<b>Clearing the air</b>

EDITOR: Once again, The Press Democrat prints its liberal slant on the Spare the Air program and the great strides being made by this agency ("Air quality calamity," Dec. 28). Statements that have no factual basis are presented to sway the reader into siding with this agency. I quote, "the emergency department usually sees more patients with acute asthma . . . there's also evidence of increased mortality among patients who are 65 and older."

I think one could safely say that the older you get, the higher the chances are of kicking the bucket, and diet and lifestyle and the grace of God are more relevant factors than wood-burning stoves.

One accurate statement was the admission that the goal is to put an end to all wood burning. The facts are folks would do well to open their windows and let some fresh air circulate into their homes. During winter months, the most unhealthful air is what's inside the house not what's outside.

One might also wonder why an air quality level of 101 in Santa Rosa requires someone in San Jose to not burn wood. The air district's technical explanation is that "air moves." How profound. Perhaps a more reasonable approach would be to have volunteer participation.


Santa Rosa

<b>No more free passes</b>

EDITOR: We read in Thursday's paper that the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling temporarily allowing Catholic groups to avoid providing birth control in employee health plans. This is based, of course, on the church's objection to birth control.

This religious intrusion into a medical service provided as a matter of law should serve to remind us of other civil matters over which religious groups have attempted to hold sway. Countless pulpits in the South preached the superiority of the white race to justify slavery in the middle of the 19th century. More recently, they have lobbied against interracial marriage.

The American West even now is populated with religious groups that call for old men "marrying" young girls, still children. This is otherwise called statutory rape. Likewise, some religious groups would withhold life-saving medical intervention for their children, claiming religious exemption. The beating of children and wives has long been sanctioned by some religions.

It is time for society to cease averting its eyes from these travesties of justice. We should stop giving religious groups free passes from the law based on their claims of religion.


Santa Rosa

<b>Fluoride risks</b>

EDITOR: Improving children's dental health is a worthy goal. Tooth-brushing, limited sugar intake and regular dental care are key factors. But ingesting fluoride can cause disfiguring dental fluorosis, may weaken bones and cause other health effects. The Sebastopol Water Information Group has seen no modern studies to prove that drinking fluoride improves dental health.

We have found research that suggests a lack of correlation between drinking fluoride and dental decay levels: A 1990 study of 39,000 children in 84 U.S. communities found less than 0.5 percent fewer decayed tooth surfaces in lifelong fluoridated-water drinkers than in lifelong non-fluoridated-water drinkers. A 2009 study of 607 Iowa children also found a minimal correlation between tooth decay and the level of fluoride from all sources. There's more at fluoridefreesonomacounty.org.

In 2006, the National Research Council found that fluoride can cause harm at relatively low levels to teeth, bones, brains and the endocrine system.