Organizing to protect our children’s brains
from public health policy that demands fluoridation
September 5 – 8, 2014
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Crystal, City, Virginia
Attendees at the 5th Citizens Conference on Fluoride, Sept 6-8, 2014.
Simply put, Fluoride Action Network’s 5th Citizens Conference on Fluoride exceeded all our expectations. The Science day (Sept 6), Organization day (Sept 7) and the Lobby day (Sept 8) were all great – and to crown it all key participants had meetings with top officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) before the conference (Sept 4) and EPA Water Division officials after the conference (Sept 8). The details of these meetings will have to come later, suffice it now to say that Bill Osmunson DDS, William Hirzy PhD, and Chris Nidel, a lawyer, attended the HHS meeting and Quanyong Xiang PhD, Chris Neurath, William Hirzy PhD and myself attended the meeting with EPA.
Here are some of the highlights of the conference and lobby day from my perspective but I am a little hesitant to do this because all the speakers were unbelievably good. There were no duds and no dull moments. We hope to have videos of some of the conference presentations available in the not too distant future (we will let you know).
But before I get to the speakers I will repeat what I said to the approximately 100 attendees. I am a very privileged person. I have met many of the activists on this issue from around the world. I know what a very special bunch they are. No one I have worked with on this is in it for money, power, or prestige. The people I have met in this battle on several continents are just wonderful people. Almost by definition they are caring; they are persevering and most have had to resist personal attacks by proponents and attempts to marginalize them in their communities. So why do they do it? For most the answer is as simple and as powerful as the desire to protect their children and grandchildren and to have the right to determine which medicines they take and for others it is a determination to have scientific integrity used to inform public health decisions. In the main many of them feel very isolated. So the joy for me at this 5th FAN Conference was to see many of these folks from the US and Canada meet up and find out that they are not alone and that they have had similar experiences to others fighting this same battle. They also experienced the joy of finding that despite our differences in many other categories (politics, religion, ethnicity, income, etc.) this is an issue that we can all work on together and behave in the way that human beings were meant to behave when their children’s health is at stake.
Because this account is a little long and some of you may not make it to the end of my summary of the conference presentations I am going to start with Dan Stockin’s explosive revelations, which came at the end of the Sunday session, about what appears to be collusion between the Centers for Disease and Prevention’s Oral Health Division (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) to mislead the American public on the dangers posed by fluoridation.
Dan Stockin, MPH, is a career public health professional from Georgia. He has worked closely with Civil Rights leaders in Atlanta and in the process has coined the term “Fluoridegate” to describe the failure of the CDC Oral Health Division to issue health warnings on fluoride exposure, especially to kidney patients and members of the Black and Hispanic communities who appear to be particularly susceptible to fluoride’s toxicity. Dan brought the Sunday session to a very exciting close. In fact his presentation was like the unfolding of a John Grisham novel. Dan released 2500 pages of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These documents pertained to all the exchanges between employees at the Oral Health Division of the CDC (the only division at the CDC that deals with fluoridation) and the ADA. (There are also documents from the Department of Health and Human Services.) These documents make it abundantly clear that what we have suspected for a very long time has been correct: namely, the ADA and CDC Oral Health Division are the tweedledum and tweedledee of fluoridation promotion. They work hand in hand (often at taxpayers’ expense) to spin the message in favor of fluoridation. Instead of taking evidence of harm seriously, they see their job as “getting around” the information in the larger effort of protecting this practice rather than protecting the public’s health. In this effort they are tracking every step FAN is making, read every bulletin, warn local dental associations about every appearance I make, as well as several other key individuals and organizations in this battle. It is not surprising that the ADA is doing this: the shock is they have such willing and eager cooperation from the civil servants working at the CDC. The following short excerpt gives you the flavor. This comes from an email titled, “Special Analysis” from Kip Duchon, PE (an engineer working at the CDC Oral Health Division) and Jane McGinley, a spokesperson for the ADA:
“…since you rank as a special friend with elevated consideration, I am sharing with you (confidentially, so don’t pass on to anyone without asking me first if you can) my most recent review of this information that I prepared for a “special” and confidential use (wink-wink).” (my emphasis, PC)
Now back to the beginning of the FAN conference.
