It came to light today that three Indiana communities have ended their water fluoridation programs. The communities, (Lakeville, North Liberty, and Walkerton) ended their fluoridation programs due to health and cost concerns. In total, 64 North American communities, with 3.5 million residents, have rejected fluoridation since 2010. As noted by the New York Times:
“For decades, the issue of fluoridated water remained on the fringes. . . . But as more places, like Fairbanks and parts of Canada, take up the issue in a more measured way, it is shifting away from conspiracy and toward the mainstream.”
One Community at a Time
As noted by FAN’s Director, Dr. Paul Connett “we need to beat fluoridation one open mind and one community at a time.” In just the past year alone, FAN has confirmed that at least 30 communities have voted to end fluoridation for nearly 2 million residents, including:
- Pinellas County, Florida (pop. 700,000)
- Albuquerque, New Mexico (pop. 500,000)
- Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada (pop. 140,000)
- College Station, Texas (pop. 100,000)
- Fairbanks, Alaska (pop. 80,000)
Making a Statement at the State Level
FAN has been increasing its focus on influencing fluoride policies at the state-level. Over the past decade, we have seen the dental-lobby spending more effort and money trying to influence state legislators to pass bills mandating statewide fluoridation in ALL communities, even if cities and towns have voted against it. Just last year, Arkansas legislators passed a mandatory fluoridation bill without hearings, without public discussion, and as quickly and undemocratically as possible. (See FAN’s interview with consumer advocate Ralph Nader where he discusses the problems with mandatory fluoridation programs.)
This year, the dental-lobby was again trying to force fluoridation down the throats of non-consenting citizens in New Jersey, Vermont, and Florida, where legislation and amendments mandating state-wide fluoridation were introduced. Fortunately, strong opposition to these mandates have killed the bills in Vermont and Florida before hearings were ever held, and the mandatory fluoridation bill in New Jersey appears to have stalled due to opposition prior to the bill reaching a vote in either the NJ Assembly or Senate.
On the fluoride-free side, this year two bills were introduced in New Hampshire calling for a ban on fluoridation. In Illinois, legislators introduced a bill to end their state-wide fluoridation mandate. And in Tennessee, a legislator introduced a bill to study the effects of fluoride on the human body, while another legislator introduced a bill requiring accountability for drinking water additives.
But the biggest state victory over the past year was in New Hampshire. On August 4th, 2012, the state of New Hampshire will become the first state to require fluoridating communities to warn their citizens about the fluorosis risk that the fluoride additive poses to infants. On June 7, Governor John Lynch signed HB1416, “an act relative to a required fluoride statement.” The law will require the following notice on all consumer confidence reports which must be mailed to all water consumers, be posted online, and available at city halls:
“Your public water supply is fluoridated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if your child under the age of 6 months is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water, there may be an increased chance of dental fluorosis. Consult your child’s health care provider for more information.”
This new law is a proactive approach to reducing NH fluorosis rates by notifying parents about the risk posed to their infants by fluoridated water. Not only should the law cause more parents to take preventative action by reducing infant fluoride exposure, it may help inspire them to question why this toxic substance is in their tap water in the first place since it isn’t safe for infant consumption. This marks a point when the State of New Hampshire has officially recognized that fluoridated water poses a risk to infants; a risk backed up by countless studies and a growing fluorosis epidemic that now afflicts 41% of U.S. adolescents.
The legislation was opposed by more than a dozen groups, including the NH Dental Association, the NH Oral Health Coalition, Delta Dental, the American Water Works Association, the Municipal Association, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services. Even with this strong opposition from the well-financed dental lobby, the bill passed in the NH House by a vote of 253-23, and passed unanimously by the NH Senate. HB-1416 was also signed quickly by Governor John Lynch, rather than being approved without his signature, showing his strong support for this action.
It was a strong group effort, and it showed the dental lobby that we plan on influencing future fluoride policy at the local-level AND the state-level. Indeed, since New Hampshire’s decision, FAN’s infant warning has also been adopted by the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which provides water to just over 1 million residents. This means that so far in 2012, over 2.3 million Americans are covered by FAN’s infant fluoride warning; a trend we expect will continue to grow at the local and state-level.
Although fluoridation advocates like to call the addition of cheap industrial fluoride chemicals to the water a form of “dental care” for low-income communities and communities of color, a growing number of civil rights advocates are making it clear they want no part in this practice–particularly in light of data showing that racial minorities currently suffer the highest rate of dental fluorosis in the nation.
Last April, for example, Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador, and Reverend Gerald Durley, a nationally known civil rights leader and prominent Atlanta pastor, both released letters opposing fluoridation. Others, including Bernice King and Alveda King, the daughter and niece of Martin Luther King Jr., have released similar statements opposing fluoridation. Then in July, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, adopted a resolution opposing the practice of water fluoridation. The resolution was passed on July 1st at the 2011 LULAC National Convention in Cincinnati, and demands to know why health agencies are “more protective of the public policy of fluoridation than they are of public health.”
Henry Rodriguez, LULAC’s Texas civil rights chairman stated:
“The Hispanic community is no longer going to be silent on this issue. This is about forcing us to be medicated through our drinking water without our consent or full disclosure of the risks. Fluoridation is a civil rights violation. Opposition to fluoridation is going to continue building and there is no stopping it. There are millions of Hispanic and other minorities in the U.S. who don’t have the funds to avoid fluoridated water for making baby formula. And millions of families don’t know they’re being medicated in their drinking water, or about possible risks for kidney patients and diabetics”
Health & Environmental Professionals Speak Out
In August of 2006, FAN launched the Professional’s Statement Calling for an End to Fluoridation with 600 signers. This year, we passed the 4000 signers mark. FAN decided to organize this statement for two reasons:
1) To draw attention to the landmark review on fluoride’s toxicology by the National Research Council of the National Academies “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A review of EPA’s standards.” While the ADA and the CDC both (predictably) dismissed the significance of this review within days of its publication, we knew that independent scientists would not be so cavalier.
2) We knew that the promoters of fluoridation for over 60 years have tried to make out that there is no scientific debate on this issue and only those with no scientific background were opposed to fluoridation. We knew that this wasn’t true but the problem was getting that message to the public, media, and decision-makers. We felt that this statement would help to do that.
Many doctors, scientists, and leaders in the environmental health community, have indeed signed onto the statement, and more continue to sign on each day, including:
- Arvid Carlsson, Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine, 2000
- Theo Colborn, PhD, co-author, Our Stolen Future
- Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group (EWG)
- Ingrid Eckerman, MD, MPH, President, Swedish Doctors for the Environment (LFM), Stockholm, Sweden
- Lois Gibbs, Executive Director, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, Goldman Prize Winner (1990), Falls Church, VA
- Vyvyan Howard, MD, PhD, Past President, International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE)
- Stephen Lester, Science Director, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice
- Peter Montague, PhD, Director of Environmental Health Foundation
- Raul Montenegro, PhD, Right Livelihood Award 2004 (known as the Alternative Nobel Prize), President of FUNAM, Professor of Evolutionary Biology, National University of Cordoba, Argentina
- Ted Schettler, MD, Science Director, Science and Environmental Health Network
- FIVE Goldman Prize winners (2006, 2003, 1997,1995, 1990)
- 680 Nurses (RN, MSN, BSN, ARNP, APRN, LNC, RGON)
- 520 Doctors (MD, MBBS)
- 480 PhD’s
- 330 Dentists (DDS, DMD, BDS)