The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists it as a “hazard.” The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry warns that high levels of exposure can harm your health. It is used to treat human health but remains largely untested by the Food and Drug Administration.
The substance we’re talking about is fluoride.
Why would we want this in our drinking water?
While the benefits of topically applied fluoride (i.e. applying it directly to your teeth) have long been accepted, there is evidence that ingested fluoride is detrimental. The New Jersey Public Health Council of the Department of Health and Senior Services is considering a proposal to mandate that all public water supplies in New Jersey be fluoridated.
Since the 1950s, fluoride has been marketed as the panacea of oral health. But our society has generally lost its naivete about wonder drugs. Most drugs have side effects. Fluoride is a drug that also has potentially harmful side effects.
Discolored, mottled or pitted teeth can be linked to fluoride use. This condition, called dental fluorosis, is one of the most common symptoms of fluoride overdose. While bleaching of teeth can reduce the appearance of dental fluorosis in mild cases, others with fluorosis must resort to expensive veneers or crowns to change the appearance. The incidence of dental fluorosis is increasing in the United States.
Dental fluorosis is not the only health implication. The EPA notes that higher intakes of fluoride can result in skeletal fluorosis. EPA Health Hazard Information also reports that chronic oral exposure to high concentrations of fluoride can cause pulmonary effects, renal and thyroid injury, anemia, hypersensitivity, and dermatological reactions.
If a woman consumes high levels of fluoride during pregnancy, her child’s teeth can be affected with dental fluorosis. In addition, fluoride can accumulate in the brain and pineal gland. The Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility’s report “In Harms Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development” reveals that fluoride is a possible hormone disrupter and might advance premature puberty as well as cause developmental problems. This list of potential side effects should be enough to stop mandatory fluoridation.
Furthermore, maintaining a “safe” level of fluoride for everybody’s size and weight could prove impossible given the plethora of sources and its ability to accumulate in our bodies. People may be living in communities with fluoridated water or high levels of naturally occurring fluoride, as well as working or living near industries that use fluoride-containing substances.
Children are exposed to more fluoride because they tend to swallow their toothpaste and mouth rinses, and ingest “well intended” fluoride supplements and vitamins. Various sodas, juices, cereals, prepared foods and even some sugar and salt products contain fluoride. At your supermarket, you may find that some water bottling companies are now adding fluoride.
It is also alarming that the fluoride most often added to public water supplies is not pharmaceutical grade, but a waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry, called silicofluorides. These chemicals can be contaminated with various impurities. And a Dartmouth study has reported evidence that silicofluorides enhance the body’s ability to absorb lead. To make matters worse, fluoride is corrosive and may unleash lead in water pipes and fixtures.
We are a nation already exposed to thousands of chemicals in our daily lives. We shouldn’t be adding fluoride and its contaminates to our drinking water.
A state regulation that mandate’s fluoridation of our public water supplies is akin to mass medication of our public without individual consent. We are a nation of choice. We have the right to choose what we do in our lives – what we eat and drink, what medications we take. The same should hold true for fluoride ingestion. No other preventative medication is delivered to our residents via an element essential to life without their informed, written consent. The ethics and public health concerns of this issue should render a “no” vote by the Public Health Council or at minimum delay the vote until:
The National Academy of Sciences study on fluoride is released in February.
The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection evaluates the cumulative buildup and availability of fluoride in existing public drinking water supplies, with and without additional fluoride medication.
NJDEP uses the expertise of the Drinking Water Quality Institute to evaluate this issue.
The New Jersey Environmental Federation urges concerned citizens to attend the public hearing or submit written comments in opposition to the fluoride mandate.
For more information, contact Jenny Vickers, N.J. Environmental Federation at 732-280-8988 or firstname.lastname@example.org.