the latest research and regulations regarding fluoride. This is the final article in a series of five. Links to previous articles are below. Thanks for reading!