For fifty-five years, the promotion of water fluoridation was justified by the theory that fluoride, incorporated into tooth enamel during childhood, would result in teeth resistant to decay. This prior dogma was conclusively swept away three years ago by the same authorities that long declared the theory “scientifically undebatable.” Its import was barely noted in the major media.
“Fluoride, the key agent in battling caries [tooth decay], works primarily via topical mechanisms…” and “…fluoride incorporated during tooth development is insufficient to play a significant role in caries protection.” These statements, from the July 2000 Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), followed an October 22, l999 report from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating, “…fluoride prevents dental caries predominantly after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.” Clearly, the theoretical justification for ingesting fluoridated water no longer exists.
Dr. John Featherstone, author of the JADA cover story, remains a fluoridation advocate. Still, he told the Salt Lake Tribune (10/29/00), “…brushing with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day is as good or better than fluoride in the drinking water.” Almost all toothpaste contains 1000-1500 parts per million (PPM) fluoride providing far more concentrated exposure to teeth than brief contact with drinking water at 1 PPM. Fluoridated toothpaste is widely used in Western Europe, which is 98% free of water fluoridation, yet tooth decay rates have declined as much there as in the US. Moreover, the judicious use of fluoridated toothpaste minimizes potential adverse health effects associated with lifelong ingestion of fluoride (a cumulative toxin), and allows for individual freedom of choice.
Dental fluorosis (permanently discolored and defective tooth enamel) has long been medically defined as a symptom of fluoride toxicity and is the red flag of overdose. This condition is now epidemic in North America with rates up to 65% in fluoridated areas and 40% in non-fluoridated areas. It is caused by fluoridation and uncontrolled fluoride intake from foods and beverages processed with fluoridated water, dental treatments, fluoride supplements, pharmaceuticals, and pesticide residues on produce. Although proponents now dismiss fluorosis as a cosmetic effect, even mild fluorosis is an abnormal condition.
A major report from the National Research Council in 1993, Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride, cited several studies revealing, “…dental fluorosis is more prevalent among African-Americans than among other races or ethnic groups.” The studies showed more than twice the fluorosis risk for black children. This doubled risk was later confirmed in a 1999 study in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology. Authors Kumar and Swango wrote, “The higher risk for dental fluorosis observed among African-Americans is consistent with other studies.” A small percentage of fluorosis reported was rated as moderate to severe which can be disfiguring and psychologically devastating.
Silicofluorides (SiFs) are used in 90% of US fluoridation programs, yet have never been tested for safety or efficacy by any governmental agency. SiFs are toxic waste products of the fertilizer industry and contain trace contaminants including lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Two hundred thousand tons of these chemicals are sold annually for fluoridation. If not used for this purpose, industry would have to pay for disposal into hazardous waste sites.
In 2000, an alarming study in the journal NeuroToxicology reported that water supplies treated with silicofluorides are linked to higher lead levels in children’s blood. This confirmed an earlier published study by authors Masters and Coplan, bringing the number of children studied to over 400,000. As with dental fluorosis, the data show that elevation in blood lead levels for African-American children is twice that of other racial groups. It is well established that even small increases in blood lead result in lower IQ scores, behavioral problems, juvenile violence, and crime.
As with all studies negative to fluoridation, the blood lead studies have been attacked by proponents, yet the data analysis and conclusions of these peer-reviewed studies remain scientifically unrefuted. In fact, the National Toxicology Program of the CDC has nominated silicofluorides to be tested, for the first time, for toxicological and carcinogenic properties-after more than 50 years of experimental use on humans. (See www.fluoridealert.org for documentation of effects on human health.)
The relentless promotion of fluoridation always centers on children and the disadvantaged. However, mounting evidence of fluoride overexposure and its adverse effects, in both fluoridated and nonfluoridated areas, indicates that children are being harmed — and African-American children are being harmed the most. This is especially intolerable in light of the admission that ingesting fluoridated water was never warranted.
The Precautionary Principle has become a guiding concept to modern scientists. Its basic tenet is: When there is evidence of harm from an action or substance, even in the face of scientific uncertainty, action should be taken to prevent that harm. There is now an escalating call from scientists and health professionals around the world to bring scientific integrity to evaluation of the fluoridation issue. Since 1990, over 120 North American cities have rejected and/or stopped the practice as public awareness of the risks continues to grow. County Commissioners have every reason to reject this ill-conceived and outdated public policy. County residents should turn out in force at the August 26th Fluoridation Workshop to make certain they do.
The author resides in Jupiter, FL and is Steering Committee Chair, South Florida Citizens for Safe Drinking Water.