Saturday (Sept 6)
Henry Lickers, Director of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Department of the Environment, opened the proceedings with the traditional and moving Mohawk greeting and welcome.
After my presentation (Fluoridation 101) we heard from Michael Connett, JD, who summarized what he called the “rest of the iceberg” with respect to the neurotoxicity studies of fluoride’s impact on the brain, which makes fluoride’s lowering of IQ quite understandable. Look out for the videotape of Michael’s presentation, as it will be a great addition to our video library. See Michael’s powerpoint. Also see FAN’s press release, Fluoride Brain Damage Studies Mounting, based on Michael’s presentation.
The highlight of the day came when Quanyong Xiang, PhD, gave a most important presentation on his IQ work in China. Dr. Xiang works for the Chinese Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in Jiangsu Province. As many of you know the EPA is basing its new risk assessment for fluoridation on the endpoint of severe dental fluorosis. Dr. Xiang confirmed that the lowering of IQ was a more sensitive endpoint than severe dental fluorosis because some of the children in his study with lowered IQ had either moderate or mild dental fluorosis. Thus we must urge the EPA to use lowered IQ as the more sensitive end point for its risk assessment to determine a new MCLG (maximum contaminant level goal). See Dr. Xiang’s powerpoint.
After Xiang we heard from Bill Hirzy, PhD (a former risk assessment specialist at the EPA). In his presentation Bill showed the EPA how to do an honest risk assessment using standard safety factors. This reassessment would force a MCLG of zero – and thus end water fluoridation. See Bill’s powerpoint.
Chris Neurath of FAN then showed how weak the fluoridation promoters’ criticism of the IQ studies, contained in the meta-analysis performed by the Harvard team (Choi et al, 2012), are. Chris easily dismissed the lightweight NZ study by Broadbent et al. (2014). See Chris’ powerpoint.
We were delighted when we heard that Jennifer Luke, DDS, PhD, was attending our conference. It was Luke who pioneered work on fluoride and the pineal gland. In her short presentation (which she agreed to give at the last minute) Luke produced an unexpected bombshell. She told us that children with autism and other developmental disorders produce very little melatonin. Since melatonin production was lowered in the high fluoride treated animals in her experiments (Luke, 1997), researchers may have to add exposure to fluoridated water as a possible additional cause or compounding factor for the rapid rise in autism in the US. See Luke’s powerpoint.
In a legal panel Jim Turner, Charlie Brown and other lawyers discussed what steps we can take to force the EPA to do an honest job with their much delayed risk assessment on fluoride. The timeline here is shocking. In 1986 the EPA produced a horribly non-protective standard for fluoride in drinking water (Maximum Contaminant Level) and the science based, but not enforceable, Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCL, MCLG) of 4 ppm (the WHO and our neighbors Canada and Mexico have a 1.5 ppm standard). Whistle blowers at the EPA warned that this 4 ppm standard was politically-motivated and the Natural Resources Defense Council took legal action. All to no avail. Americans have had to live with this unscientific MCLG for nearly three decades. In 2003, the US EPA asked the National Research Council of the National Academies to review the MCLG. Three years later they produced a 500-page review (NRC, 2006). This review concluded that the 4 ppm standard was non-protective of health and advised the EPA to do another risk assessment to determine a new MCLG (this is the ideal scientifically based goal to protect all our citizens; the MCL is a federally enforceable standard which takes into account the economic costs of removal of fluoride where it occurs naturally). Eight years later and we are still waiting for that risk assessment to be completed.
Chris Nidel, tort case lawyer, explained the status of his current lawsuit against the sellers of artificially fluoridated bottled water targeted for infants. He, and other lawyers, is seeking out more parents around the country with children afflicted with dental fluorosis who will join this class-action suit, as well as others with evidence that they have been harmed by fluoride. See Chris’ powerpoint.
