Fluoride Action Network

Commentary: Endorsements no substitute for science

Source: Fond Du Lac Reporter | April 10th, 2008 | By Dr. Paul Connett is recognized as emeritus professor of environmental chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. He serves as executive director of Fluoride Action Network

I would like to respond to dentists Margaret Hebl and Jeffrey Kraig (The Reporter, March 10) who provided your readers with assurances about water fluoridation, despite the growing body of evidence that indicates that it is neither safe nor effective.

They state that “small amounts” of fluoride “are present naturally in almost all water supplies.” But just because something occurs naturally in water is no guarantee that it is safe. Indeed, arsenic occurs naturally in some water supplies. A better guide for what is safe for the baby is the level of fluoride in mother’s milk. This is 0.004 ppm and very much lower than the level added to water in fluoridation schemes (0.7-.2 ppm).

A bottle-fed baby in Fond du Lac is getting about 250 times more fluoride than nature intended. This at a time when studies from China, India, Iran and Mexico are showing that natural levels of fluoride are lowering IQ in children.

The early studies that purported to show ingested fluoride reduced tooth decay were seriously flawed. The 19 to 40 percent reduction in decay in children’s teeth cited by Hebl and Kraig is deceptive. The largest survey ever conducted in the United States found an 18 percent reduction, but this amounted to a saving of only 0.6 of one permanent tooth surface out of more than 100 tooth surfaces in a child’s mouth (Brunelle and Carlos, 1990, table 6).

Today there is even less evidence of benefit. There is no significant difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and non-fluoridated industrialized countries. The vast majority of countries are not fluoridated.

In March 2006, the National Research Council released a 507-page report (“Fluoride in Drinking Water”) that called upon the EPA to lower its maximum contaminant level goal for fluoride from its current 4 ppm (NRC, 2006). This was based upon a number of adverse health effects. A summary of their concerns is given in the January 2008 issue of Scientific American.

Hebl and Kraig back up their assertions of safety by citing the CDC and a list of 100 organizations (mostly dental) that support this practice. But endorsements are no substitute for science, no matter how “authoritative” such organizations might appear to be.

For example, the CDC’s Oral Health Division has a conflict of interest in this matter. How can we expect them to make an objective judgment on the safety of a practice, which they enthusiastically promote all over the country? To state, as the CDC does, that the NRC (2006) report is consistent with their policy of promoting fluoridation at 1 ppm, is unscientific and irresponsible.

Let me issue this challenge to Hebl and Kraig. Based on the levels of fluoride causing adverse health effects, as identified in the NRC (2006) report, please point to a written analysis by the CDC, or any of the organizations you cite, which demonstrates that there is an adequate margin of safety to protect all members of the population drinking uncontrolled amounts of fluoridated water as well as consuming fluoride from many other sources. All members of society include the very young, the very old, those with poor kidney function, those with diabetes, those with poor diet and those with borderline iodine deficiency.

This cannot be done, and this is one of several reasons why more than 1,600 professionals from many different fields are calling for an end to fluoridation worldwide. Fond du Lac would be wise to follow their advice. I would be happy to return to Fond du Lac and present what I have learned based on 12 years of researching the literature.