Editor’s note: As part of a writing class I took this summer, I had to do a group project addressing a social issue within our society.
Part of that assignment was writing an essay that promotes activism to address the issue.The research inspired me, so I decided to share that essay with you. Hope you enjoy!
Knowledge, and the desire to use it to better our own lives, as well as the lives of everyone else. This is what has made our species so great.
Fire, the wheel, internal plumbing, electricity, refrigeration. All of these creations were the result of intelligent people with an insatiable drive to solve major problems that affected everyone within their communities.
As the world progressed into the modern era, more and more of these advancements came from the realm of medicine. For thousands of years, smallpox was a scourge that regularly plagued populations all over the world.
In the 19th century, the disease was killing 400,000 Europeans every year. In the 20th century, it accounted for an estimated 300 million deaths worldwide.
Now, consider this: the vaccine for smallpox was discovered, by a man named William Jenner, in 1796. However, it took more than 160 years for the World Health Assembly to pass a worldwide resolution to eradicate the disease in 1959, and another 20 years for the disease to be completely eradicated.
There hasn’t been a single documented death from smallpox since 1980, but it took nearly 200 years to make that happen.
Our modern world is no different. Every year, 3 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases, half of that being children 5 years old or younger.
Other preventable diseases, like diarrhea and pneumonia, claim the lives of another 2 million children who are simply too poor to afford things like clean water and basic treatment.
If you’re keeping track, that’s 3.5 million children dying every year from basic problems that we solved ages ago. Another way to think of it: imagine every kid enrolled in public school in New York City, Los Angeles and Houston dying this year. Imagine, just for a second, all the human potential that we are losing along with these children.
I know you may be thinking that it’s somewhat inevitable that developing countries lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to new vaccines, treatments or procedures, so chew on this for a second: out of a list of 18 developed countries, the United States was at the very bottom when it came to deaths from preventable causes.
For people under the age of 75, these preventable causes account for 23% of total deaths for men and 32% of total deaths for women.
How many more people are we going to let die simply because they lack access to resources that are so plentiful that they are taken for granted by the rest of us?
We have to always remember that the position of privilege we find ourselves in only exists because someone at some point in history fought for our right to good healthcare.
So now, it is our responsibility, our duty, to use this position of privilege to extend this same basic human right to health to the countless people still living without it, not only in our country but across the globe.
Since the latest Ebola outbreak began in March, there have been more than 2,100 reported cases and 1,145 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
This is already by far the most serious Ebola outbreak in recorded history.
But the disease isn’t some super-virus that is spreading through the air and infecting anyone who comes close. The only way it can be spread is through bodily fluids- getting the blood or vomit of a sick person in your eyes, nose, or mouth, or in an open wound.
So it’s actually relatively difficult to contract the disease, if you understand how it spreads. But the problem is that almost everyone who’s becoming infected now does not know how Ebola spreads.
That’s one of the reasons it has spread so fast. You see, an Ebola victim is most infectious right after they die. This is because they have very high-levels of the virus in their blood at that point.
Also, the total destruction of their immune system causes them to start leaking blood from every pore in their body (this is why Ebola is called “hemorrhagic fever”). These secretions cover the skin of the deceased with a thin film containing high concentrations of the virus.
So when the families of victims preform their traditional burial practices, which include kissing and touching the body of the deceased, they give Ebola by far its best opportunity to spread.
This lack of knowledge about how the disease spreads has also caused people to become distrusting of the medical facilities that treat Ebola patients.
“People have no idea how infectious diseases work. They see people go into the hospital sick and come out dead—or never come out at all… They think if they can avoid the hospital they can survive,”
says Dr. Terry O’Sullivan, director of the Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy Research (an American agency that has been aiding in the battle against Ebola).
When Uganda tried to stop the spread of the virus by preventing relatives from seeing their dead family members, it sparked a great deal of hostility and fear.
A rumor spread that the bodies were being kept for nefarious purposes, making the public even more distrusting of foreign health workers (some people believe the foreign health workers were actually the ones who brought the disease to Africa).
