Water fluoridation is the practice of adding fluoride compounds to the public water supply for the purpose of reducing tooth decay. In 1945 three North American cities began to fluoridate their water on a trial basis. The trial was to last 15 years to test for safety and efficacy, however, in 1950 before any of the trials were completed, mass fluoridation on a national scale was endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service. Currently 72% of Americans get their water from fluoridated municipal water systems.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has heavily promoted water fluoridation for over 60 years and in 1999 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) called water fluoridation “one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century”. Few other countries would agree. In fact, there are more Americans drinking fluoridated water than the rest of the world combined. Most developed nations including 97% of Western Europe have rejected fluoridation for health and ethical reasons. Yet according to statistics published by the World Health Organization, their teeth are just as healthy or better than those of Americans.
The history of water fluoridation began in the U.S. with the rapid growth of technology in the early 20th century. This resulted in an explosion of industrial factories that produced toxic fluoride emissions. Of particular concern were the fluorocarbons and aluminum slated to perform a major military role during World War II. By 1938, companies such as the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) were on a wartime schedule and releasing masses of fluoride into the environment causing nearby livestock and residents to become ill. Lawsuits were filed and companies were concerned that public outcry could force government regulations, cost billions in pollution control, and eliminate profitable technologies.
Around that time it was discovered that children born in Colorado Springs, CO developed teeth that were mottled with a brown stain. This phenomenon appeared in other areas of the country, including Bauxite, Arkansas, a company town owned by ALCOA. Dental researchers discovered that the deformed stained teeth had a higher resistance to decay than in other geographic areas. They conjectured that the problem stemmed from the water supply but they didn’t know why. When ALCOA’s chief chemist heard of this he analyzed a water sample from Bauxite and found that the water had high levels of fluoride which had seeped into the water supply from the aluminum plant. Water from the other areas with stained teeth tested high for fluoride as well leading dentists to surmise that fluoride interfered with the healthy formation of teeth. They called this condition dental fluorosis. Concerned about further lawsuits, in a brilliant stroke of genius ALCOA sought to determine how much fluoride could safely be ingested to “strengthen” teeth without causing disfiguring fluorosis. With that information in hand, they could dispose of the fluoride by adding it to the water supply to prevent tooth decay.
Unlike calcium fluoride found in nature, the fluoride by-products of industry are toxic compounds that were never meant for human consumption. Spring water and unpolluted fresh surface waterways are typically very low in fluoride, though water from deep wells such as those in Colorado Springs and other parts of the world can contain toxic levels of fluoride. Dental fluorosis is not just a harmless cosmetic effect, but a sign of systemic fluoride poisoning that affects the entire body.
It is interesting to note that during the late 1930s, the U.S. Public Health Service was under the jurisdiction of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, a founder and major stockholder of ALCOA. ALCOA-funded scientist Gerald Cox conducted studies on lab rats and concluded that fluoride reduced dental caries. In 1939 the first public proposal to fluoridate U.S. water supplies was made not by a doctor or dentist, but by an industry scientist working for a company threatened by fluoride damage lawsuits. In 1947 former ALCOA chief counsel Oscar Ewing was appointed head of the Federal Security Agency which was in charge of the Public Health Service and the national water fluoridation campaign began. Industry now had a handy government-sanctioned way to dispose of its hazardous fluoride waste which not only did not cost them anything, but established a new source of income as cities paid them to dump millions of gallons of this poison into their water supplies.
The flawed industry-funded studies were presented to dentists and doctors to convince them to endorse and promote water fluoridation. From the onset, however, there was resistance to the idea. Some of the earliest opponents of fluoridation were biochemists and at least 14 Nobel Prize winners. Since then over 3,000 medical professionals and scientists have spoken out against water fluoridation. One of the most vocal opponents is Paul Connett, PhD, Executive Director of Fluoride Action Network www.fluoridealert.org and coauthor of the book “The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics that Keep it There”. He points out that the promotion of fluoridation is based upon the exercise of political power and not on rational analysis.
The fluoride chemicals currently added to 90% of fluoridated water systems are silicofluoride compounds captured from the wet scrubbing systems of the phosphate fertilizer industry in the U.S. and China. Silicofluorides are 85% more toxic than naturally occurring calcium fluoride and contain other toxic substances including lead, aluminum, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, trace amounts of radionucleotides and other contaminants. Silicofluorides do not have to be refined or filtered before being dumped into the public water supply. Every year approximately 143,000 tons of this toxic waste is dispersed into our water and contaminates the environment. The reduction in the salmon and frog population has been linked to fluoride toxicity. Chemicals that would cost companies about $7,000 per tanker in disposal fees are sold to cities at approximately $265 per ton.
Studies on fluoride safety have only been done on the pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride used by dentists for topical application. Only two studies have been done on the silicofluorides added to drinking water and found that these compounds increase lead accumulation in blood up to seven times and in bone, teeth, and the pineal gland.
For decades, fluoride has been added to water at recommended levels of 1 ppm (parts per million), until that level was lowered to 0.7 ppm in 2012. Scientists classify fluoride as being more toxic than lead and almost as toxic as arsenic, yet the recommended 0.7 ppm level of fluoride is 46 times higher than the permissible level for lead of 0.015 ppm set by EPA management. EPA’s own scientists have stated that the public water supply should not be used as a vehicle for disseminating this toxic and useless substance.
