A leading opponent of the fluoridation of public drinking water supplies said a group of “butchers, bakers and candlestick makers” is promoting fluoridation while the FDA, the only government agency permitted to approve medicines as safe for human consumption, has never approved fluoride as safe or effective for internal use.
“This is a business that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars a year,” according to Dr. Paul Connett, a professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.
Fluoridation — the adding of fluoride to drinking water — often in the form of the environmental toxin hydrofluorosilic acid — has been practiced by municipalities since the 1940s. And for years, a national, if largely unknown debate, has continued regarding its use.
“Hydrofluorosilic acid does not occur in nature,” said Connett. “Naturally occurring fluoride has calcium that combines with the fluoride. It’s pure fluoride, not this waste. You wouldn’t use industrial grade to put fluoride into toothpaste. Why should you put it into water? The only answer you get is because it’s cheap,” Connett said.
Connett said fluoride in toothpaste is a pharmaceutical grade of sodium fluoride and much safer than the toxic waste collected from phosphate plants in the form of hydrofluorosilic acid.
According to opponents of fluoridation, the water in nonfluoridated cities is safer for humans to ingest.
A 1999 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control states that the ingestion of fluoride is minimally effective in fighting tooth decay. According to the report, “Laboratory and epidemiologic research suggests that fluoride prevents dental caries (tooth decay) predominately after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.”
“It makes as much sense to ingest fluoride to prevent tooth decay as it does to swallow sun block to protect you from the sun’s rays,” Connett said.
A study by the National Institute of Dental Research found 66 percent of children in America have some form of dental fluorosis, a spotting or weakening of the teeth caused by exposure to fluoride.
The American Osteopathic Association in Chicago supports fluoridation, according to the association’s media relations specialist Nicole Grady. Grady said there was no one at the organization familiar with a possible correlation of bone cancer and ingesting fluoridated water.
“Nobody here is really an expert on that, nothing specifically,” Grady said. “We just support it as a safe and effective means of fighting tooth decay.”
CDC’S SCALE OF SAFE DAILY DOSES
According to data from the CDC, safe daily doses of fluoride for children are: 0-6 months old or 16 pounds, 0.01 milligrams per day; 6-12 months or 20 pounds, 0.5 mg/day; 1-3 years or 29 pounds, 0.7; 4-8 years or 48 pounds, 1.1 mg/day. However, CDC also cites a survey involving four U.S. cities with fluoride concentrations in water ranging from 0.37 to1.04 ppm, which found infants aged 6 months were ingesting 0.21 to 0.54 milligrams of fluoride per day.
Dr. Mary Ann LoFrumento, a pediatrician and author of the Simply Parenting Childcare series of books, said there are arguments on both sides of the fluoridation issue.
“There are scientists on both sides with concerns,” LoFrumento said. “There is no doubt fluoride lessens dental decay. But you don’t have to get it in the water. Many people are concerned that with the different sources of fluoride such as toothpaste, supplemental vitamins and other sources, that it might be too much.”
Some opponents say fluoridation is a means for private chemical companies to dispose of pollutants EPA regulations forbid disposing — poisoning Americans a little at a time at a profit.
“They polluted the air with this stuff for hundreds of years, poisoning cattle and the environment before they thought of putting it in drinking water,” Connett said.
Connett claims fluoridation still exists for several reasons.
“Government does not want to lose face, having told you how wonderful this stuff is, they won’t want to turn around and tell you it’s not a good idea. And it’s the prospect of litigation. If and when it starts, the lawsuits are going to make tobacco look like a children’s picnic,” he said.
LoFrumento said there is no government conspiracy to add poison to drinking water, but parents should make sure their children are not being overexposed to fluoride.
“There really is no need for massive fluoridation in water supplies in today’s society, though there is a belief that it might be a safer delivery than getting it in supplemts.”
in favor of fluoridation
Many health and safety agencies and officials support fluoridation, including the American Dental Association, the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona.
According to information on the ADA Web site, ingesting fluoride inhibits dental decay by controlling the activity of carcinogenic bacteria and lessens the demineralization of healthy enamel while aiding the recovery of demineralized enamel.
The site outlines decreases in tooth decay of up to 60 percent in cities with fluoridated water supplies.
The organization states that diluting fluoride in drinking water within the recommend range of .07 to 1.2 ppm makes it safe for human consumption.
Fred L. Peterson at the ADA cited information on the agency’s Web site outlining benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water. It states that more than 60 years of studies have shown fluoridation to be a safe and effective method of inhibiting tooth decay.
LoFrumento said she was not aware of specific differences between sodium fluoride and hydrofluorosilic acid, or of the use of the acid to fluoridate water supplies. She said one theory behind floridation is to get fluoride to children in poor families, improving their dental health.
It is a theory on which Connet has another take.
“It is the poor families who can’t escape this stuff,” he said. “They can’t afford bottled water. They can’t afford reverse osmosis systems, so they are stuck drinking this toxin they never asked to be medicated with.”