How a fluoride conspiracy theorist secretly helped kids get cavities

The civil servant maintaining the fluoride levels in Richmond, Vermont's water supply was quietly lowering the levels for years as he believed in long-disproven and discredited conspiracy theories. Kendall Chamberlin, Richmond's water and wastewater superintendent, claims to have had the best intentions. Still, every time the State noticed the levels were off and would work with him to bring them back up, it appears he started lowering them again. It sounds as if the city manager did not know what levels to look for in their monthly reports or didn't care and just signed off, trusting the conspiracy theorist.


Chamberlin's decision flabbergasted residents and doctors. "For a single person to unilaterally make the decision that this public health benefit might not be warranted is inappropriate. I think it's outrageous," retired Dr. Allen Knowles said at the Sept. 19 meeting. He said he has an 8-month-old granddaughter he thought was getting adequately fluoridated water. "Fluoride, again, is one of the most successful and important public health measures that has ever been undertaken in this country," Knowles said. "The reduction in dental disease is just inarguable. You don't establish safety based on one person's opinion or one study or this or that." Most water naturally contains some fluoride, but typically not enough to prevent cavities.