Fluoride is not an essential nutrient. According to the National Research Council report of 2006, no disease has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency and it has never been shown that ingested fluoride is needed for any biological process or to produce decay-free teeth. In fact, the FDA classifies fluoride as an unapproved new drug. Fluoride is virtually non-existent in human breast milk, even in mothers who drink fluoridated water.
Both the CDC and ADA recommend fluoride to prevent tooth decay. However, in 1989 the largest survey ever conducted in the U.S. of over 39,000 children from 84 communities by the National Institute of Dental Research showed little difference in tooth decay among children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. According to a 2001 report by the CDC, fluoride’s benefits are topical and not systemic. Dental researchers also admit that fluoride is ineffective at preventing pit and fissure tooth decay, which is 85% of the tooth decay in children. A national CDC survey found that Kentucky, the most fluoridated state in the U.S., suffers the highest rate of tooth loss (44%), while Hawaii, the least fluoridated state, has the lowest rate of tooth loss at 16%.
Fluoride is a pharmacologically active substance unrelated to water purification and is the only chemical added to water to treat humans. If fluoride is indeed a drug as stated by the FDA, then mandatory water fluoridation is experimental medication delivered on a mass scale without the public’s consent and violates the Nuremberg Code of medical ethics and human rights. Because there is no way to control water consumption, unlike other medications, it is impossible to regulate the dosage of fluoride an individual receives.
In addition to fluoridated water, Americans ingest fluoride from other sources such as beverages and foods prepared with fluoridated water, residue from fluoride pesticides, Teflon pans, fluoride medications including some antibiotics and antidepressants, and fluoridated toothpaste. A 1991 Public Health Service report showed that U.S. children were ingesting three times the safe dose of fluoride from these sources. The CDC now advises against mixing powdered infant formula with fluoridated water. According to labels on fluoridated toothpaste, poison control should be called if you swallow a ¼ mg of fluoride from toothpaste. Meanwhile, just one glass of water can contain this amount of fluoride. To remain within “safe” limits, you would have to use such a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste that one tube would last you several years! Most fluoridated water ends up in the environment contaminating water and soil in which our food is grown. Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of fluoride without even drinking fluoridated water.
Carbon/activated charcoal water filters do not remove fluoride. Distillation removes fluoride from water and reverse osmosis removes about 80% of the fluoride, but both of these methods remove all of the other beneficial minerals from water as well, creating “hungry water” that can chelate essential minerals from the body. Low income populations in fluoridated areas that cannot afford to purify their water or buy unfluoridated bottled water are especially at risk. The real cause of tooth decay is a poor diet containing sugar and refined carbohydrates, not fluoride deficiency.
Only 50% of the fluoride ingested is excreted by the kidneys, and 90% of the fluoride that remains is concentrated in the calcifying tissues of the body including the teeth, bones, joints, and pineal gland as well as the brain and testes. Fluoride is a cumulative toxin and can lead to serious health problems that are not immediately linked to fluoride exposure.
According to a recent national survey by the CDC, 41% of American teenagers have dental fluorosis showing up as cloudy spots and streaks on the teeth in mild cases and brown stains and tooth erosion in severe cases. Dental fluorosis is symptomatic of systemic fluoride poisoning which may affect all of the bones. Skeletal fluorosis manifests as chronic joint pain, arthritic symptoms, osteoporosis, and in severe cases, spinal compression, crippling pain, muscle wasting, neurological deficits, weak bones, fractures (including hip fractures in the elderly), and osteosarcoma.
The pineal gland, which produces melatonin and regulates the biological clock, has the highest concentration of fluoride accumulation of any organ in the body. Studies show that fluoride interferes with melatonin production, disrupting sleep and increasing the risk of infections and cancer. Studies show that fluoride exposure can also cause early onset of puberty.
The thyroid gland is a major target for fluoride. Fluoride can take the place of iodine in the thyroid gland. This can cause goiters and a decrease in thyroid hormone production resulting in hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroid are depression, fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pain, and cognitive dysfunction. In the U.S. thyroid medication is the second most prescribed drug. Fluoride also impairs glucose tolerance, damages the stomach lining, and contributes to kidney stones, kidney disease, and severe eye problems.
There have been 27 human studies and over 100 animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage. 23 studies in 4 countries indicate that moderate exposure to fluoride lowers IQ. The daily fluoride dose recommended by the ADA results in fluoride blood levels associated with an 8 point drop in IQ. Fluoride also increases the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fluoride deactivates 62 enzymes and inhibits more than 100 others. It impairs antioxidant defense systems and inhibits the movement of white blood cells by 70%, decreasing their ability to fight infection and protect against cancer. Research shows that fluoride damages sperm and causes genetic damage and cell death.
With abundant evidence on the folly of water fluoridation so readily available now, it is clear that this outdated and dangerous practice must come to an end. In truth, it’s amazing that it has been going on as long as it has. Since 1990, over 300 communities in the U.S. and Canada have rejected water fluoridation. Go to www.fluoridealert.org for the latest research, news, and actions on water fluoridation. For an excellent review of both sides of the issue go to www.fluoridedebate.com.