Despite objections from environmentalists and utility officials, New Jersey is under threat of mandatory fluoridation, which is the addition of fluoride chemicals into the public drinking water ostensibly to reduce tooth decay. Despite admission by the Federal Government that American children are fluoride over-exposed and that fluoride’s benefits are primarily topical, New Jersey legislators are crafting a law that will force fluoridation on the entire state, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
“Since fluoride’s benefits are topical, it makes no sense to swallow fluoride and makes even less sense to put fluoride into drinking water when fluoridated toothpaste is available to everyone,” says Paul Connett, PhD, FAN Executive Director and co-author of the book, The Case Against Fluoride.
“Not only does this unfunded mandate completely strip away all local control of fluoridation, but requires local taxpayers to fund the estimated $5 billion start-up cost and the annual $1 billion cost to maintain the practice,” says Connett.
Fluoridation chemicals—often purchased from Mexico, China, and Japan—are hazardous waste by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry that are contaminated with trace levels of arsenic, lead and radionuclides. These industrial-grade chemicals were never tested for safety in humans or animals, and never received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
While the NJ House and Senate members rush to cast votes that will affect all residents of the State, the public’s voice is being ignored. Testimony was given in opposition to S-959 by the NJ League of Municipalities, the NJ Sierra Club, the NJ Business and Industry Association, the citizens’ group No Fluoride New Jersey, and by numerous local water companies and utilities who explained that fluoride is such a powerful chemical that over time it corrodes their equipment. But most NJ residents are unaware of this pending legislation.
Oddly, the push for mandatory fluoridation in New Jersey comes in the wake of an historical shift in the U.S. fluoridation program. Growing numbers of cities are stopping fluoridation because of health and cost concerns. Since 1990, more than 300 communities in North America voted to end fluoridation, including 43 cities serving approximately 3 million residents since October 2010.
On January 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended lowering the level of fluoride added to drinking water. This was in response to national survey data showing that 41% of adolescents ages 12-15 have dental fluorosis, or discolored teeth, an outwardly visible sign of fluoride toxicity. However, the new level recommended by HHS (0.7 parts per million fluoride) is still too high to protect all citizens, especially people who drink large amounts of water, kidney patients and babies.
Adding fluoride to drinking water is also an Environmental Justice issue. Black and Mexican American children have significantly higher levels of the more severe forms of dental fluorosis. Add to that over 25 published papers associating exposure to fluoride and reduced IQ in children while EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory lists fluoride as a developmental neurotoxicant.
Infants drinking formula made up with water containing 0.7 ppm fluoride will receive approximately 175 times more fluoride than a breast-fed infant. Many government, health and dental organizations now advise that infant formula should not be mixed with fluoridated water. Low-income children have a greater risk of suffering from all forms of fluoride toxicity, as poor diet exacerbates fluoride’s detrimental effects.
The NJ legislation was introduced without notifying or requesting comments from those opposing fluoridation. More than 4,000 professionals (including 331 dentists and 518 MD’s) urge that fluoridation be stopped citing scientific evidence that ingesting fluoride is ineffective at reducing tooth decay and has serious health risks. See statement. Also, 11 US EPA unions representing over 7000 environmental and public health professionals are calling for a moratorium on fluoridation
Connett says, “There are two fundamental scientific questions on water fluoridation: 1) does it work, 2) is it safe. The answer to both is no.”
“Fluoridation promoters routinely exaggerate benefits. The largest survey of tooth decay in the U.S. was conducted by the National Institute for Dental Research in 1986-87. The actual saving was just six-tenths of one tooth surface, without consideration that fluoride causes late tooth eruption. Even promoters of fluoridation now agree that fluoride works through contact with the tooth surface rather than by incorporation into developing enamel. So this dispute comes down to whether the government should put fluoride into everyone’s water so that fluoride might eventually end up in the saliva to deliver this topical action or whether people should apply it themselves using fluoridated toothpaste. The first approach exposes every tissue of the body to a toxic substance and the second approach avoids that and also avoids forcing it upon people who don’t want it,” says Connett
“The concerns of a landmark fluoride toxicology review by the National Research Council in 2006 included fluoride’s thyroid effects and fluoride’s ability to damage the brain. There have now been 25 studies showing that fluoride can lower the IQ of children. One well-conducted study found a threshold for this effect at 1.9 ppm. That leaves a totally inadequate margin of safety to protect every child in America, when one considers the wide range of sensitivity and exposure in a large population,” says Connett.
The US EPA is in the process of preparing a new health risk assessment for the maximum level of fluoride allowed as a contaminant in drinking water. The Fluoride Action Network, a non-profit advocacy group, urges the representatives of New Jersey to delay their vote until the outcome of the EPA’s assessment is known. The conclusion reached by EPA, if they follow normal regulatory procedures, may well be that no amount of fluoride is considered safe for drinking water.