Recently I read some articles about the desire to discontinue adding fluoride to our water systems. As I evaluated the pros and cons of this debate I remembered a chance encounter I had with a gentleman named Harry I. Davidson. This was in 1978 when I was in college. On the day that we met, I was walking and met Harry I. Davidson while I was waiting at a stop light. At the time I was wearing my volleyball shirt, from the days when I was on a volleyball team in high school. The shirt had our mascot, which was a tiger, with the initials of our town BRF set against the bright orange shirt.
On that day this little, old gentleman came up to me and said, he knew where BRF was and he was curious about what my association was with that town. As we talked Harry introduced himself and we started discussing topic after topic. I don’t remember all of the discussions, but I know I missed several green lights at the cross walk.
There is one topic that I have clearly remembered from that day. I don’t even know why this discussion has stuck with me for so many years. Harry was telling me that fluoride was bad and that it was a poison. He was very adamant about this position. He also told me that he believed it was a method for our government to control the longevity of populations, implying that fluoride shortens an individual’s life span. Soon Harry and I parted ways, and I thought to myself that it was very interesting and wondered if it was true. At the time I was anti-establishment, like many college students, but wasn’t necessarily a conspiracy theorist. What he told me didn’t surprise me. Till now I tucked that conversation into the back of my mind, until this day when I was reading about fluoride in our water systems.
After reading these news articles, I did a little research about fluoride and I found that there were groups throughout our country proposing that we discontinue putting fluoride in our water. One of the groups is called Florida Action Group, who cites that there are many health effects that can be related to fluoride.
History of Fluoride in our Water
Prior to 1945, fluoride was regarded as an environmental pollutant. Many industries were associated with it as a pollutant, such as aluminum industry or the phosphate fertilizer industry.
As a result of public relations campaigns, fluoride was transformed from an environmental pollutant to an essential nutrient necessary for producing healthy teeth. Industries not only made millions from selling this environmental pollutant to water companies and toothpaste companies, but more importantly, it saved billions of dollars that would be required to clean up this environmental pollutant.1
As a result of this transformation, fluoride has made its way into our water systems, our toothpaste, and other oral hygiene products. Fluoride has been used to fight tooth decay in children. The original studies indicated it should be used to improve the quality of children’s teeth, but were performed in 1945 and are now being questioned due to lack of quality in the testing process.
Since then there have been studies that indicate that fluoride does not appear to have any decay preventing success. It did not matter whether a child grew up in fluoridated, non-fluoridated or partially fluoridated communities. (Yiamouyiannis, J.A. “Water Fluoridation and Tooth Decay: Results from the 1986-87 National Survey of U.S.
There have also been studies that examined the teeth of every child in key age groups, and have found that the teeth of children in non-fluoridated cities were slightly better than those in the fluoridated cities. (Colquhoun, J. “Child Dental Health Differences in New Zealand”, Community Healthy Services, XI 85-90, 1987).
The most recognized problem with the ingestion of too much fluoride is dental fluorosis. This condition is characterized by the failure of tooth enamel to crystallize properly in permanent teeth. The effects range from chalky, opaque blotching of teeth to severe, rust-colored stains, surface pitting and tooth brittleness.
Meanwhile the medical community has begun to talk about the related dangers of fluoride. From 1990 to 1992, the Journal of the American Medical Association published three separate articles linking increased hip fracture rates to fluoride in the water. In the March 22, 1990 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Mayo Clinic researchers reported that fluoride treatment of osteoporosis increased hip fracture rate and bone fragility.
The also cite some key findings regarding fluoride which include:
1) The addition of fluoride to water for the purpose of preventing tooth decay began in the 1940s with the belief that fluoride’s primary benefit came from ingestion of fluoride during the tooth-forming years. It is now acknowledged by the dental research community, however, that fluoride’s primary benefit comes from topical contact with teeth, and not from ingestion as previously assumed. It is also now acknowledged that fluoride is ineffective at preventing tooth decay in the pits & fissures of teeth – where the majority of decay occurs.
2) It is well-recognized that tooth decay rates declined quite dramatically in all western countries in the latter half of the 20th century – irrespective of whether the country fluoridated its water or not. Today, tooth decay rates thoughout continental western Europe – where 98% of the population does not drink fluoridated water – are as low as the tooth decay rates in the United States, where a majority of the population drinks fluoridated water.
