Despite admission by the Federal Government that American children are being over-exposed to fluoride, and that fluoride’s benefits are primarily topical, the Arkansas State Senate passed legislation on Thursday to force fluoridation on the entire state. This legislation will require cities to add unnecessary, untested fluoride chemicals into the water supply, clearly risking the health of many Arkansas residents.
Fluoridation chemicals—often purchased from Mexico, China, and Japan—are waste products of the phosphate fertilizer industry that are often contaminated with arsenic and lead. These industrial-grade chemicals have never been tested for safety in humans or animals, and have never received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
While the Arkansas House and Senate rush to cast votes that will affect most residents of the State, the public’s voice has been excluded from the process. Oddly, the push for mandatory fluoridation in Arkansas comes in the wake of an historical shift in the U.S. fluoridation program.
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, 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.
Infants drinking formula made up with water containing 0.7 ppm fluoride will receive approximately 175 times more fluoride than a breast-fed infant. African Americans and Mexican Americans have been shown to be at an increased risk of developing dental fluorosis, and are at a higher risk for suffering from the more severe forms of this condition (Table 23, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5403a1.htm). Low-income children have a greater risk for suffering from all forms of fluoride toxicity, as poor diet exacerbates the detrimental effects of fluoride. Thus, this is clearly an Environmental Justice issue.
Public relations operatives, together with Arkansas State oral health director Lynn Mouden, worked behind the scenes to get this bill through the Senate with little or no public notice.
According to Paul Connett, Ph.D., director of the Fluoride Action Network and co-author of the recently published book “The Case Against Fluoride” (Chelsea Green, Oct 2010), “Moudon is behaving like a lobbyist for the American Dental Association (ADA), which is far more interested in protecting the discredited practice of water fluoridation than protecting the health of America’s children. Even though the ADA has recommended to its members that baby formula not be made up with fluoridated tap water, an effort to get legislation passed in NH designed to get this warning to parents was stifled by the NH Dental Society and the NH Oral Health Coalition.”
The legislation in Arkansas was introduced and passed without notifying or requesting comments from those opposing fluoridation, including thousands of health care professionals. No opportunity was given to citizens to express their views on this issue, nor was any mention made of the numerous studies indicating that fluoridation is not only ineffective, but poses a variety of health risks including bone damage, thyroid dysfunction, and lowered IQ in children.
According to Connett, “There are at least 24 studies that have found an association between lowered IQ and levels of fluoride in water as low as 1.9 ppm. Were an adequate margin of safety applied to these findings sufficient to protect the whole population from this harm, it would become clear that some children could exceed a safe dose.”
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 Arkansas to delay their vote until the outcome of the EPA’s assessment is known. The conclusion reached by EPA may well be that no amount of fluoride is considered safe for drinking water.