Suppose you heard these statements about a substance — let’s call it X — added to your drinking water:
• A recent international study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and led by scientists at the University of Toronto, linked higher X levels in pregnant women in Mexico to significant IQ losses in their children. It’s one of the strongest studies on X’s neurotoxicity ever conducted.
• In 2006, a National Research Council committee, examining more than 1,000 studies, compiled the most comprehensive, authoritative review on X. Scientists concluded “it is apparent that X’s have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain …”
In addition, they determined X was an endocrine disruptor, lowered thyroid function and increased bone fractures and dental and skeletal fluorosis; it also called for further studies on X’s connections to cancer, kidney disease and diabetes
• In 2012, a Harvard meta-analysis found that children in China with higher levels of X had significantly lower IQs in 26 out of 27 studies. The studies had higher exposures of X than in U.S. water and their quality varied, but the consistency was striking. Co-author Philippe Grandjean, one of the world’s top scientists on neurotoxicity, stated: “X seems to fit in with lead, mercury and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain.”
• From 2006-16, 196 peer-reviewed scientific studies were published on X’s neurotoxicity. Of these, 189 found harm, many at or slightly higher than X’s level in the water.
Although X’s neurotoxicity is established, questions on dose, age of exposure and individual susceptibility remain. Most scientists, including those above, called for more research.
1. Although all specifics aren’t known, X obviously harms the brain. I don’t want it in my water, and I don’t think pregnant women should have to drink it. Better safe than sorry.
2. In spite of all these studies, I want to see more proof. Until then, I’m fine with X added to the water. Pregnant women shouldn’t worry, but if they do, they can always buy bottled water.
By now, you may have guessed that X is fluoride. All the above scientific statements are fully documented at: fluoridealert.org.
If you picked No. 1, you probably voted no in Portland’s decisive defeat of fluoridation in 2013. If you picked No. 2, you probably voted yes, trusting authority figures who said it was safe.
By 1950, several studies had linked fluoride to dental and skeletal fluorosis and bone, kidney and thyroid disease. There were no significant studies on neurotoxicity, cancer or diabetes. Nevertheless, the U.S. Public Health Service endorsed fluoridation that year, quickly followed by the American Dental Association and American Medical Association.
Many other organizations climbed on the bandwagon. All asserted fluoridation was safe, and the U.S. government has never wavered in promoting it as such, despite the substantial evidence to the contrary. Based on health, ineffectiveness, cost and ethical concerns, there never was a consensus favoring fluoridation. Most nations, in fact, reject it.
The need for more research directly contradicts safety declarations. You can’t have both. “Fluoridation is safe” misrepresents an uncertainty as a certainty, falsely twisting sound science into a sound bite.
Since 1950, fluoridation opponents have been speaking this truth to power. It’s long past time for power to listen.
Rick North, now retired, is the former executive vice president of the Oregon American Cancer Society and former project director for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Campaign for Safe Food.
*Original article online at http://portlandtribune.com/pt/10-opinion/379112-263631-do-you-want-x-in-your-drinking-water