[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
October 1, 1973

Good News, Bad News, Good News

JAMA. 1973;226(1):67. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03230010043013

Do you recall the fracas about the fluoridation of wells and lakes as prophylaxis against dental caries, the screaming of those who condemned the poisoning of God's pure water at the behest of a few crackpot scientists? While the dissenters were dissenting, they should have realized that they were cheerfully slaking their thirst with water "contaminated" with chlorine, a preventive against water-borne disease. This additive has proved harmless, effective, and acceptable save for the taste. That was the good news.

Now, it turns out, although the Surgeon General hasn't yet said so, that under certain conditions chlorine "is dangerous to your health," if you have to undergo hemodialysis. This is the bad news. Chlorine is still innocuous when added alone to public water supplies, but, as often happens, the effort to make a good thing better may do so only at a price. The present custom is to lace the