I READ Joanna Blythman’s article ("We must not allow this man to poison Scotland’s water with fluoride", The Herald, October 23) with increasing incredulity and anger.

Her opening diatribe about Sajid Javid’s lack of medical expertise can be equally applied to herself and her prejudices can be equally manipulated by the many so-called experts she quotes. There are very many more learned and well researched papers on the other side of the argument from that which she supports.

She writes that the United States currently adjusts the fluoride levels in most tap water to the proven most effective level of one part per million and then announces that the US Protection Agency is currently being sued in the US Federal Court by Food and Water Watch, but omits to mention that there has never been a successful anti-fluoride lawsuit in the US in all the years since this public health measure was first introduced in 1945, or since becoming US public health policy in 1951. By 2018 73% of the US population received water to the recommended level of 0.7 milligrams per litre added fluoride. Surely if the adjustment of the fluoride content in water gave rise to the multiple problems that Ms Blythman quotes there would have been at least one successful lawsuit in that most litigious country in the 70 years since this fluoridation became US policy?

I would suggest that anyone in doubt about the efficacy and safety of this measure should look up the website of America’s health rankings: www.americashealthrankings.org. Its advisory council includes many eminent individuals with medical and public health qualifications and a high level of expertise – in marked contrast to the lobbyists of Food and Water Watch.

As a retired dentist with many years service in general dental practice I would love to see the day when it is no longer necessary to rip multiple badly-decayed teeth from the jaws of young children, the most common operation requiring general anaesthesia in children in the West of Scotland, so traumatising them and creating many lifelong dental phobics.

The fact that this assault is rare in the US is testimony to the efficacy of this safe public health measure.

Alastair I MacLean, Former Scottish Secretary of the British Dental Association, Scone.


WHAT a monstrous waste of time, money and worse still, energy the forthcoming COP26 will certainly be. Nothing of any value will be achieved as the crucial main player, Xi Jinping, remains firmly at home in China, proceeding merrily to sign off yet more coal mines. His "we will be carbon neutral by 2060" fools nobody and may well be far too late. Yes, China is one of the main users of electric cars and has huge renewable resources. However, it still the biggest polluter by a large margin. Australia's Scott Morrison is a last-minute, probably reluctant, addition and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro remains wired to the moon and in charge of deforestation on a biblical scale. God apparently is his judge.

The whole gathering will subject Glaswegians to much misery and almost certainly a huge spike in Covid. Greta Thunberg can be an annoying wee besom, but she is spot on with her "blah, blah, blah" comments. She is correct in saying that little positive action will actually result from this charade.

We can only hope the general world population can come up with ideas to "save the planet". Projects such as the Duke of Cambridge's Earthshot Prize might just be the best way forward as it encouraged many innovative people to come up with brilliant solutions. Humans have the intellect and technology to make the difference. But do politicians and billionaires have the foresight, will or even the nous to fund it?

Ian Smith, Symington.


WHAT unimagined power being the school bell-ringer confers. In the sixth form at school I was made school bell-ringer. The school, an Edwardian building, was divided into two blocks, north and south, and it was quite a scoot to run from one to the other to press the respective electric bell buttons. Then there was the quick dash outside with the handbell to summon the lasses from the sports field.

Occasionally the power failed and the handbell had to be whizzed from one block to the other. I had to be in school earlier than the other pupils to ring the assembly bells and was a bit later leaving after ringing the end-of-day ones. I am very satisfied to read that I was once one of the "benevolent, godlike entities with bells", mentioned by Rab McNeil ("Liberty bell", Herald Magazine, October 23). It gives me my only possible claim to fame and a sort of satisfaction that I might have actually terrified a few of my fellow pupils; shy little flower that I was in those days.

Which reminds that I need to replace the batteries in my front-door bell. A neighbour has just mentioned that it isn't working.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


I ALWAYS enjoy reading Dr Gerald Edwards’s letters even though I seldom agree with his views. His latest on the subject of the NHS accompanied by his name and usual title (October 25) suggested to me that he may have medical experience (or not as the case may be).

It reminds me of an incident many years ago when I was on board a North Sea ferry to Hull when I responded to a call for a “medical doctor” to attend a lady with a severe nosebleed. I asked why “medical” had been emphasised and was told that the previous week a similar call for a “doctor” had produced a clergyman who said he was a Doctor of Divinity.

Colin Sykes (retired consultant physician), Eaglesham.