When Uganda tried to alleviate the problem by creating a mass graveyard where relatives could see (but not touch) their deceased loved ones, pandemonium broke out.
Villagers ran from the ambulances that transported them there, attacking humanitarian workers and attempting to burn down the hospital. As the Daily Beast’s Abby Haglage put it,
“They feared the disease—but they feared the medicine even more, as well as the people delivering it.”
Yesterday evening, this ignorance manifested itself again when a quarantine center for suspected Ebola patients in West Point, a slum in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia, was attacked and looted by protesters.
The protesters were unhappy that patients were being brought into their community from other parts of the capital, and some even believed that the whole Ebola outbreak was a hoax used to take advantage of them.
20 suspected Ebola patients who were being monitored for symptoms left the center during the attacks, but the real danger comes from the blood-stained sheets and mattresses that were looted by the protesters.
A senior police official in the area expressed worry that the looting spree could spread the virus all over West Point, an area that is home to about 50,000 people, almost all of which live in serious poverty and lack basic health resources.
He called the attack,
“…one of the stupidest things I have ever seen in my life.”
I understand his frustration, but his comment should make us ask ourselves the following question: where did this stupidity come from?
Stupidity is simply a lack of knowledge.
Consider this: in the three countries that have been hit the hardest by this outbreak (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia), literacy rates are between 35% and 45%.
Also, keep in mind that the vast majority of these literate people live in the major cities. In the rural areas, where the disease has really been spreading, literacy rates can be as low as 10%.
What we need to understand about this outbreak is that if we would have invested in educating these people 20 years ago, we would not be spending exorbitant amounts of money now in an attempt to stop a disease whose primary victims don’t even understand how it spreads.
Also, the increased education levels would have probably led to a lot more local people becoming health workers.
Not only would there have been more health workers to deal with the outbreak, but a much larger portion of them would’ve been natives with the trust of the locals, rather than foreign workers who most locals are suspicious of.
The bottom line is that education is the answer to almost every problem in the world. Why? Because it gives people the ability to solve their own problems.
The current Ebola outbreak in Africa is a serious problem. Since it began in March, the outbreak has claimed 729 lives, leaving another 1,300 people with confirmed or suspected infections.
This is by far the most serious and deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus ever. The second most deadly outbreak, in 1976, only had 602 cases and 431 deaths.
Earlier today, Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), spoke to leaders from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (the three most affected countries) in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.
She proposed a $100 million plan to help reverse the tide of the battle against the outbreak by deploying hundreds of additional personnel to reinforce the local and international health workers who have been overwhelmed by the high number of infections.
Chan, in no uncertain terms, stressed the urgency and importance of putting this plan into place:
“This meeting must mark a turning point in the outbreak response.This outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it.”
She also added that the ways things are going now, the chance of the outbreak spreading to other countries is high:
“If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries.”
In her speech, Chan told the leaders that this particular strain of the virus is the most lethal strain in the Ebola virus family. According to the W.H.O., the virus has killed more than half of the people it has infected.
She also talked in detail about how fast and easily the virus has been spreading, as well as pointing that,
“…it has demonstrated its ability to spread via air travel, contrary to what has been seen in past outbreaks.”
The virus is spreading not only in rural areas but also in densely populated cities. Chan warned that if it is not contained quickly, it has the potential to mutate:
“Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of viruses and other microbes. We must not give this virus opportunities to deliver more surprises.”
Luckily, the virus is not yet airborne- it spreads via bodily fluids. If the blood, vomit or feces of an infected person comes in contact with the eyes, nose or mouth of someone else, the infection can be transmitted.
Most of the cases in the current outbreak are people caring for their sick relatives or preparing their bodies for burial. But health workers treating the sick are also at high risk:
“The outbreak is affecting a large number of doctors, nurses and other health care workers, one of the most essential resources for containing an outbreak,”
Chan said at one point during her speech. Just yesterday, Sheik Umar Khan, Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor who had treated over 100 patients, died from the disease himself. It was a massive blow to the country’s efforts to battle the disease.