Bill Osmunson, DDS, gave his usual clear and concise summary of just how weak the evidence is that swallowing fluoride reduces tooth decay. This graphical plots he used examined the percentage of parents answering ”yes” to the question, “Do your children have very good or excellent teeth” in 50 state surveys administered by the HHS. The response from high-income families was about 80% across the board and for low-income families about 60%. However when plotted against the percentage of the population of each state drinking fluoridated water, the graphs were essentially flat indicating no obvious relationship between children having excellent teeth (at least as perceived by parents) and the fluoridation status of each state. See Bill’s powerpoint (in pdf) to see these graphs.
From the floor Mark Gietzen from Wichita, Kansas, offered an intriguing hypothesis as to how early dental researchers like McKay unwittingly ascribed in the late 1920’s less tooth decay to those with dental fluorosis – and set the whole idea of water fluoridation in motion. There may have been other reasons why in those days people with dental fluorosis had less tooth decay. Mark will be refining his hypothesis for possible future publication.
And that was only Saturday. The power-points of all these presentations are online at FAN’s website. In the next few months we hope to have some edited videotaped versions of the presentations. A very special word of thanks to Doug Cragoe for videotaping virtually the whole proceeding and ditto to Clint Griess for streaming most of the conference online.
After dinner, the highlight of Saturday evening was when a grand piano suddenly appeared and we were entertained by Jay Sanders (Clean Water California) a professional musician from San Francisco and Richey, a professional singer and guitarist from Ireland. Their professional performance was not completely sabotaged by a solo from Michael! We all joined in the sing-along, which was a great end to an exciting and information-packed day.
Sunday (Sept 7)
Aisling FizitGibbon got Sunday off to a colorful and cracking start in her brilliant pink “super hero” flying suit and cape. In Ireland Aisling is known as The Girl Against Fluoride
and she is getting huge media attention. She presented her experience in fighting fluoridation and the reasons why we must change the way we fight. She stressed that it was more about psychology than information. Aisling said that people should consider marketing a positive message instead of a negative one. She said that negativity in Ireland did not work because the citizens swallowed the PR that fluoridation is good for you. She said she got the most attention when she went “naked” – holding up posters “Stripped of My Rights” in strategic places. Currently she is working on a comic book for kids where she will be taking on Freaky Flora, a F-pusher.
Rick North is an activist who worked with Clean Water Portland during their historic fluoridation referendum. Rick presented a thrilling account of the incredible victory citizens achieved – against HUGE odds – in keeping fluoridation out of Portland, Oregon, in 2013. He detailed some of the devious behind-the-scenes moves by the pro-fluoridation forces – which included paying out $143,000 to local, largely ethnic groups to support fluoridation. Some literally got $20,000 for doing little more than have their name on a list of “endorsements.” Luckily the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held out against this bribery and instead were active participants in the anti-fluoridation campaign. Rick made the audience gasp at pictures Clean Water Portland’s huge billboard (the largest I have ever seen in a campaign of this kind and included in his powerpoint). Rick also compiled a list of arguments and messaging systems, which seemed to work best in their campaign. This information should be very, very useful for people just beginning their campaigns, although we should remember that what might work in one community might not work in another as locals know their community better than anyone else.
Stuart Cooper, FAN’s campaign manager, outlined the progress being made in two recent FAN initiatives: The Worldwide Alliance to End Fluoridation and Parents Against Fluoridation, or at least that’s what we thought we would call this campaign before some of the comments made at the conference. There was very strong sentiment (from Jim Turner, Aisling and others) that we should be FOR something not AGAINST something – at least in the title of the group. So we will give the last word to our members. See Stuart’s powerpoint.
WHICH TITLE DO YOU PREFER:
1) Parents Against Fluoridation
2) Parents For Fluoride-Free Water
3) Or a third alternative (your suggestion)?
Please email your responses to Ellen this week.
