Fluorides, facts and fanatics: public health advocacy shouldn't stop at the courthouse door

Am J Public Health. 1985 Aug;75(8):888-91. doi: 10.2105/ajph.75.8.888.


KIE: One of the more controversial American public health issues is fluoridation of municipal water supplies. Opponents occasionally succeed in halting fluoridation through local referenda, but the courts usually uphold fluoridation laws. In 1982, however, an Illinois trial judge ruled that a state law authorizing fluoridation was unconstitutional. Although unimpressed by the plaintiff's evidence purporting to show fluoridation's risks, the judge was compelled to rule against the state because it had failed to counter with evidence on the safety of fluoridated water. Christoffel analyzes the trial court's decision and its subsequent reversal by the Illinois Supreme Court. He urges public health professionals to assume advocacy roles by ensuring that the scientific rationale behind public health regulations becomes part of the legislative record and by forcefully supporting public health policies in all forums, including the courts.

MeSH terms

  • Fluoridation / adverse effects*
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Judicial Role*
  • Jurisprudence*
  • Public Health
  • Risk Assessment