The W.H.O. says that the $100 million plan “identifies the need” for hundreds of additional personnel in the region. A statement they released said,
“Of greatest need are clinical doctors and nurses, epidemiologists, social mobilization experts, logisticians and data managers.”
The CDC has said that the chances of the outbreak spreading across the Atlantic and taking hold in the United States is slim, mainly because people have to come into direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluid to get the virus.
However, they are still preparing for what they call the “remote possibility” that the outbreak does come to the States.
Though malaria rates have dropped by 42% since 2000, the disease is still expected to kill anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 people this year, with the majority of them being children under the age of five. In fact, malaria is the third largest killer of children worldwide.
And while improving medical technologies and practices have been steadily reducing the number of malaria-related deaths, there is no proven vaccine against the disease.
But a promising new vaccine created by pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) may be about to change that.
The vaccine can’t prevent every single case of malaria, but it has proven to have a very significant impact. During multiple trials of the vaccine, researchers found that on average about 800 cases of malaria could be prevented for every 1,000 children who got the vaccine.
In the most advanced of these trials, 1,500 children in several different African countries received the vaccine. 18 months later, researchers found that the vaccine had nearly halved the number of malaria infections in small children.
The testing also suggests that the vaccine’s impact becomes even more pronounced in areas that have particularly high infection rates.
For example, in a number of Kenyan cities, the researchers were able to prevent about 2,000 cases of malaria with only 1,000 vaccines (many people in the area contract the disease multiple times).
GSK has now applied for regulatory approval of the vaccine from the European Medicine’s Authority. This is the first malaria vaccine to ever reach that step.
Sanjeev Krishna is a professor of Molecular Parasitology and Medicine at St. George’s University of London. He was one of the scientists who peer-reviewed the study before it was published in the journal PLOS Medicine. He had his to say:
“This is a milestone. The landscape of malaria vaccine development is littered with carcasses, with vaccines dying left, right and centre…
We need to keep a watchful eye for adverse events but everything appears on track for the vaccine to be approved as early as next year.”
One of the reasons for this dangerous and hostile environment is that extremist groups like the Taliban spread superstitions that the vaccinators are,
“un-Islamic or Western purveyors of poison meant to sterilize Muslim women.”
One cleric from the Pakistani city of Punjab went so far as to say that the mission of the vaccinators was a Western conspiracy, and that jihad would be launched against polio vaccination teams.
Unfortunately, it seems like the CIA has been giving some legitimacy to these claims of conspiracy. Back in early 2011, when trying to local Osam Bin Laden, the agency tracked a courier to his compound in Abbottabad. They were unsure, however, if Bin Laden was actually there or not.
So, they hired a local doctor to lead a fake vaccination campaign, hoping to get inside the compound under the guise of vaccinating Bin Laden’s many children. The CIA hoped that during these fake vaccinations, the doctor could collect a DNA sample that they could match to Bin Laden’s to confirm he was there.
The doctor, Shakil Afridi, put up flyers all over the city advertising a vaccination drive that would offer free immunization for hepatitis B. He also bypassed health management officials and directly recruited low-level health workers, who, oblivious as to the Bin Laden connection, were eager to take the generous sum he offered.
Eventually, Afridi was able to get one of his nurses into the compound. According to the Guardian, he gave the nurse a handbag which contained some sort of electronic device and waited for her outside.
It is unclear what that device was or whether she planted it in the compound somewhere, but based off the information available, it seems that the operation was unsuccessful in collecting a DNA sample.
Despite this failure, U.S. special forces were still able to take out Bin Laden shortly thereafter on May 2, 2011. Afridi is currently serving 33 years in Pakistani prison for secretly aiding American intelligence agents.
On Monday, the CIA officially announced that they would no longer be carrying out any false vaccination operations. Lisa Monaco, Obama’s top advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, wrote the following in a letter sent to the deans of 12 public health:
“I wanted to inform you that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directed in August 2013 that the agency make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers.
Similarly, the Agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs. This CIA policy applies worldwide and to U.S. and non-U.S. persons alike.”
I recently had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a very intelligent young man named Will Ellis. Like us here at The Higher Learning, Will seeks to find the truth and share it with others through his website Factor4Freedom.com.
