As the daughter of a dentist, I grew up with confidence in fluoride. After bouts with cancer and osteoporosis, however, I learned to scrutinize health claims more closely. When I discovered that our water fluoridation product is not natural calcium fluoride, but rather synthetic, non-toxicologically tested, non-FDA approved, non-pharmaceutical grade sodium fluorosilicate, which carries a “TOXIC” label complete with skull and crossbones, I felt betrayed. Our water department informed me that this chemical is a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry and requires disposal as a “hazardous waste.” It is not found anywhere in nature and is 20 times more toxic than calcium fluoride. Safe for me and my family? Doubtful.
But what about all those endorsements for reduction in tooth decay? If you look at nothing else, look at the worldwide data on tooth decay reduction published by the World Health Organization (www.fluorideaction.org/who-dmft.htm). Tooth decay rates have declined worldwide, in fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries alike. No matter how many dentists, agencies, and politicians say we need to drink fluoride for healthy teeth, the fact is, we do not. If other countries can reduce tooth decay without fluoridation, at the same rates to the same levels that we do, we can too.
98% of Europe is non-fluoridated, along with Japan, China, and India. Only seven countries worldwide fluoridate over half their population. Basel, Switzerland, just quit after 41 years, citing ineffectiveness and health and environmental consequences. Over 110 American cities have rejected fluoridation since 1990. Global rejection of fluoridation is underway.
Tooth decay has declined worldwide in recent decades due to better nutrition and use of dental sealants, hygiene, and topical fluoride products, like toothpaste. This is reflected by recent CDC findings that fluoride doesn’t work by ingestion, only by topical application. Dental claims that you have to drink fluoride to constantly bathe your teeth in topical fluoride from saliva fail to mention that the concentration in saliva is too miniscule to have an impact. (www.fluoridealert.org)
Poverty correlates with tooth decay far more than absence of fluoride, and studies which do not control for that factor are flawed. Baby bottle tooth decay afflicts 50% of poor, Head Start children in this country, and water fluoridation is powerless against this problem.
No one knows how much fluoride we swallow daily in Palo Alto. What other FDA-defined drug is prescribed that way? The “intended” dose is one milligram per day for adults, and if you drink one liter of Palo Alto water, about 4 cups, you’ll get one milligram. If you drink 8 cups of Palo Alto water, you will be at the California EPA Maximum Contaminant Level for high risk of dental fluorosis—staining and mottling of the teeth (unsightly and expensive to repair). Further, this dose does not take into account the “halo effect” of water fluoridation—the chemical is now in many foods and beverages, from food processing with fluoridated water and from fluoride-containing pesticide residues on produce. (www.keepers-of-the-well.org)
Fluoride is not benign in the human body. After you swallow it, it is no longer a dental matter. 50% of ingested fluoride accumulates in adult bones; 70% in the bones of growing children, and 87% in the bones of infants. The majority of studies show higher hip or wrist fracture rates for seniors in fluoridated communities, when they have drunk fluoride at least 20 years. (www.slweb.org) There is no shortage of studies on the negative impact of fluoride consumption—for bones, pineal gland, brain, thyroid, and people with kidney or cardiovascular disease. Read the FDA-required warning on your fluoride toothpaste container, if you have any doubts about the toxicity of ingested fluoride.
Did you know that 99% of Palo Alto’s sodium fluorosilicate doesn’t even go into humans? It flows down our drains and into San Francisco Bay, where it is non-biodegradable. Over 57,000 pounds yearly from Palo Alto alone. Talk about an inefficient way to deliver a medication. Fluoridation is not a sustainable practice, and doesn’t Palo Alto pride itself on its sustainability goals?
This is not the 1950’s. We have alternatives. Measure B calls for cessation of fluoridation until the chemical passes scrutiny by the FDA, and the dosage takes into account overall fluoride exposure—like any other drug we ingest. And by the way, not one city has been compelled to fluoridate since the so-called state “mandate” became effective in 1995.
Please respect your neighbor’s right to choose not to be medicated. Vote Yes on B.
Susan Willis, Ph.D., is a Stanford graduate, and Palo Alto psychologist, wife, and mother. She is Treasurer of Palo Alto Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 322-5689.