The dangers of water fluoridation have been hotly debated for decades. But this week, they’re hitting a little too close to home for me.
My city of Portland, Oregon is putting to public vote a measure that would allow for the first time in history, the chemical fluoridation of Portland’s water supply. Our water comes from one of the most pristine water reserves on the planet, but it could soon be in jeopardy of having over a million pounds of chemical toxins dumped into it, all under the guise of a concern for “public health.”
The truth is that water fluoridation is an outdated, dangerous, and ineffective practice which has been labeled by many professionals and even Nobel scientists as “obsolete.”
Here’s 8 reasons why the water fluoridation debate needs to be reexamined, in light of the obvious scientific evidence that proves such a point.
1.) 41% of adolescents have permanently damaged teeth due to fluoride
Ironically, the big pro-fluoride campaign going on locally here in Portland calls itself, “Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland.” Their slogan? “Everyone deserves healthy teeth.”
Everyone deserves healthy teeth? I’m with you there, but unfortunately, water fluoridation has been shown to be much more damaging to teeth than it is health-promoting.
CDC data shows that 41% of adolescents suffer from dental fluorosis, a medical condition resulting from overexposure to fluoride, which causes white and brown discoloration, mottling, staining and often permanent damage to the teeth. In severe cases, there is chipping, pitting, and erosion of the tooth. Does that sound like fluoride is making teeth stronger to you?
The condition is a biomarker that the individual has been overexposed to fluoride during the developmental stages of the teeth—it is by definition a symptom of fluoride toxicity. And the dose of fluoride that’s supposedly effective at preventing cavities, very nearly approaches the dose at which fluoride damages teeth due to toxicity. This ought to be a huge concern for this issue, especially considering that once fluoride is in the water supply, it is impossible to monitor the dose for the individual.
“It is important to recognize that a relatively narrow margin of safety may exist for development of dental fluorosis among children consuming fluoridated drinking water or consuming fluoride supplements.” American Academy of Family Physicians
What’s worse, the damaged teeth are only evidence of a small part of what’s going on inside the rest of the body. While they are not considered bone, teeth are a part of the body’s skeletal system. If this is what it’s doing to teeth, it’s not a stretch to have concerns over the damage being done to the rest of that system. There is another condition which is becoming more widespread that is skeletal fluorosis, in which the bones become weakened and brittle due to the destructive effects of fluoride. This is also due to overexposure of fluoride chemicals. Water fluoridation has been shown to increase the risk of hip fracture in the elderly by as much as 40%, and fluoride toxicity has been shown to cause osteoarthritis, not prevent it.
2. Fluoride is a drug which has NEVER been approved by the FDA for widespread use by the general public
The fluoride chemical used to fluoridate water supplies is actually considered an “unapproved drug” by the FDA, with which the population in areas of fluoridated water supply are being medicated without their consent, and without any control over the dosage.
Infants, the elderly, those with kidney and thyroid problems are at an even greater risk for serious adverse effects.
Even healthy individuals are only able to excrete 50-60% of fluoride ingested every day through their kidneys. The rest of it bio-accumulates in the body, putting the user at risk of toxicity. So people with lowered kidney function, such as those with only one kidney or with kidney disease, are at a much greater risk for fluoride toxicity, especially since their dosage of the drug is completely unmonitored for safety.
While many people do wish to use fluoride for prevention or treatment of tooth decay, that doesn’t make it universally safe or acceptable for everyone to be forcefully medicated along with them. Many people have high blood pressure. Does that mean we should start putting blood pressure medication into the public drinking water? Fluoridating the water supply to medicate against tooth decay is equally ludicrous.
There is no benefit to the water itself that justifies treating it with fluoride chemicals. It isn’t like chlorine, which is needed to treat pathogens in the water to make it safer to drink. Fluoride is the only chemical that goes into the water for the purposes of treating the people who ingest it, not the water. With a medication unapproved by the FDA, and labeled a toxin by the EPA.
Proponents argue that fluoridation levels in the water supply are carefully monitored to stay within safety standards. But what this does not address is the actual dosage with which the general public will be medicated. We do not all drink the same amount of water. Not only that, but the same amount of water, with the same dosage of fluoride, can have drastically different effects on the individual, based on weight, health, and stage of physical development.
20 ounces of fluoridated water per day may not be harmful to a 200-pound man, but can be devastating to the health of an infant—which is why even the American Dental Association (the largest proponent of water fluoridation) issued a warning in 2006 stating that fluoridated water should not be used in preparing infant formula.