So naturally I was thrilled when he agreed to write this exclusive guest piece for The Higher Learning. Will is bold, yet thorough and concise, backing up everything will meticulous sourcing.
This piece convinced me that the issue of fluoride needs to become something that the public is aware of- only then will we be able to do anything about it. I highly suggest you check it out.
Flouride: The Greatest Case of Scientific Fraud in History
By Will Ellis
Have you ever wondered what our teeth would look like without fluoride in our toothpaste and water?Would we all, at worst, have rotten teeth and, at best, have a smile like Austin Powers? Did everyone throughout history just have awful teeth before water was fluoridated in the 1940s?
The answers might surprise you.
To start off, yes, the rate of tooth decay in most countries has decreased since the 1940s. However, according to the World Health Organization, tooth decay rates have decreased in both fluoridated countries and non-fluoridated countries.
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and China have all recognized that water fluoridation is not a safe and fair practice.
What’s wrong with fluoride?
The Health Effects
One of the most comprehensive websites showing studies related to the health effects of fluoride is FluorideAlert.org, which has compiled scientific evidence of fluoride being correlated with or causing arthritis, bone fracture, lower IQ, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, endocrine disruption, kidney disease, male fertility issues, calcification of the pineal gland, skeletal fluorosis and thyroid disease.
This website, like most, is somewhat biased however, so let’s take a look at specific claims in scientific journals:
As of February 20th, 2014, fluoride has been officially classified as a developmental neurotoxin in the same category as arsenic, lead, methylmercury and other industrial chemicals, according to the March 2014 journal Lancet Neurology.
That journal highlighted a Harvard meta-analysis of studies on fluoride exposure and IQ:
“A meta-analysis of 27 cross-sectional studies of children exposed to fluoride in drinking water, mainly from China, suggests an average IQ decrement of about seven points in children exposed to raised fluoride concentrations. Confounding from other substances seemed unlikely in most of these studies.”
The majority of these 27 studies had water fluoride levels of less than four milligrams per liter, which falls under the allowable level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Criticism from Fluoridation Proponents
The majority of these studies are done in countries like China, India and other countries in which other environmental factors could have affected the studies. Also, in many of these areas the natural fluoride levels are significantly higher than the fluoride levels in the United States.
This is a very valid point about the fluoride levels, but the journal article itself even says that it is very unlikely that there were confounding variables.
“The dose makes the poison” is a common argument made by fluoridation proponents because water is now fluoridated at 0.7ppm (part fluoride per million parts water) so there is no way people could consume enough fluoride to be affected negatively. However, very few studies have been done on the bio-accumulative effects of fluoride.
Accumulation of Fluoride
In 1977, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) stated that, for the average individual, retention of 2mg/day would result in crippling skeletal fluorosis after 40 years. In the same report, the NAS stated that approximately half of each day’s fluoride intake is retained. This is what makes it so dangerous.
Both sides agree to the fact that healthy kidneys can eliminate only about 50% of daily fluoride intake. The rest gets absorbed in calcified tissues, like bones and teeth. Considering the above-mentioned intake level, it is likely that some extent of skeletal fluorosis already affects a significant portion of the population.
Now let’s take into account the other sources of fluoride:
If you drink a beer, wine, soft drink, tea, consume lettuce, grapes, raisins, flour, brush with toothpaste, breathe polluted air, bathe in fluoridated water, etc., you are getting more than enough fluoride. It doesn’t evaporate. The epidemic of dental fluorosis in America proves this.
Furthermore, most dentists recommend a pea-sized amount of toothpaste but most people use much more than that. If you swallow more than the amount recommended for brushing with, the label on the tube of toothpaste says that you should “contact a poison control center”. Toothpastes without fluoride in them do not have this warning label.
Also, the amount of fluoride in one pea-sized amount of toothpaste is equal to the amount in 8 ounces of water. Odds are, if you are conscious about health, you drink more than 8 ounces a day. Most fluoridated water contains about 0.7-1.0 ppm (although we do not know since the dose is not controlled well). That means that in 1 liter of water, you would find about 1 mg of fluoride.
