Fluoride, the controversial chemical added to city water supplies to help prevent cavities, now has three strikes against it in having harmful effects in African Americans.
Strike number one: A blue ribbon panel of scientists has identified kidney patients and diabetics as being especially susceptible to harm from ingested fluorides. Blacks suffer disproportionate amounts of kidney disease and diabetes in America.
Strike number two: Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows blacks disproportionately at risk for disfiguring teeth damage from fluoride, compared to whites. (See photos of moderate and severe dental fluorosis at: http://www.fluoridealert.org/dental-fluorosis.htm .)
And strike number three: The American Dental Association and the CDC are now suggesting that parents of newborns may wish to consider using unfluoridated water when mixing infant milk formula for their babies — but they offer no outreach to tell black parents this information, and no funds to pay for minority and other low-income families to purchase other sources of water.
“I know the facts are embarrassing and potentially even lawsuit material against CDC, but it’s not morally right that CDC is not telling African Americans of their multiple, intersecting risks for harm from fluoride,” says Daniel Stockin, a public health professional of The Lillie Center, Inc., a firm working to educate Americans about harm from ingested fluorides. “How does CDC continue to say that fluoridated water is safe and effective ‘for all’? Do African Americans not count?” he asks.
Stockin points to disturbing information in a report last year from the National Research Council that acknowledged diabetics and kidney patients to be “susceptible subpopulations” that are especially vulnerable to harmful effects from fluoride ingestion. According to the National Kidney Foundation, blacks comprise 28.4% of kidney failure patients, but number only 13% of the U.S. population. The American Diabetes Association states that African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Increased risk from fluoride for kidney patients and diabetics logically points towards increased risk for blacks, Stockin says.
Stockin also asks why a chart showing disproportionate harm to African Americans from moderate and severe dental fluorosis, a staining and pitting of teeth indicative of overexposure to fluoride as a child, is buried at the very back of a review published by CDC and has not been shared with the black community. (See http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5403a1.htm .) He also notes that CDC this year quietly added information on a little-noticed web page that mothers of newborns may wish to use unfluoridated water when mixing powdered infant milk formula. ( http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/infant_formula.htm#1 ) CDC has not issued a press release about the subject. “Millions of parents in minority, low-income, and limited-English communities are affected by CDC’s change in policy, but these families have neither the facts about fluoride nor the funds to pay for unfluoridated bottled water or an expensive home water fluoride removal system,” Stockin says.
The bad news about fluoride adds to a growing swell of sentiment against use of the chemical. The influential Canadian city of Quebec has voted to stop water fluoridation. In looking at fluoridation, Alaska’s Juneau Empire newspaper recently wrote, “What about people who are more sensitive to the damaging effects of fluoride than the general population?” Eleven unions in EPA, representing 7,000 EPA lab workers, scientists, and others have called for the immediate nationwide halt to fluoridation. There are petitions now to end fluoridation, and a call for congressional hearings (http://www.fluorideaction.net).
So why does CDC continue to promote fluoridation? Why has CDC not responded to the ethics charges its ethics committees received in August concerning fluoridation? And why aren’t black communities being told of their increased risk for harm from fluorides? “Fair questions,” Stockin says. “And disturbing.”