Another last minute addition to our agenda was Jim Bohl, the legislator from Milwaukee, who led an effort there to end fluoridation in this very large city. Jim outlined the pitfalls of undertaking an initiative like this without the support of an organized group of citizens. Even though Jim was able to bring in several experts (dentist Bill Osmunson, pediatrician Yolanda Whyte and myself) the well-heeled proponents were able to bring in their shock-and-awe team and mobilize a few local dentists and doctors to speak up at the same hearing. They sowed enough doubt in the minds of his fellow legislators (some of whom were very sympathetic to removal of fluoride) to make a vote against fluoridation “risky” in their minds without a public clamoring for them to do so. Jim was able to salvage something for his efforts. He got the council to vote to have a statement on water bills warning parents not use fluoridated tap water to make up baby formula to reduce the risk of dental fluorosis. See Jim Bohl’s powerpoint.
Henry Rodriguez, Concilio Zapatista 4383, is from San Antonio and works with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest and largest Hispanic organization in the US. Henry explained his involvement in helping communities fight fluoridation and told us of a dispute that occurred after a vote was taken at LULACs September 2011 annual conference that approved a resolution on the Civil Rights Violation Regarding Forced Medication. An individual in the LULAC leadership removed the resolution from the group’s website and Henry explained what he did to get back online. In addition to his wise words Henry won the audience with his passion and his dancing ability! See Henry’s powerpoint.
Dr. Joseph Mercola gave the keynote address immediately after lunch. Dr. Mercola is a passionate advocate of natural medicine, organic food, a wellness champion, and a visionary who has succeeded in implementing much needed changes to our current healthcare system. In 1997, after 25 years as a physician to thousands of patients, Dr. Mercola merged his passion for health with his interest in technology and created Mercola.com, now the #1 natural health website in the world, educating and empowering millions. He has crafted a simple but powerful plan for readers to take back their health.
Dr. Mercola’s presentation was largely based on his soon-to-be-published book Effortless Healing. He argues that good health is your birthright and within your grasp, you just have to step out of its way. In both his book and his presentation Dr. Mercola described the 9 simple secrets to sidestepping illness, shedding excess weight, and helping your body to fix itself.
Before he began his presentation Dr. Mercola introduced members of the Health Liberty Alliance he has put together and supports so generously. These included Ronnie Cummins of Organic Consumers Association; Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice; Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccination Information Center and myself for Fluoride Action Network. Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology was unable to attend. Smith is a staunch advocate for ending GMOs.
It was inspiring to be able to hear and meet Dr. Mercola in person in addition to some of the key players in his team.
Mike Ewall, JD. I have known Mike for over 20 years. He is simply one of the best grass roots organizers I have met. Back in the late 80’s it was while he was still a student that he introduced me and many other grass roots activists to the power of the internet. Like many other areas of life this revolutionized the grass roots movement. In his talk he told us how year after year (or rather every other year) the promoters of fluoridation have tried to introduce mandatory fluoridation in Pennsylvania. There have been some squeaky moments but every time the opponents have fought it back. Mike told us how they have successfully put together a broad coalition to do this. Mike also spoke of the importance of putting together a multi-racial coalition to fine tune the arguments on the disproportionate harm fluoride causes to communities of color. See Mike’s powerpoint.
Charlie Brown, JD. Charlie is the executive director and legal council for Consumers for Dental Choice. He discussed the success that they have had fighting the use of mercury amalgams. This has become a worldwide campaign with a global mercury bill on reducing mercury contamination of the environment. The language in the bill refers to a phase down (Charlie would prefer phase out) in the use of mercury amalgams (euphemistically and deceptively referred to as “silver fillings” by the ADA, even though they are 50% mercury!). Charlie urged us to stress the environmental damage caused by dumping thousands of tons of hazardous waste into the environment each year, resulting from the use of the fluoridating chemicals derived from the phosphate fertilizer industry. He also urged us to drive a wedge between the CDC and the ADA, just as they have tried to do with FDA and the ADA. A trade association (ADA) has no right to tap into taxpayers’ money to promote or defend its dirty work in its effort to protect itself from accumulated liabilities from its aggressive promotion of two neurotoxins: mercury amalgams and fluoride.
