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HW #3 Water issues in Guatemala and Egypt

HW #3 Water issues in Guatemala and Egypt

1) If it has been a few days since my little preview lecture, perhaps check it out again (WORD).

2) Read the Egypt article (PDF) first since their dam is already built and they are in a position to make claims about its long-term effects.

3) Then read the Guatemala article ( ).

4) Your prompts:

• What are some of the implications of developing nations’ efforts to control, employ, manipulate, and commodify water?
• What are some ways E’s experience contrasts with that of G?
• What were some of the issues and/or pressures E faced 50 years ago vs. those G faces today? Did those SOBs in the developed world have a serious impact on the choices made by both of these developing nations?
• Were E’s efforts a model for other developing nations? Are G’s?
• Is there a fundamental difference in resource management if you, like E, are a dictatorship with one river vs., like G, a democracy with dozens? How do those differences get expressed?
• … or whatever, you tell me…

Since the early 20th century, water fluoridation remains one of the most controversial issues in public health policy.  Opponents of fluoridation argue that fluoride is poisonous and can lead to poor health. The other argument is that it is a form of mass control, which allows public health officials to control the health of the public through mass medication. However, scientific evidence suggests otherwise. No single study has provided sufficient evidence on the relationship between water fluoridation in the recommended amounts and negative health effects. Opponents generally rely on research that fails to control other variables such as age and sex, which determine health outcomes. Recent attempts to revoke water fluoridation rules shows that the controversy is yet to die, and opponents continue to influence public policy to the detriment of the public.

Water Fluoridation Conspiracy

Water fluoridation, a process of adjusting fluoride levels in drinking water is touted as one of the ‘greatest public health miracles of the 20th century,’ or even one of the greatest public health fraud of the century (Garfield, 1986). Fluoridation played a key role in reducing the prevalence of dental cavities in the 20th Century.  While dental cavities remain preventable, they are still a major threat to the health outcomes of children and are one of the most common and significant chronic problem affecting children. Even though fluoridation has played a key role in reducing dental cavities, more than 100 million Americans do not have access to fluoridated water (Noda, 2016). Individual views rather than scientific studies have largely determined the implementation of water fluoridation in various communities. At any one time, any attempt to fluoridate community water leads to the emergence of conspiracy theories on the negative impact of fluoridation on community health. This paper examines the key controversies and scientific information on fluoridation.

Literature Review

Rise of Organized Community Fluoridation

            The study of water fluoridation began in the early 1900s when Dr. J. M. Eager was stationed in Italy as a dentist. Eager observed that Italian emigrants had poor oral health, with the majority having black horizontal lines on their teeth (Carstairs, 2015). He observed that the emigrants would develop the dental disease after drinking water from nearby springs. Another Dentist Fredrick McKay began observing a similar phenomenon in the U.S and devoted his time studying the issue. While the two were not aware of the research findings of the other until a decade later, they reported similar findings. By the early 1930s, the two researchers had discovered that fluoride in water was the main cause of dental staining (Carin, Katz, & Rosenthal, 1969). There were several other attempts to study the effect of fluoride, with early studies focusing on the negative effects of fluoride on oral health.

Earlier government efforts to study the impact of fluoride began in 1930 when Dr. H. Trendley Dean, the first director of National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted an epidemiological study on the relationship between water fluoride and endemic mottling of teeth (Carstairs, 2015). The epidemiological study found that only fluoride levels of 1.0 parts per million could cause severe staining. Further, the study reported that fluoride reduces the prevalence of dental cavities. Gradually, other studies began to emerge, which provided evidence that there was a strong relationship between fluoridation and reduction of dental cavities. In 1938, Dean published his research showing that fluoridation of water with fluoride of lower than one part per million would lower the prevalence of dental cavities (Carstairs, 2015; Mullen, 2005). The research, as well as, other epidemiological studies led to the emergence of community water fluoridation through organized community efforts.