3) Within countries that fluoridate their water, recent large-scale surveys of dental health – utilizing modern scientific methods not employed in the early surveys from the 1930s-1950s – have found little difference in tooth decay , including “baby bottle tooth decay”, between fluoridated and unfluoridated communities.
4) The largest dental survey ever conducted in the United States, by the National Institute of Dental Research in 1986-87, found no difference in Decayed, Missing & Filled Teeth, and a minimal difference in Decayed, Missing & Filled Surfaces among children who had lived their entire lives in a fluoridated or unfluoridated community.
5) Since 2000, four studies have reported that tooth decay does not increase, but continues to decrease, after water fluoridation is stopped.
6) Water fluoridation is often promoted as a means of preventing dental crises withinlow-income populations. It is becoming evident, however, that water fluoridation has been ineffective at preventing wide-spread tooth decay in poor urban areas of the United States – most of which have been fluoridated for 20 to 50 years.Recently I was reading through some medical articles and I came upon an article called, “Battles to end fluoridation have progressed in August (PR)” which is about communities that are fighting to discontinue putting fluoride in their water. The reasons they cite for not adding fluoride to the water included: there is an availability of topical fluoride in dental products, and it would create a cost savings of $50-60,000 dollars each year.
According to the handbook, Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, fluoride is more poisonous than lead and just slightly less poisonous than arsenic. It is a cumulative poison that accumulates in bone over the years.
Dr. William Marcus, believes that a study conducted by Battelle for the National Toxicology Program on the toxicology of fluoride shows that there were dose-related increases in bone cancer in male rats. Dr. Marcus also questions the removal by peer reviewers of cancers at other sites in the rats as well. Especially worrisome to Dr. Marcus is the fact that levels of fluoride that caused the cancers in the rats were lower than those seen in humans who ingested lower amounts, but for a longer period. These levels are generated because fluoride is accumulated in the body and is not secreted.
An additional and less well-studied concern is the interaction of the fluoride compounds added to water with other water additives. Most studies examining the addition of fluoride to water have used sodium fluoride, however, most communities use the less expensive forms such as silicofluoride, hydrofluosilicic acid or sodium silicofluoride. A 1999 study of 280,000 Massachusetts children shows that levels of lead in blood were significantly higher in communities using these cheaper compounds than in towns where sodium fluoride was used or where the water was not treated at all. (“Children’s Health and the Environment”,17th International Neurotoxicology Conference, Little Rock, Arkansas, October 17-20, 1999).
Optimum Levels Too High
The optimum level was set in the 1940s at approximately 1 ppm (equal to 1 mg/l). This was based on assumptions that the total intake of fluoride would be 1 mg/day, assuming 4 glasses of water were drunk per day. However, current intake of fluoride comes not just from the water supply. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa and reported in the November issue of the Journal of American Dental Association found that 71% of more than 300 soft drinks contained 0.60 ppm fluoride. Toothpaste, beverages, processed food, fresh fruits and vegetables, vitamins and mineral supplements all contribute to the intake of fluoride. It is now estimated that the total amount of fluoride ingested per day is 8 mg/day, eight times the optimum levels.
The only admission that you’re likely to see is the 1997 addition of warnings on toothpaste tubes, that now say: “Don’t Swallow—Use only a pea-sized amount for children under six.” and “Children under six should be supervised while brushing with any toothpaste to prevent swallowing.” In areas where the drinking water already contains fluoride, brushing more than once daily with more than a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste can cause fluorosis, the discoloration and spotting of the teeth that affects an estimated 20% of children.
The Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency are proposing the change because of an increase in fluorosis — a condition that causes spotting and streaking on children’s teeth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says dental fluorosis is highest among adolescents between the ages of 12 an 15. One reason for the increase in fluorosis: Americans now have access to fluoride from a variety of sources, including toothpaste, mouth rinses and prescription supplements, the Department of Health and Human Services says
“Dental fluorosis in the United States appears mostly in the very mild form — as barely visible lacy white markings or spots on the enamel,” The department said in a statement Friday. “The severe form of dental fluorosis, with staining and pitting on the tooth surface, is rare in the United States.”
He said that in the 1960s, when fluoridating water began, air conditioning was much less common. So children in hotter regions drank more water and needed lower levels of fluoride to protect their teeth, while children in colder climates drank less water and needed higher levels.
“Now since air conditioning is so common,” the official said, “you don’t see those differences in consumption, and that’s why they’re getting rid of the range and recommending one level.”
