While institutions that promote water fluoridation and other fluoride products have infinitely more resources than FAN will ever have, FAN has proven capable of taking on, and winning, the big battles. FAN’s outsized effectiveness is highlighted by the fact that the largest dental organization in the United States (the American Dental Association), has deemed it necessary to purchase the domain FluorideAlert.com as a means of diverting would-be FAN visitors to their pro-fluoride website.
The following are some of FAN’s accomplishments:
- For ten years, FAN challenged an attempt by Dow AgroSciences to add a fluoride-based pesticide (sulfuryl fluoride) to the U.S. food supply. Although Dow is a corporation with no shortage of power and influence, and although it won most of the battles during the ten years, FAN persisted and convinced the EPA in January 2011 to phase-out all food-based uses of sulfuryl fluoride in the United States. While FAN was grossly outspent, we continually maximized our only two advantages — the law and the facts — by filing detailed submissions to the EPA and soliciting the support of the Environmental Working Group, Beyond Pesticides, and the New York Attorney General’s Office. In the end we lost it all due to Dow’s powerful lobbying at many levels of our government. The final blow came when Congress allowed a tiny item in the 2013 Farm Bill which killed EPA’s phase-out.
- In June of 2012, New Hampshire’s Governor signed into law a bill that requires water departments in the state to warn customers of the risk fluoridated water poses to infants. The bill, which was the result of a prolonged outreach and lobbying campaign by FAN’s Campaign Director, requires that New Hampshire water suppliers provide their customers the following warning: “Your public water supply is fluoridated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if your child under the age of 6 months is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water, there may be an increased chance of dental fluorosis. Consult your child’s health care provider for more information.” Previously, in 2005, FAN convinced the City of Burlington Vermont to issue a similar warning. New Hampshire, however, is the first state to pass this law on a statewide level. FAN is currently working to pass similar legislation in other states.
- In 2005, FAN researcher Michael Connett uncovered documents indicating that Dr. Chester Douglass, a Colgate-affiliated dental researcher at Harvard Dental School had suppressed and misrepresented the results of his NIH-funded study on fluoride and bone cancer in boys. The discovery sparked national headlines, and an NIH-ethics complaint by the Environmental Working Group. Although a year-long investigation by Harvard concluded that Douglass did not “intentionally” misrepresent his data, the national scrutiny helped ensure that a Harvard doctoral dissertation linking fluoridated water to bone cancer was published in a scientific forum where it had always belonged — rather than gathering dust, as it had done for four years, in the basement of the Harvard Medical Library.
- Between 2003 and 2005, FAN submitted extensive analysis and documentation to a panel of the National Research Council (NRC) that was charged with reviewing the adequacy of the EPA’s safe drinking water standard for fluoride. The panel invited FAN’s Executive Director, Dr. Paul Connett to give a presentation alongside a dentist, Dr. William Maas, from the CDC. Maas argued that EPA’s standard was safe and appropriate, while FAN’s Director argued it was dangerously outdated. The CDC has far more resources than FAN, but FAN won the argument. In 2006, the NRC issued a groundbreaking report concluding that EPA’s drinking water standard for fluoride is unsafe and should be lowered.
- FAN researcher Michael Connett has conducted extensive searches of the Chinese literature on fluoride toxicity. In 2007, Connett accessed and arranged translations for 20 studies investigating fluoride’s impacts on the brain, including 10 studies finding reduced childhood intelligence. In 2008, 18 of these 20 studies were published in the English-language journal Fluoride, thus helping to ensure that the findings would be considered by US regulatory agencies and the larger scientific community. In July of 2012, a team of Harvard scientists published a meta-review of fluoride’s impact on IQ which cited and discussed 10 of the studies that FAN translated.
- In addition to being the most comprehensive source of fluoride-related information on the internet, FAN has helped many local groups end or fend off water fluoridation programs since its formation in 2000. While the success of a local campaign is quintessentially the product of the local group’s own efforts, FAN has provided, and continues to provide, timely information, advice, and public presentations to communities trying to reduce their fluoride burden.