Prof. Catherine Carstairs
Prof. Catherine Carstairs

Why is water fluoridation such a source of controversy for many people?

That was the question U of G Prof. Catherine Carstairs of the Department of History was asked by Buzzfeed News in a new article about how legitimate research into the possible health effects of fluoridation is being thwarted by loud anti-fluoride campaigns.

Carstairs has conducted extensive study on the decades-long history of fluoridation, examining the health concerns that have been raised, the public health benefits it has offered, and the conspiracy theories that have evolved.

She told Buzzfeed that most people who worry about fluoridation are simply concerned about something they see as a chemical being deliberately added to the water supply.

“There’s something very personal about water. People take the sanctity of their water very, very seriously,” she said.

Carstairs studies many areas of 20th century cultural and social history, including the history of health and illness, illegal drug use, the history of health food, and the water fluoridation debate.