“Since 2005, EWG has been calling on federal agencies to respond to these findings, which come from National Academy of Sciences and many others, documenting that excess fluoride exposure poses dangers that range from discolored teeth to potential hormone disruption and neurotoxicity. HHS has taken an important first step. Now it’s up to water utilities to respond and for the EPA to lower its high, legal limit on fluoride in drinking water, which is more than five times higher than the new maximum recommended amount.”
Here are the top 10 reason to eliminate fluoride from our drinking water and dental hygiene products:
- Fluoridation is a violation of the individual’s right to informed consent to medication.
- Fluoride is not an essential nutrient. No biological process in animals or humans has been shown to depend on it. On the contrary, it is known that fluoride can interfere with many important biological processes and vital cellular constituents, such as enzymes and G-proteins. This makes fluoride potentially toxic even at low doses.
- Children in fluoridated countries are greatly over-exposed to fluoride. When fluoridation began in 1940s, 10% of children were expected to develop dental fluorosis (damage to the enamel involving discoloration and/or mottling) in its very mild form. Today, the prevalence in fluoridated countries is much higher—41% of all American children aged 12-15 are now impacted with some form of dental fluorosis (CDC, 2010), with over 10% in categories (mild, moderate and severe) that may need expensive treatment.
- The chemicals used to fluoridate water supplies are largely hazardous by-products of the fertilizer industry. These chemicals cannot be disposed of into the sea by international law, and have never been required to undergo randomized clinical trials for safety or effectiveness by any regulatory agency in the world. The U.S. FDA classifies fluoride as an “unapproved drug.”
- There is mounting evidence that swallowing fluoride causes harm. Fluoride has been found to damage soft tissues (brain, kidneys, and endocrine system), as well as teeth (dental fluorosis) and bones (skeletal fluorosis). There are now 24 studies that show a relationship between fairly modest exposure to fluoride and reduced IQ in children. Two of these studies suggest that the threshold for damage may be reached at fluoride levels similar to those used in water fluoridation.
- Swallowing fluoride provides little or no benefit to the teeth. Even promoters of fluoridation agree that fluoride works topically (on the outer surface of the teeth), and not via some internal biological mechanism (CDC, 1999). A recent U.S. study found no relationship between the amount of fluoride a child ingested and level of tooth decay (Warren et al., 2009). Topical treatment in the form of fluoridated toothpaste is universally available, so it is a mistake to swallow fluoride and expose all the tissues of the body to its harmful effects.
- Human breast milk is very low in fluoride. Breast milk averages only 0.007 ppm F (NRC, 2006). Even in areas with high fluoride levels, nursing children receive only a small fraction of the mother’s fluoride intake, ensuring that the sensitive brains and bodies of breast-fed infants are protected from the developmental effects of this toxin. In contrast, a bottle-fed baby in a fluoridated area (0.7-1.2 ppm F) gets up to 200 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby, resulting in an increased risk of dental fluorosis and other adverse effects.
- Once fluoride is added to water, there is no way to control who gets the drug or how much is ingested. No medical follow-up or monitoring of fluoride levels in citizens’ urine or bones is being carried-out by health agencies and so no record is being kept of adverse effects or daily or accumulated exposures.
- Certain subgroups are particularly affected by fluoridation. People vary considerably in their sensitivity to any toxic substance, including fluoride. Infants, the elderly, diabetics, those with poor nutrition (e.g. low calcium and low iodine), and those with kidney disease are especially vulnerable to specific adverse effects of fluoride. Black and Mexican-Americans have a higher prevalence of the more severe forms of dental fluorosis (see Table 23, CDC, 2005).
- Fluoridation discriminates against those with low incomes. People on low incomes are least able to afford avoidance measures (reverse osmosis or bottled water), or treatment of dental fluorosis (see Point 3) and other fluoride-related ailments (see Point 5).
In conclusion, thank you Harry I. Davidson for our coincidental meeting and our discussion about fluoride and its dangers. For some reason, I believed you, and did not write you off as some crazy, old guy. Once again, thanks Harry I. Davidson. You just never know who you will meet in this world and what you will learn.
1 Dangers of Fluoride http://www.mbschachter.com/dangers_of_fluoride_and_fluorida.htm
Hidden Danger in Your Drinking Water and Toothpaste
Government recommends lowering fluoride levels in U.S. drinking water, By Saundra Young, CNN