Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they were working together to lower the amount of fluoride both suggested and allowed in drinking water.
It was their knee-jerk reaction to a rise in the occurrence of dental fluorosis, the discoloration or spotting of teeth that comes with excess fluoride. Citing the addition of fluoride to everything from toothpaste to health supplements, they finally admitted that we have too much of the substance in our diets. To overcome that, HHS suggests that the chemical be added to water at a rate of 0.7 milligrams per liter of water, which is well below the accepted standard of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L.
It’s been a long time coming. But, it’s too bad that it took visual defects to twist the federal government’s arm into cutting fluoride levels. Their sudden change of mind ignores the ample evidence showing that most of the damage wreaked by the chemical isn’t of the dental nature, but is instead found deep within the body, in our bones and organs.
A 2001 study by Elise Basin, DDS, made the discovery that osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, was most prevalent in young boys who drank from the most fluoridated water supplies. Those boys were 5.5 times more likely to develop the deadly ailment than their counterparts who ingested lower amounts of fluoride.
Last December, yet another study was released about the additive’s effect on intelligence. Dr. Paul Connett looked at Chinese populations newly exposed to fluoride and found that the mental retardation rate was only 6 percent. Conversely, in the high-fluoride communities, mental retardation grew to a staggering 15 percent while the number of children who fell into the bright or high intelligence categories dropped from 28 percent to 8 percent of the population.
Fluoride also has a known effect on the thyroid. A 2008 study by the National Research Council found that fluoride concentrates in that gland, creating numerous ailments which result from a compromised thyroid, such as fatigue, weight gain, labored thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention and depression.
These studies, and the hundreds more before them, should leave one concerned for our well-being. Every year, more than 400 young Americans are stricken by the cancer mentioned in Basin’s thesis, which means that since the 1950s (when water supplies first became tainted) the chemical could be complicit in the deaths of nearly 25,000 children. Connett’s study could give a glimpse into the degradation of the American brain; one could readily assume that fluoride may be in part responsible for the increased rate of childhood brain damage (identified as autism).
One could also surmise that fluoride accounts for most of the 59 million Americans (one-fifth of our population) who suffer from thyroid conditions. Most hypo- and hyperthyroidism diagnoses have — through the eyes of physicians who deny fluoride’s hazards — typically cited unknown triggers. The answer may be found right in their tap water.
The government’s desire to cut back on fluoride is good, but it’s not good enough. It should be eliminated entirely from our water supply. The risks — and outright dangers — are numerous, far outweighing the perceived benefit. We can naturally get fluoride from our diets (chicken and fish) and we are best left to pursue that option, just as nature intended.
That leads into the other reason for fluoride’s elimination: personal choice. Ever since the chemical’s use became widely accepted (if not forced) following questionable scientific studies in the 1940s, many people have rightly argued for fluoride’s elimination under the auspices of personal rights.
Personal health and dietary intake should be at an individual’s discretion, not that of a governing body. We should not be forced to consume compounds or foodstuffs that we don’t want — or need — to. We best know our own bodies, and what we want them to be, and it’s our responsibility to manage our health, no one else’s.