Please Pass the Roach Poison" was the facetious title of an editorial in The Journal earlier this year (195:955, March 14). The editorial was referring to the widespread use of fluoride in lessening tooth decay by 60% to 70% via fluoridation of community waters, and to the beginning use of fluoride as part of the treatment, and possibly prevention, of osteoporosis, a very prevalent disease of aging. It is true that fluorides were used as insecticides, and occasionally as rodenticides a generation or more ago. They are not so used today because we have better materials for such purposes.
The same editorial title could have been used for many other mineral elements that have important nutritional and physiologic functions, but which, before these were discovered, were used in part because of toxic properties. Here one could mention iodine, iron, copper, chlorine, zinc, and others. All of this simply emphasizes