They have since changed their stance, and say that it is “safe” to use fluoridated water in infant formula, but admit that there is a risk for dental enamel fluorosis. Which is essentially, fluoride poisoning. Notably, the CDC has also issued a warning against the use of fluoridated water in infant formula.
The Institute of Medicine has stated that optimum fluoride intake for a baby under 6 months of age is just .01 mg per day. That’s about the amount of the natural fluoride which would be found in breast milk. Formula-fed babies ingesting fluoridated water at the concentration proposed in Portland of .7 ppm, would be ingesting no less than 70 TIMES that recommended limit. SEVENTY.
But fluoridated water isn’t the only source of fluoride the average person is exposed to. Fluoride in toothpaste, pesticide residues on the foods we eat (fluoride is a common component of chemical pesticides), in tea, processed beverages, soups, and other foods made with fluoridated water (and pesticide-laden ingredients) all add up to our daily dosage of the drug. And just the average dental products one uses alone are often enough to cause an overdose of fluoride.
The Journal of Public Health Dentistry states:
”Virtually all authors have noted that some children could ingest more fluoride from [toothpaste] alone than is recommended as a total daily fluoride ingestion.” (Levy 1999)
Now add that toothpaste to fluoride-filled mouthwash, a glass of fluoridated water at every meal, all the fluoride-contaminated fruits and vegetables eaten in a day, and any processed foods or beverages consumed. Do you know at this point how much of this potentially dangerous drug you are consuming?
3. The dental health benefits of fluoride have only been demonstrated for topical application, not from drinking fluoridated water
Ingested fluoride has never been proven to be beneficial for preventing tooth decay. Fluoride’s effectiveness in the prevention of tooth decay has only been proven in instances of topical application, not from systemic dosages.
Even the CDC has clearly stated that “[Fluoride’s] actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.”
After decades of believing there was a systemic benefit from ingestion of fluoridated water, newer scientific developments show that isn’t the case. That’s partially because fluoride is not an essential nutrient necessary for support of the body’s structures and tissues. It’s a drug, and one that requires a specific method of application in order to be effective.
Let me ask you this—if you wanted to prevent skin damage from sunburn, wouldn’t you apply sunscreen to your skin? Or would you swallow it?
Drinking fluoride for prevention of tooth decay makes about as much sense.
4. Water fluoridation chemicals are an industrial waste byproduct, NOT the pharmaceutical grade found in toothpaste
Even pharmaceutical-grade sodium fluoride is known to be toxic. Have you noticed that many children’s training toothpastes are fluoride-free? That’s because they’re assuming that children will swallow the paste, and the amount of fluoride normally found in toothpaste is toxic, so they don’t want to be liable for children ingesting it.
For the same reason, toothpaste that does contain fluoride always comes with labels warning against swallowing the toothpaste. If a child were to get a hold of fluoridated toothpaste and eat the whole thing, it could be fatal. But even when used properly, the warning stands to not ingest the fluoridated toothpaste, even for adults.
That’s why in 1997, the FDA ordered toothpaste manufacturers to add a poison warning on all fluoride toothpastes sold in the U.S. The warning:
“Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”
So why, then, would it be okay to ingest the same amount of fluoride in your toothpaste, in the form of a glass of fluoridated water?
The amount of fluoride found in a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is the same amount found in a 12-ounce glass of fluoridated water. Suddenly that’s okay to swallow? Would you be okay with drinking your toothpaste, in spite of those warning labels?
Worse yet, the drug with which cities are dumping into their water supply is not even the pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride found in toothpaste. It’s literally an industrial waste product from the phosphate fertilizer industry.
A chapter of the National Treasury Employee’s Union for the EPA explains:
91% of Americans ingesting artificially fluoridated water are consuming silicofluorides1. This is a class of fluoridation chemicals that includes hydrofluosilicic acid and its salt form, sodium fluorosilicate. These chemicals are collected from the pollution scrubbers of the phosphate fertilizer industry. The scrubber liquors contain contaminants such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, and radioactive particles2, are legally regulated as toxic waste, and are prohibited from direct dispersal into the environment. Upon being sold (unrefined) to municipalities as fluoridating agents, these same substances are then considered a “product”, allowing them to be dispensed through fluoridated municipal water systems to the very same ecosystems to which they could not be released directly.”
Statement of Concern by NTEU 280, Environmental Protection Agency National Headquarters
Did you catch that? The exact same substance legally regulated as toxic waste, is being sold to municipal water suppliers and dumped into your drinking water.
