On Feb. 2, operational failures at OWASA increased fluoride levels to 8.4 times higher than normal. OWASA’s dangerous fiasco cost local businesses an estimated $3 million to $5 million.

The substance added to OWASA water is fluorosilicic acid, a toxic corrosive. Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) information on fluorosilicic acid recommends its use for “tanning of animal hides” and “hardening of cement.” MSDS toxicity indications state that “ingestion may cause burns of the gastrointestinal tract leading to vomiting, acidosis, bloody diarrhea, wheezing, laryngitis, shortness of breath, headache, and shock,” along with circulatory system effects and death. Fluoride toothpastes contain warnings to get medical help or immediately contact Poison Control if toothpaste is swallowed.

Newsweek questioned the “outdated” scientific rationale for putting fluoride in drinking water in a 2015 summary of a Cochrane Collaboration review. Cochrane reviews are “the gold standard of scientific rigor in assessing effectiveness of public health policies.” What was the review’s take-home message? “Fluoridation does not reduce cavities to a statistically significant degree in permanent teeth” or baby teeth. A medical school dean stated that his prior pro-fluoridation viewpoint was “completely reversed” and he was “amazed by the lack of evidence.”

OWASA Board members dismiss the countless reports of fluoride’s neurotoxicity. A seminal 2014 article in Lancet Neurology (by brain development experts at Harvard and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine) unambiguously described fluoride as a human neurotoxicant that lowers children’s IQ and disrupts behavior. A 2015 article in Environmental Health that examined exposure to fluoridated water and subsequent attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (prevalence among U.S. children found significantly higher ADHD rates in states where a greater proportion of children drink fluoridated water. The authors comment on “the developing brain’s particular sensitivity to the neurotoxic effects of fluoride” and the “window of vulnerability” during “prenatal and early postnatal development.”

The OWASA board cites some health organizations’ support for water fluoridation but ignores the numerous high-level scientists and organizations who have spoken out against water fluoridation for decades. Top EPA scientists have stated that “a policy which makes the public water supply a vehicle for disseminating a toxic and prophylactically useless substance is wrong.”

Moreover, news reports surface almost daily about regulatory agencies that are functioning as “captured agencies” for industry. An Environmental Protection Agency deputy director buried evidence linking glyphosate (the key Roundup ingredient) to cancer, notwithstanding the World Health Organization’s determination that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. The New York Times reported that FDA spied on and dismissed five scientists who reported that Food and Drug Administration hid dangers associated with FDA-approved drugs and medical devices.

Ninety-seven percent of Western Europe wisely rejects water fluoridation. Many North American communities are doing the same. In North Carolina, where the state does not mandate water fluoridation, concerned citizens are calling attention to water fluoridations’ very real risks. After the horrors of World War II, the Nuremberg Code prohibited experimental human treatment without informed consent. Toxic fluorosilicic acid has no business being forcibly administered to the public – including pregnant women and vulnerable infants – via the water supply.

Claire Viadro, MPH, Ph.D., is a parent, public health professional, and OWASA customer.