Stephen Smith
The Boston Globe
September 29, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Massachusetts, the birthplace of public health, has long led the nation in disease-fighting crusades, vaccinating children at high rates and crafting antismoking campaigns exported around the world. But it ranks 36th when it comes to providing residents with fluoridated water.

Nearly 150 cities and towns that could add the substance don’t, a state study released this year found — even though fluoridation is hailed by disease specialists as one of the 10 seminal public health triumphs of the past century.

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Voters in Springfield, Worcester, and elsewhere have repeatedly, and sometimes resoundingly, thwarted bids to put fluoride in their water, rejecting the entreaties of dentists and health directors that the chemical prevents rotten teeth.

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