For decades, factories in the phosphate industry were pumping out two very poisonous gases into the air—hydrogen fluoride, and silicone tetrafluoride. Once it was determined that these pollutants should not be released into the environment, the manufacturers were then required to capture these chemicals with a process that uses water to convert the gases into hexafluorosilicic acid or hydrofluorosilicic acid. Still toxic, still a waste product, still a pollutant that’s illegal to release into the environment. And it’s very costly to dispose of—unless of course, you decide to sell it as a health product. Which is exactly what they do with it. The very same toxic environmental pollutant, fluorosilicic acids, go straight into the water supply, unfiltered.
So, to recap: they can’t pump it into the air, and they can’t dump it into oceans, lakes, and streams. But put it into big tanker trucks and haul it off to the water facility— and just like that— it’s suddenly okay to drink and keeps your teeth “healthy!” Don’t you just love magic?!
5. It’s NOT just fluoride—lead, mercury chromium, and arsenic routinely contaminate water fluoridation chemicals
Part of the reason why the scrubber liquors from the phosphate industry are legally considered toxic waste is because they are contaminated with arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxic components and heavy metals.
Even the CDC admits that 43% of fluoridation chemicals contain arsenic, while 2% contain lead, and still other toxins such as mercury and chromium have been proven to be found in water fluoridation chemicals.
Water fluoridation proponents like to pretend that small amounts of these toxins are inconsequential, however, many experts acknowledge that these are not within safe levels for all people drinking the contaminated water.
“The private/publically funded National Sanitation Foundation that oversees the drinking water fluoride chemical mixtures lists toxic and carcinogenic heavy metals such as; Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, etc. as contaminants. These are metalloestrogens, also known as endocrine disruptors that can have negative public health effects. There is no safe level for children.”
If you’re lucky enough to have “safe” levels of lead in your fluoridated drinking water, your risk doesn’t end there. Water fluoridation chemicals have been shown to leach lead from plumbing fixtures.
A combination of chemicals found in chlorine-treated and fluoridated water, chloramines and fluorosilicic acid, leaches lead from meters, solder and plumbing systems, according to Richard P. Maas, PhD and Steven C. Patch PhD, co-directors of the Environmental Quality Institute at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.
In a recent report, Haas stated,“Tests showed lead levels three and four times higher in water with that combination of chemicals …About 500 systems, across the country, have switched to chloramine treatment since 2001…and most also use fluorosilicic acid.”
Paul Connett, PhD, Professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, added that “No amount of lead is safe for a young child’s developing brain.”
6.) 99% of those water fluoridation chemicals aren’t going to your teeth—they’re polluting the environment.
It’s illegal to dump fluoride into lakes, streams and oceans.
But as we’ve established, somehow it’s still okay to dump it into our water supply. What’s ironic about that, is that 99% of the water used in a home goes right back out into those lakes, streams, and oceans anyway, instead of being consumed. People only end up drinking a tiny percentage of the water, while the rest is flushed down the toilet, or the drain, or showered onto the lawn. And any pollutants that are in the water, end up in the environment.
The Safe Drinking Water Act, the main federal law designed to ensure the safety of drinking water in the US, has made the dumping of industrial waste products, including the very same fluoride chemicals used in water supplies, an illegal practice. Water fluoridation is simply a loophole that the phosphate industry has found, to not only avoid breaking the law, but to profit off of their environmental destruction.
Here in Portland, if the water fluoridation were to pass, we’d be dumping 1.1 million pounds of fluoridation chemicals into the drinking water every year. And most of that would end up in the Willamette and Columbia rivers, where it will pose a threat to our salmon and wildlife. Fluoride is toxic to salmon at less than a third of the concentration that would be added to the drinking water, which is why major conservation groups such as the Sierra Club oppose water fluoridation.
7. Fluoridated water linked to bone fractures, reduced I.Q., thyroid damage, cancer, and more
Fluoride is a very active chemical that has the potential to seriously alter many systems of the body. It is considered a mutagen, meaning fluoride is a compound which can alter DNA and cause genetic damage. It can can also interfere with both the thyroid and pineal glands, affecting nearly all systems of the body. The thyroid gland and pineal gland are highly involved with brain development. During critical developmental stages, the blood-brain barrier is not yet fully formed, making it even easier for fluoride’s systemic interference to affect brain function.
“Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain. The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious, especially because the brain power of the next generation is crucial to all of us.”
