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Fluoride pills

EDITOR: Instead of spending nearly $10 million fluoridating water, Sonoma County could spend a fraction of that and give out chewable fluoride pills to adults with children, along with a bit of information on how to administer the dosage. Pills could be given out at dentists' offices, doctor's offices and free clinics.

Children need a chewable pill to get the most benefit, and only those about a year old to 14 years old get any benefit at all.

For the rest of teenagers' and adults' lives, they would not be forced to take a chemical, or mineral, naturally occurring or not, in higher concentrations than our bodies can process. It is never processed out of the body, and for those of us with chronic health conditions, we would appreciate not being loaded with more chemicals than we already get from our environment.

Please, officials and those involved in the decision process, I ask that you consider this option.

PAT WILSON

Santa Rosa

Brain research

EDITOR: The news of a proposed scientific effort sponsored by the government to further examine the workings of the human brain is exciting ("Project seeks to build map of brain," Feb. 18). Neuroscientists and the medical profession have been studying the brain in university settings and in recent years have produced remarkable results of their research through the advent of modern technology.

Much work remains to uncover the mysteries of how the brain performs its various functions, not only under normal conditions and disease but also when the brain is subjected to spiritual influences.

In this regard, research by Andrew Newberg, a physician and neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University, yielded very interesting results observed in X-rays and brain imagery regarding the changes in the brain of people who are religious, belong to a religious order, engage in meditation or prayer, experienced ecstasy or had spiritual experiences which in certain areas contrasted with those who were not religious or did not believe in God.

Perhaps ultimately research will provide the ultimate answer to the very provocative and elusive question: Did God invent the brain? Or did the brain invent God?

HELEN L. FOSTER

Santa Rosa

Destroying habitat

EDITOR: In reply to Victoria Wojcik ("Creating new habitat" Letters, Feb. 18): If PG&E actually managed the meadowland it claims to be creating, that would be something indeed. However, what PG&E creates is a wasteland of logs and debris. What grows in its wake are thorny blackberries, scotch broom, poison oak and non-native plant species. PG&E's follow-up program is herbicide application. How does that support meadowland creation?

If there is doubt as to how PG&E has been operating, take a look at the back side of Annadel State Park or ask a docent to show you Matanzas Creek or maybe a private property owner whose land has been stripped of what nature had put there in the first place.

The natural meadows beneath the trees provide extraordinary habitat for countless native plants, insects, animals and bees and butterflies already. Why must we "create" a different ecosystem from what nature deemed quite appropriate in the first place?

KATHY JARACZEWSKI

Santa Rosa

Weak science

EDITOR: The controversy about reusable cloth bags as a source of bacterial illness stems from an unpublished research paper by Wharton's Jonathan Klick and Joshua Wright. This paper has been reviewed by Tomas Aragon, an epidemiologist at UC Berkeley and health officer for San Francisco who concluded that the assertion that the ban on plastic bags is responsible for a 46 percent increase in gastrointestinal bacterial illness in San Francisco "is not warranted."

The Wharton paper is an "ecological study," meaning that if an increase in the use of reusable bags is associated with an increase in bacterial illness, then the bags must be causing the illness. Klick and Wright could not show that users of reusable bags were many of the same people who were getting sick. Moreover, they did not control for several other sources of gastrointestinal bacterial infections or for the differences in the composition of San Francisco's population as compared to other regions. This is why epidemiologists do not use ecological studies to test causal hypotheses.

People concerned about becoming infected with bacterial illness in supermarkets and elsewhere might consider using anti-bacterial wipes on shopping cart handles and baby seats. Meanwhile, please stop demonizing those of us who shop with reusable cloth bags.

RICHARD CLEVERLY

Santa Rosa