So what does this all mean?
The dose of 0.7ppm fluoride in water is not really accurate because it can be much higher or lower in different areas of the country. There is no way to accurately control the dosage.
Fluoride accumulates in the body.
There are many more common sources of fluoride exposure besides water, which means we are being exposed to more fluoride than most authorities are giving credit for.
There is a good chance that the accumulation of fluoride in the bodies of people who drink fluoridated water will lead to negative health effects.
The Fluoride in Our Water Isn’t Natural
Most of the water we drink does not even have naturally occurring fluoride in it. Hexafluorosilicic acid is a common source for water fluoridation. Why? Because it’s cheaper for the phosphate fertilizer industry to dump it into our water supplies than it is to neutralize and get rid of it.
This form of fluoride is not pure, but recovered in crude form by scrubbing the gaseous emissions from the treatment of phosphate ores with sulphuric acid. These ores contain variable amounts of hazardous elements including lead, arsenic, beryllium, vanadium, cadmium, and mercury, therefore any amount of it is doing harm to us as well as to all living things, including coral reefs.
Arizona Fluoride Debate 2012
This public debate is the most unbiased accumulation of knowledge on the subject so if you are skeptical I highly recommend watching it. Below are my final thoughts on the topic and the history and politics behind fluoridation:
We do not NEED fluoride for healthy teeth. Yes, it makes it easier to prevent cavities if you are unhealthy and eat a high-sugar diet, but if you simply changed the way you ate you would never need fluoride in your toothpaste or in your water to have healthy teeth.
If you really care about truth, then do your own research and decide for yourself.
A Shady History
In 1928 Edward Bernays wrote the book Propaganda, which argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy. Bernays helped the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and other special interest groups to convince the American public that water fluoridation was safe and beneficial to human health by using the American Dental Association in a highly successful media campaign.
As veteran journalist John Pilger writes:
Bernays, described as the father of the media age, was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. “Propaganda,” he wrote, “got to be a bad word because of the Germans . . . so what I did was to try and find other words [such as] Public Relations.” Bernays used Freud’s theories about control of the subconscious to promote a “mass culture” designed to promote fear of official enemies and servility to consumerism. It was Bernays who, on behalf of the tobacco industry, campaigned for American women to take up smoking as an act of feminist liberation, calling cigarettes “torches of freedom”; and it was his notion of disinformation that was deployed in overthrowing governments, such as Guatemala’s democracy in 1954.
Prior to 1950, the ADA, the USPHS, and the American Medical Association (AMA) were all strongly opposed to the human consumption of fluoride in any form or concentration. In 1950, the USPHS did an obvious flip flop and began to strongly recommend the artificial fluoridation of public drinking water.
Andrew W. Mellon co-founded/financially-backed ALCOA and later founded the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research in 1913. In 1921 he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) under his control.
Medical information was made available to public health agencies only upon approval of the industrial provider of the research grant. Agreements between ALCOA and institutions of higher learning clearly specified that,
“Confidential information obtained from the Donor shall not be published without permission of said Donor.” 8
Another conflict of interest is shown with University of Pittsburgh biochemist and research fellow at the Mellon Institute, Dr. Gerald Cox, who worked for two organizations. One, the leading aluminum company (ALCOA), faced with litigation for disposing of fluoride waste into waterways; and two, the Sugar Institute of New York, whose aim was to stop recognition of sugar as a cause of dental disease.
If fluoride could be seen as a nutrient, rather than as a poison, and if cavities could be avoided without restricting sugar consumption, both sponsors would be happy.
Cox’s idea would turn the burden of an undesirable waste into corporate profit.
Lastly, in 1947, ALCOA attorney, Oscar Ewing, had been appointed director of the U.S. Federal Security Agency, which directed the USPHS. There is a clear conflict of interest here. Following Ewing’s national PHS fluoridation promotion, and lobbying from Frank Bull’s Wisconsin dental group, on “June 1, 1950, the PHS announced, ‘Communities desiring to fluoridate their communal water supplies should be strongly encouraged to do so.’ This endorsement was followed five months later by the American Dental Association, and others.”
