Leona Baumgartner

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Dr. Leona Baumgartner at the WNYC microphone, 1960

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Baumgartner, Commissioner of Health, answers questions about the department.

Marvin Sleeper moderates.

Paulette Singer, Penny Fox, Jim Farrell, Bill Beecher


Fluoride strengthens the enamel of teeth and makes tooth decay more difficult. One part per million is the right amount to have in the system. There's no real danger point because you couldn't drink enough water in a lifetime to hurt you. Some water supplies have 17 parts per million, and those people do get spots on their teeth. Engineers know how to regulate how much is put in the water, much like chlorine. No cumulative effects. No adverse effects anywhere on the body. There are a lot of people who are against things in general. The safety has been conclusively proven. Some towns have been using fluoride for generations. "One of the few experiments God has done." Artificially fluoridated water began in 1938. One Department of Water Supply chemist is against it, but hes the only opposition. Nine cents per person per year. Half a million dollars to put the machinery in place. It is not mass medication. A lot of things interfere with personal liberty - vaccination requirements, stop lights. Those people can go to private schools or buy bottled water. Wonder drugs have come out of the same institutions now backing fluoridation.

Salk vaccine update.

Tuberculosis problem is much more important. It's something you can do something about. There are at least 10,000 people wandering around the city with the disease. Mobile units to screen people.

Cancer studies: trying early cancer screening.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 72291
Municipal archives id: lt7080