Bill Osmunson, DDS, MPH, explained to us his many years of effort to get the FDA to regulate fluoride for ingestion. It currently identifies fluoride as an “unapproved drug” even though this has been the most prescribed medicine (via water fluoridation) in American history. In his presentation Bill gave details of his second petition to the FDA CDER. This petition, submitted in Nov 2010, had 32 pages and 36 Appendixes with documentation for support. The request read:
The Undersigned Submits this Petition in Support for Reconsideration of a Decision, to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, in Dockets FDA-2007-P-0346 (FDA CDER denial). The FDA CDER denial is in Violation of the FD&C Act when the FDA CDER delegates Drug Regulatory Authority to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). This Appeal Respectfully Orders the FDA to No Longer Defer Regulatory Action on the Manufacturing of the Unapproved Fluoridated Water Drug
This petition lays out the evidence that fluoride is a drug and argues that Congress has prohibited the EPA from adding drugs to water. The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between FDA and EPA did not include drugs (the MOU has been rescinded). Fluoride is not a nutrient. Public water systems are manufacturing a misbranded, adulterated, and illegal drug. The FDA has the power and the responsibility to put this right but refuses to do so. As a result the American public is not being protected by the very agency responsible for protecting the public from drugs. This is one of the issues we hope will be taken up – if or when – Congress organizes joint hearings on fluoridation, which was our goal for lobbying for Monday (Sept 8) see below.
Panel of Activists:
•• Dawna Gallagher-Stroeh is the founder of Clean Water Sonoma-Marin.
•• Neil Carman, PhD, formerly with the Texas Air Commission and member of the Sierra Club and Fluoride Free Austin.
•• Jay Sanders helped form the new non-profit: Clean Water California– see Jay’s powerpoint
•• Brooke Templeton is founder of End Fluoridation in Baltimore – see Brooke’s powerpoint
In addition to the details raised by each of these activists which were pertinent to their local situations, the exciting thing for me and others was to see the combination of both experience (Dawna and Neil) and the energy, youth and enthusiasm of the new people getting involved in this battle. If the proponents of fluoridation were waiting for us “oldies” to die off then they must be shaking in their boots as they see the waves of younger folks marching over the hill. I think we can safely say that it is no longer a question of “if” fluoridation is going to be defeated but “when.”
In addition to these formal presentations from this panel, there were many contributions from the floor from other grass roots activists. I am thinking especially of Regina Imburglia from Dallas, Texas. Talk about the irrepressible force meeting the immovable object that is Regina. She reminds me of the remarkable fact that a mushroom, despite it softness of its flesh, can push its way through concrete!
Monday Sept 8, FAN lobby day.
Our anticipation was that this Lobby Day would be the beginning of a year-long effort to get Congress to hold joint Congressional hearings on fluoridation. Over the next 12 months we hope that all of you will keep sending letters into your Congressional representatives asking them to hold these hearings. At our end we will be organizing a number of sign-on letters via our online system. But in addition please use each new piece of information as an excuse to write to them again (e.g. another community ending fluoridation; another scientific paper showing harm or another scandal where it is shown that our regulatory bodies are being subverted by lobbyists representing special interests like the ADA and the pharmaceutical industry).
Remember our three demands:
1) No more taxpayers’ money to the CDC to promote fluoridation. There is enough private money from the ADA and the Pew Charitable Trusts to finance pro-fluoridation propaganda.
2) That the US EPA Office of Water conduct an honest risk assessment based upon the studies that have associated lowering of IQ with fluoride exposure. The EPA’s job is not protect the fluoridation program but to protect our health, especially our children’s intellectual development.
3) That the FDA finally after 68 years of dragging its bureaucratic feet regulate fluoride for ingestion – both in tablet form and as delivered in water. They have done a good job regulating fluoridated toothpaste now do the same for fluoridated water and fluoride supplements.
Thanks to all the people that helped to organize this wonderful conference (Ellen C., Bill H., Bill O, Sylvia Erville, Stella Kwan, Stuart Cooper), to all those who helped Ellen at the registration desk and book table, those who supported it financially, and to all to those who dug deep and came to Crystal City in person.
Paul Connett, PhD
Director, Fluoride Action Network
Co-author, The Case Against Fluoride (Chelsea Green, 2010)