Fluoride Action Network

waterfluoridation-overview

Water Fluoridation

"Fluoridation is obsolete. I don’t think anybody in Sweden, not a single dentist, would bring up this question anymore." - Dr. Arvid Carlsson, Nobel Laureate.

Who Opposes Fluoridation?

#1: Most of the Developed World

Proponents of water fluoridation often present a long list of medical and dental organizations that officially endorse the fluoridation of water. What proponents fail to mention, however, is that very few developed countries have been convinced by this laundry list. In fact, over half of the world’s population that drinks fluoridated water now lives in the United States. In western Europe, over 97 percent of the population drinks non-fluoridated water (and yet, their tooth decay rates are generally lower than the tooth decay rates in the U.S.).

#2: Nobel Prize-Winning Scientists

Proponents of fluoridation like to claim that no one who opposes fluoridation is credible. A number of prominent Nobel Prize-winning scientists, however, have opposed the practice. One such scientist, Dr. Arvid Carlsson, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine/Physiology in 2000 for his research on neurotransmitters in the brain. In a 2005 interview, Dr. Arvid Carlsson noted that “fluoridation is against all modern principles of pharmacology. It’s obsolete. I don’t think anybody in Sweden, not a single dentist, would bring up this question anymore.”

#3: Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Union of Scientists and Professionals at EPA’s Headquarters Office, which represents over 1,500 scientists at EPA, has gone on record as opposing water fluoridation due to concerns about fluoride’s health effects. According to the Union, “In summary, we hold that fluoridation is an unreasonable risk.”

#4: Thousands of Medical and Scientific Professionals

Over 531 medical doctors, 494 PhD scientists (including three co-authors of the National Research Council’s landmark review on fluoride toxicity), 341 dentists, 573 chiropractors, 718 registered nurses, and 89 pharmacists have gone on record since 2007 as opposing water fluoridation by signing FAN’s Professionals Statement to End Water Fluoridation.

#5: Key Leaders in the Environmental Health Community

Key figures in the environmental health community have also gone on record as supporting an end to water fluoridation. This includes the following environmental health leaders who have added their name to FAN’s Professionals Statement:

  • Rosalie Bertell, PhD, Regent of the Board, International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland,
  • Theo Colborn, PhD, co-author, Our Stolen Future
  • Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group
  • Pat Costner, retired Senior Scientist, Greenpeace International
  • Ron Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association
  • Ingrid Eckerman, MD, MPH, President, Swedish Doctors for the Environment (LFM), Stockholm, Sweden
  • Sam Epstein, MD, author, “Politics of Cancer” and Chairman,Cancer Prevention Coalition
  • Jay Feldman, Executive Director, Beyond Pesticides
  • Lois Gibbs, Executive Director, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice
  • Andy Harris, MD, Former National President, Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Vyvyan Howard, MD, PhD, Past President, International Society of Doctors for the Environment
  • Stephen Lester, Science Director, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice
  • Peter Montague, PhD, Director of Environmental Health Foundation
  • Ted Schettler, MD, Science Director, Science and Environmental Health Network
  • FIVE Goldman Prize winners (2006, 2003, 1997,1995, 1990)

#6: Civil Rights Leaders

In light of evidence showing that fluoridation disproportionately harms low-income communities and communities of color, civil rights organizations and leaders have begun adding their support to ending fluoridation. This includes:

  • LULAC, the largest Hispanic civil rights organization;
  • Andrew Young, the former Mayor of Atlanta and Ambassador to the United Nations;
  • Dr. Gerald L. Durley, a clinical psychologist, environmentalist, and Pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Atlanta;
  • Reverend Bernice King (the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King).

See also: Environmental Justice

#7: The Ultimate Consumer Advocate, Ralph Nader

No one has done more to protect the American consumer over the past 50 years than Ralph Nader. It should be of little surprise, therefore, that Nader opposes mandatory fluoridation laws.

#8: The Majority of Communities in North America

When given the opportunity to decide, the majority of communities have consistently rejected water fluoridation. As Dr. Edward Groth noted in his PhD dissertation for Stanford University:

“The fact that nearly 3 out of every 5 communities which vote on the issue have rejected fluoridation, year after year, does in all likelihood represent a collective judgment on the part of the public that, when all things are considered, fluoridation is not an acceptable public health measure.”

Although Groth wrote that back in 1973, the trend has largely remained the same. Fluoridation spread rapidly through the United States, not by public demand, but by the executive actions of government bodies.  As noted by Dr. James Dunning, of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, ”The big cities in the United States were mostly fluoridated by executive action in such a way as to avoid public referenda.”

#9: Over 50 Communities Since 2010

Since 2010, over 50 North American communities, with approximately 2 million residents, have rejected water fluoridation, with over 30 of these communities voting to END longstanding water fluoridation programs. This includes:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico (pop. 500,000)
  • Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada (pop. 140,000)
  • College Station, Texas (pop. 100,000)
  • Fairbanks, Alaska (pop. 80,000)

As the New York Times recently described:

“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. The conclusion among these communities is that with fluoride now so widely available in toothpaste and mouthwash, there is less need to add it to water, which already has naturally occurring fluoride. Putting it in tap water, they say, is an imprecise way of distributing fluoride; how much fluoride a person gets depends on body weight and water consumed.”

#10: Nature

Fluoridation proponents like to say that “nature thought of fluoridation first.” To support this, they note that some water supplies naturally contain fluoride at the levels that are added to water in artificial fluoridation programs. What proponents fail to appreciate, however, is that although fluorine is the 13th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, the vast majority of fresh surface water, and the vast majority of plants (e.g., fresh fruit, grains, and vegetables), eggs, and milk, contain very low levels of fluoride. Most tellingly, human breast milk — which provides all of the nutrients a rapidly growing baby needs for healthy growth and development — specifically excludes fluoride, so that breast-fed infants have virtually no exposure to fluoride.

So, yes, nature did think of fluoridation first: it thought about it and, like the majority of humans today, decided that exposing living tissues to a compound with no essential role in human, animal, or plant nutrition, is a pointless, unnecessary risk.

# # #

Download a printer-friendly pdf copy of this article

back to top