Fluoride Action Network

National Water Week Marked by Congressional Probe on Fluoridation

Source: Citizens for Safe Drinking Water | May 15th, 2000
Location: United States

In the week set aside by President Bush in 1990 for observance May 7 – 13, 2000 as National Drinking Water Week, the House of Representatives Committee on Science expanded their field of inquiry on fluoridation of public water systems to include other agencies that play a part in the decisions and actions surrounding the safety and effectiveness, as well as testing, of the actual substances used in the fluoridation process.

To a written response from EPA Administrator Carol Browner in the first round of questions concerning fluoridation beginning in May 1999, Congressman James Sensenbrenner, Chair of the House Committee on Science, replied, “I am sorry to say that EPA’s answers were extremely insufficient, and as such, the investigation will continue.”

Congressman Ken Calvert, Chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee on Science sent out letters to five agencies, requesting a response to the Committee’s inquiry by June 1, 2000. The letters consisted of more than 40 questions concerning compliance with the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act and other mandates of their agencies as they relate to fluoridation (read Calvert’s letter to the EPA).

One focus of the expanded inquiry was a follow up on the response from EPA to the first round of questions concerning the substances that are used in 90% of the nation’s fluoridation programs in which the EPA stated, “?EPA was not able to identify chronic studies for these chemicals.”

Letters were sent to EPA, Center for Disease Control, National Academy of Science, Food and Drug Administration, and National Sanitation Foundation, Inc.

Questions posed to the Center for Disease Control, which actively promotes fluoridation, included, “At what incidence level in the population would CDC consider that the population as a whole is receiving too much fluoride?”; and, “Why must at least two teeth present with fluorosis before the diagnosis is made?”

The largest study of U.S. children, performed by the National Institute of Dental Research in 1986-87, revealed 29.9% of all children in fluoridated communities display the visible signs of fluoride overdose on two teeth, with classification determined by the second most severely afflicted. The same study showed that 66.4% of children in fluoridated communities has at least one tooth that displays the opaque white spots, brown stains or mottling of tooth enamel that indicates fluoride overdose.

The Committee further questioned, “Would CDC be comfortable with a 100% incidence in dental fluorosis in America’s children?”

To the Food and Drug Administration the Committee posed, “Are there any New Drug Applications on file, that have been approved, or that have been rejected, that involve a fluoride-containing product (including fluoride-containing vitamin products) intended for ingestion with the stated aim of reducing dental caries?

“If health claims are made for fluoride containing products ? do such claims mandate that the fluoride containing product be considered a drug, and thus subject the product to applicable regulatory controls?”

Although the FDA has approved fluoride-containing drugs for purposes of seratonin inhibitors such as Prozac, previously approved Phen-Fen, Rohypnol (often referred to as the date rape drug), and general anesthesias routinely used in surgery, the FDA previously addressed a “regulatory letter” to 35 companies marketing combination drugs consisting of fluoride and vitamins requesting that marketing of these products be discontinued, stating that the New Drug Application for a similar product was withdrawn, “? because there is no substantial evidence of drug effectiveness as prescribed, recommended, or suggested in its labeling.”

A previous response from Frank R. Fazzari, Chief of the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Compliance, to New Jersey Assemblyman John Kelly indicated that they have no studies on file to demonstrate either the safety or effectiveness of these drugs, which FDA classifies as unapproved new drugs.

Questions posed to the National Academy of Science concern their Dietary Reference Intake publication that asserts that Stage III crippling skeletal fluorosis can occur with intakes of 10 mg/day of fluoride for 10 years, yet establishes that level of intake as acceptable for a 9 year old child:

“Does NAS/IOM consider it acceptable for a person to begin intakes of 10 mg/day at age 9 years ? and then by age 19 be at risk of crippling skeletal fluorosis?

“Does NAS/IOM consider it acceptable for a person to acquire Stage I or Stage II skeletal fluorosis at any time of life? ? What does NAS/IOM consider the minimum dose rate at which Stage I skeletal fluorosis may appear?”

Symptoms of Stage I and Stage II include lower back pain, dose-related calcification of ligaments, chronic joint pain often misdiagnosed as arthritis, early stages of osteosclerosis and possible osteoporosis of long bones.

The Committee posed questions to National Sanitation Foundation, Inc. concerning the personnel that constituted the Standards Committee on Fluoride and its role in industry self-regulation, as EPA no longer regulates drinking water additives.

As one of the two most widely used fluoridation substances, hydrofluosilicic acid, is only approximately 23% in concentration, with the other 77% consisting of industrial waste water containing lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and a host of other contaminants, the Committee’s focus on details surrounding testing and compliance included a request for all studies and test records on the specific substances used to fluoridate, rather than surrogate chemicals tested in de-ionized water.

There were 20 questions in the Committee’s second request for information from the EPA. Major emphasis was placed on the Agency’s actions regarding margin of safety for children and other susceptible individuals as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Further inquiries were made about whether EPA has made appropriate adjustments for neurological effects and evidence of increased blood lead levels in children in fluoridated communities; investigations of science fraud; and discrepancies in reviewers’ carcinogenic classifications from a study mandated by a previous Congressional hearing.

Anomalies in EPA’s characterization of fluoride’s toxicity were also questioned, considering EPA’s acknowledgement of chronic toxic effects of lead and arsenic, and fluoride’s known effect as a general enzyme poison. Fluoride ranks between lead and arsenic as an acute toxicant.

A question from the Committee on Science to the EPA, “Regarding emissions of hydrofluosilicic acid, which EPA has characterized as a water and air pollutant, how does EPA explain its willingness to allow this substance to be bled into drinking water systems (especially in the absence of any chronic toxicity studies on it)?? Is it EPA’s policy that the “solution to pollution is dilution” as long as the pollution is applied directly into drinking water systems and not fresh surface water?”

Letters from the Committee on Science to the various agencies are public record and available from the House of Representatives Committee on Science. Further background of the national call for a full Congressional hearing and copies of the Committee on Science investigative letters can also be viewed and downloaded at Citizens for Health web site: