A short story on fluoride…
Before Baltimore started on its quest for pure and wholesome drinking water, we need to look at a brief history of water treatment itself. This, I believe, was best documented in Joseph Ellms 1917 book Water Purification. He starts off by describing the Ancient Systems of Water Supply as such:
Among primitive peoples the question of water supply was never of pressing importance, except in arid and semi-arid regions…springs were sought for, wells were dug, and cisterns constructed in order that a supply of water might at all times be available. Wells of great antiquity may be found in Egypt (Joseph’s well was 297 feet deep in solid rock) and India. The Chinese were familiar with the driving of artesian wells. Domestic filters of unglazed earthenware or of sandstone were known to have been used by ancient Egyptians and by the Japanese…siphoning water from one vessel to another through porous material was well known to the ancients. As populations became more dense…the need for larger volumes of water…became urgent. The ancient water tanks of Aden, in Arabia, collected surface waters from the gorges of a volcanic crater…example of an impounding reservoir…may have been built by the Persians as early as 600 B.C. Probably no more elaborate system of public water supply was provided for any ancient city than that of Rome…water conveyed by aqueducts. These were built between 321 B.C. and 305 A.D. At the time of the fall of Rome…many were destroyed or fell to disease. The Moors in Spain during the ninth century constructed some important works, also rebuilding the older Roman works. London was first supplied in small quantities with spring water conducted through lead pipes and masonry conduits. In 1582 a pump was erected on London Bridge to take water from the River Thames and to deliver it through the lead pipes. The growth and development of water works plants in reality dates from the eighteenth century…not until the latter half of the nineteenth century was very rapid progress made.
Mr Ellms then notes four epochs concerning water purification within the United States: First was James P. Kirkwood’s report on the “Filtration of River Waters” in 1866. Second was the work of the Massachusetts’s State Board of Health in 1887. Third was experimentation on turbid waters starting with Louisville, Kentucky in 1896 and the fourth being from 1908 when the disinfection of the water, on an experimental basis, with hypochlorite of lime, started in Chicago. This method became widespread over the next five years. Meanwhile, experimentation in both Europe and the US continued; using chlorine, ozone and ultra-violet light.
When I first started scanning Lantern slides and glass plate negatives, I played around with my new scanner software and saw that I could add color to old photos. As I’ve been going through and cleaning out some old files, I came across the above pictures. When I first colored them I thought it was pretty neat that this could be done, now I’m not too sure if it should be? I really like the old B&W movies from when I was a child. When they started to colorize them, I thought, How odd is that? What do you think? The colors that I used were based on the old lithograph colors used in reports, to match those and not so much as what the colors should really be.
A poem which appeared, under the signature of “Old Fashioned,”
in the Federalsburg “Times” 1956:
This Business of our Water surely makes me think
Of “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”
So said the Ancient Mariner; let’s do as he would do:
Let’s keep our water undefiled or what he says come true.
Our Water Works for many years provided fine, pure bubbles,
Then they put the chlorine in to give us stomach troubles.
Now Sodium Fluoride is good for teeth, they say,
They would put it in the water to stop our tooth decay,
But I have a suggestion and my logic is correct;
Why not Citrate of Magnesia for medicinal effect?
Why Not Scotch or Bourbon piped to every house and home
And in the heat of summer, nice cool beer with lots of foam ?
The danger, Friend, of puttin’ in is not knowing where to stop,
And I, an Ancient Mariner, would forget it, drop by drop.
For with water, water everywhere, I have a right to think
What once was fine, pure water is no longer fit to drink.
Please Mister, make me happy; leave what I drink alone,
And when decay has got my teeth I’ll buy dentures of my own.
I found this in a 1953 letter from Edward Hopkins (Baltimore City Water Engineer) to a Mrs. Cobb, in New Jersey:
“Fluoridation of the Baltimore water began on November 26, 1952. Fluoridation of the supply was ordered by the Mayor and confirmed by vote of the City Council. The subsequent injunction to restrain the City from applying fluoridation was dismissed, on the grounds that this action would not interfere with religious beliefs, and that it was within the jurisdiction of the Mayor and City Council to proceed.”
Upon some research I found why it was against religious beliefs. The documentation is fairly long so I placed it on my History page for anyone who would like to comment.