For these reasons, among many others, I agree with former EPA scientist Robert Carlton, Ph. D, when he said,
“Fluoridation is the greatest case of scientific -fraud of this century.”
BONUS: Is Fluoride Severing Our Spiritual Connection?
Fluoride is also clinically proven to calcify the pineal gland. This gland was once called “the seat of the soul” by Rene Descartes, and evidence has led some scientists to believe that it may also produce dimethyltriptamine (DMT) aka the “Spirit Molecule,” which is a naturally occurring hallucinogen found in all life forms. DMT was found in the pineal gland of rodents (Strassman, 2013) and studies show that meditation increases melatonin production significantly more than rest, meaning that it likely activates the pineal gland.
It is proven that this build-up of fluoride and calcium in the pineal gland is correlated with aging, which makes sense: as people get older they tend to sleep less and we know that the pineal gland produces melatonin. If the pineal gland is proven to produce DMT, it would explain why many experienced meditators report having spiritual experiences.
“The fifty-year-old fluoridation hypothesis has not been confirmed. Despite this, millions of people are still medicated with fluoride by government decree, on the assumption that this process has been proved to be entirely safe, and very efficacious in reducing dental caries. In fact, the scientific basis of fluoridation is very unsatisfactory. It is promoted, in the main, by emotion-based ‘endorsements’ rather than by scientifically-acceptable evidence.” PubMed PMID: 3059145
Junco, L.I. et al, “Renal Failure and Fluorosis”, Fluorine & Dental Health, JAMA 222:783 – 785, 1972)
(National Academy of Sciences: Toxicological Risk of Fluoride in Drinking Water, 2006)
National Academy of Science Review: Fluoride in Drinking Water (2006)
RESOLUTIONS, # 11, Fluoridation of the Public Water Supplies, AJPH, 40:1587, 12/50
Dental Health of the Nations Children Furthered by the Actions of the House of Delegates, JADA, 41:722,12/50
Fluoridation of Drinking Water Harmless: Statement by American Medical Association, JADA, 43:733, 12/51
Proceedings, Forth Annual Conference of State Dental Directors with The Public Health Service and The Children’s Bureau, June 6-8, 1951, Department of Health, Education and Welfare call number RK 21.C55, 1951
Wollan, M., Controlling the Potential Hazards of Government-Sponsored Technology, The George Washington Law Review, 36:5:1105, 07/68
COX, GERALD J.; MATUSCHAK, MARGARET C.; DIXON, SARA F.; DODDS, MARY L.; WALKER, W. E. // Journal of Dental Research;Dec1939, Vol. 18 Issue 6, p. 481
Murray N. Rothbard Fluoridation Revisited. The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, January 1993
Contract Agreement Between Aluminum Co. of America and U. of Cincinnati, signed by N. P. Auburn, Vice-President and Dean of Administration (April 30, 1947). Testimony McCarthy vs. The Cincinnati Inquirer, l956.
Barker SA, Borjigin J, Lomnicka I, Strassman R (Jul 2013). “LC/MS/MS analysis of the endogenous dimethyltryptamine hallucinogens, their precursors, and major metabolites in rat pineal gland microdialysate.”. Biomed Chromatogr. doi:10.1002/bmc.2981. PMID 23881860
“Will Ellis is the founder of Factor4Freedom.com, a blog on Self-Mastery and Credible Spirituality, and he is a truth seeker on a mission to help the world realize what actually makes us feel happy and alive.”
In a recent interview with the medical research and news website The Lancet, Chen Zhu, who retired from his post as Minister of Health last year, estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 people die each year from the air pollution in China.
Chen, who is also a professor of medicine and renowned molecular biologist, noted that China, “now produces the largest number of major pollutants in the world”.
In the last 30 years, the rate of lung cancer has increased by 465%, almost doubling between 2002 and 2011.
Until very recently, China kept strict censors on its health information, notably removing a joint report from the World Health Organization and China’s own government that claimed that air pollution caused 350,000-400,000 premature deaths in 2007.