Recent science supports the position that fluoride is much more dangerous than previously believed, and that the risks outweigh the benefits. A report in 2006 from the National Academy of Sciences reviewed hundreds of studies linking fluoridated drinking water to neurological damage, thyroid disorders, and bone cancer.
The report specified that “fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain,” which was further demonstrated in 2012 when Harvard reported that 26 of the 27 studies they reviewed found that childhood IQ decreased with increased fluoride concentrations.
- Dental fluorosis
- Cystic acne (fluoroderma)
- Skeletal fluorosis
- Osteoporosis and bone fracture
- Endocrine disruption
- Thyroid disease
- Down syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain damage
- Cardiovascular disease
- Male infertility
Does that sound risky enough to make you rethink the supposed benefits of water fluoridation?
The Department of Health and Human Services agrees. In 2011, compelled by the science to support these health risks, the DHS recommended reducing the maximum fluoride concentration for fluoridated water by 40%.
And with 41% of adolescents presenting with dental fluorosis—which is fluoride toxicity—shouldn’t we all be concerned that these mounting health risks will only continue to threaten the next generation?
8. Fluoridation’s safety and effectiveness has never been proven by a single randomized controlled trial. Ever.
A randomized, controlled trial is widely considered the “gold standard” for medical treatments, which is why drugs usually do not receive approval by the FDA without having this type of trial.
That’s a big reason why hydrofluorosilicic acid is a drug which has not been approved by the FDA. There has never been even one randomized, controlled trial to demonstrate the supposed benefits and safety of water fluoridation that the pro-fluor campaign continues to promote as fact.
Because of the lack of evidence pointing to its safety and efficacy, and the mounting evidence showing the risks and dangers of fluoridation, most of the rest of western civilization sees water fluoridation as dangerous, ineffective, and illogical. So they don’t do it. Or more accurately, the vast majority of the world.
There are more people drinking fluoridated water in the United States, than in the rest of the world combined. That really ought to make you think twice about how necessary, beneficial, or safe water fluoridation is being portrayed as.
Most western countries do not fluoridate their water, and yet the rates of tooth decay have declined at the same rate as the U.S. and other areas with water fluoridation. It’s not the fluoride that’s responsible for cutting down on dental caries.
“Although the prevalence of caries varies between countries, levels everywhere have fallen greatly in the past three decades, and national rates of caries are now universally low. This trend has occurred regardless of the concentration of fluoride in water or the use of fluoridated salt, and it probably reflects use of fluoridated toothpastes and other factors, including perhaps aspects of nutrition.”
In fact, studies and data from all over the world show that fluoridated water does not reduce the number of decayed teeth; water fluoridation has at best, a trivial and non-statistically-significant effect on the number of decayed tooth surfaces; fluoride does not prevent oral health crises in low-income communities; tooth decay does not go up when fluoridation is stopped; and that fluoridation is much more likely to cause dental fluorosis than it is to prevent tooth decay.
With all this evidence against fluoridation, it begs the question—if the risks of fluoride toxicity have been so well-documented, and the benefits of water fluoridation so thoroughly debunked, why do we continue to fluoridate our water?
Well, according to Bill Hirzy, a chemist in the EPA’s Office of Toxic Substances, water fluoridation remains a government policy because of “institutional inertia [and] embarrassment among government agencies that have been promoting this stuff as safe.”
So, we just don’t want to admit that we’re wrong about this, at the expense of the health of current and future generations? This has to end. We need to put aside the politics, and start protecting ourselves and our kids.
It’s time to stop the unethical practice of water fluoridation
If water fluoridation is threatening the health and safety of your community and family, take action! Contact members of your local government and give them information about the dangers of water fluoridation. Join fluoride education campaigns and activism. Consider making a tax-deductible donation to the largest and most effective anti-fluoride coalition, the Fluoride Action Network.
And above all, spread the word! It’s going to take a great deal of effort to bring about awareness and educate the public against the misinformation about fluoride they’ve been receiving for decades.
For more information on water fluoridation, see these articles and websites:
The Case Against Water Fluoridation, Small Footprint Family
Top 10 Dangers of Fluoride, Cheeseslave
Harvard Study Confirms Lowered IQ in Children Exposed to Fluoride, The Healthy Home Economist
The Great Culling: Your Fluoride Fears are Well-Founded, Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Your Water Filter Can’t Stop Fluoride, But it Should, Mommypotamus
Fluoride-Ready Water Filters
Almost all common home water filtration systems do NOT filter out fluoride. You can find top-quality water filtration systems that DO effectively filter fluoride, here at the Village Green Marketplace.
How do you feel about water fluoridation?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.