An average IQ decrement of about seven points in children exposed to raised fluoride concentrations

When a Harvard professor speaks, one usually listens.  Perhaps the results of a new article authored by Dr. Philippe Grandjean, Harvard School of Public Health, and Dr. Philip Landrigan, Icahn School of Medicine, will finally change public water policies on fluoridation of city water.

The benefits of systemic fluoridation has been debated for decades.  Theories abound of the negative effects, from conspiratory to health concerns.

The most recent news is the chemical fluoride has been reclassified as a developmental neurotoxin joining the ranks of lead and arsenic.

EcoWatch report on the news published in the March 2014 issue of Lancet Neurology:

“A meta-analysis of 27 cross-sectional studies of children exposed to fluoride in drinking water, mainly from China, suggests an average IQ decrement of about seven points in children exposed to raised fluoride concentrations.”

The majority of these 27 studies had water fluoride levels of less than four milligrams per liter, which falls under the allowable level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It interests me that this study focused on China, as I ignorantly think of fluoridated water as a North American problem.   276 million Americans consume fluoridated water.

Grandjean and Landrigan write, “Our very great concern is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies, perhaps most seriously in developing countries.”…

“Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” Grandjean says. ”The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious, especially because the brain power of the next generation is crucial to all of us.”

I think that last statement needs to be emphasized.  Fluoride advocates may cite that the effect is minute; however, when we are talking about damage from toxins, we must look at a combination of exposures and cumulative effect. We do not live in isolation and are exposed to a variety of harmful chemicals.  Reducing levels of one is important in the mixture; reducing levels of all of them even more so.

I was sold on the benefits of fluoride on teeth as a child.  I have since had many conversations with dentists that advocate for topical applications of fluoride for at least two minutes a day.  They do not advocate for ingestion, which increases exposure causing fluorosis and neurological effects.  It is hard for me to just ditch fluoride all together. I am not sure why.  It must have been truly engrained in my childhood beliefs.  Nonetheless, we are fortunate to live where our water comes from a spring, and the only exposure we get to fluoride is in toothpaste sometimes.