The federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
and the American Dental Association (ADA) are holding a symposium in Chicago
this week titled: "National Fluoridation Symposium 2005: Celebrating 60
Years of Water Fluoridation" (July 13–16). The CDC ranks fluoridation
of community drinking water as one of the ten most significant public health
achievements of the 20th century.
No speaker at this symposium will dare question the safety or efficacy of fluoride.
That is now a given and has become dogma. But like in 1968 when protests against
the Vietnam War were held in the Windy City outside the Democratic National
Convention, this week protesters
have assembled in Chicago to fight fluoridation.
Fluoridation of community drinking water began in Grand Rapids, Michigan on
January 12, 1945. It was the brainchild of two people who worked for Andrew
W. Mellon, founder of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), Drs. H. Trendley
Dean and Gerald J. Cox. Mellon was US Treasury Secretary, which made him (at
that time, in 1930) head of the Public Health Service (PHS). He had Dean, a
researcher at the PHS, study the effects of naturally fluoridated water on teeth.
Dean confirmed that fluoride causes mottling (discoloration) of teeth, and he
hypothesized that it also prevents cavities. Cox, a researcher at the Mellon
Institute in Pittsburgh, was urged to study the effect of fluoride on tooth-decay
in rats. Determining that it had a beneficial effect, he proposed, in late 1939,
that the US should fluoridate its public water supply.
Fluorine is a halogen, like chlorine and iodine. It is the smallest and most
reactive element in the halogen family (elements with 7 electrons in their outer
shell). Fluorine exists in nature attached to other elements as the negatively
charged ion fluoride, most notably to hydrogen, calcium, sodium, aluminum, sulfur,
and silicon. Sodium fluoride, a by-product of aluminum smelting, initially was
used to fluoridate water. Silicofluorides (fluoride combined with silicon),
wastes of phosphate fertilizer production, are now used almost exclusively for
fluoridation. Fluorine is also present in compounds called organofluorines,
where fluorine atoms (not fluoride anions) are tightly bound to carbon. Teflon
(poly-tetra-fluoro-ethylene), Gore-Tex, and many drugs, Prozac (fluoxetine),
Cipro (ciprofloxacin), and Baycol (cerivastatin) among them, are organofluorines.
Doctors and public health officials did not think sodium fluoride, used commercially
as a rat and bug poison, fungicide, and wood preservative, should be put in
public water. The Journal of the American Dental Association said (in 1936),
"Fluoride at the 1 ppm [part per million] concentration is as toxic as
arsenic and lead… There is an increasing volume of evidence of the injurious
effects of fluorine, especially the chronic intoxication resulting from the
ingestion of minute amounts of fluorine over long periods of time." And
the Journal of the American Medical Association" noted (in its September
18, 1943 issue), "Fluorides are general protoplasmic poisons, changing
the permeability of the cell membrane by certain enzymes." But, as Joel
Griffiths and Chris Bryson reveal in "Fluoride,
Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb," and Bryson in his book The
Fluoride Deception, officials in the Manhattan Project persuaded health
policy makers and medical and dental leaders, in the interests of national security,
to do an about-face and join the fluoridation bandwagon.
Vast amounts of fluoride were required to build the atom bomb. Fluoride combines
with uranium to form the gas uranium hexafluoride, which, when passed through
a semi permeable membrane, separates bomb-grade, fissionable uranium-235 from
the much more abundant and stable uranium-238. This done, fluoride is released
into the environment as waste. (During the Cold War millions of tons of fluoride
were used in the manufacture of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium for nuclear
weapons.) Also, large amounts of fluoride were generated in producing aluminum
required for warplanes.
With several instances already on record of fluoride causing damage to crops,
livestock, and people downwind from industrial plants, government and industry,
lead by officials running the Manhattan Project, sought to put a new, friendlier
face on fluoride. This would dampen public concerns over fluoride emissions
and help forestall potentially crippling litigation. Instead of being seen as
the poison it is, people should view fluoride as a nutrient, which gives smiling
children shiny teeth, as epitomized in the jingle that calls fluoride "nature’s
way to prevent tooth decay."
It worked. Early epidemiological studies showed a 50 to 70 percent reduction
in dental cavities in children who drank fluoridated water. These studies, however,
were poorly designed. None were blinded, so dentists examining children for
caries would know which kind of water they were drinking. Data gathering methods
were shoddy. By today’s evidence-based medicine standards these studies
do not provide reliable evidence that fluoride does indeed prevent cavities.
Based on these studies and its promotion, municipalities across the country
started adding fluoride to their water supply. Within 15 years a majority of
Americans were washing their clothes, watering their vegetable gardens, bathing
with, and drinking fluoridated water.
On its 60th anniversary proponents still have not proved that the hypothesis
fluoride [put in public water] prevents cavities and is perfectly safe is true.
The first part of the hypothesis, at least, has biological plausibility. Fluoride
prevents cavities by combining with calcium in dental enamel to form fluoroapetite,
which increases the resistance of teeth to acid demineralization. And fluoride
inactivates bacteria that damage teeth by interfering with their enzymes. But
biological plausibility alone is not sufficient to prove efficacy. Epidemiological
evidence is required to do that. A debate open to well-informed opponents of
fluoridation, if the CDC and ADA ever agreed to hold one, would show that existing
epidemiological evidence does not prove that fluoride prevents cavities.
In evidence-based medicine, systematic reviews (meta-analyses) are considered
to be the best, most "scientific" evidence. A
systematic review of water fluoridation studies, published in the British
Medical Journal in 2000, found, as the chair
of the Advisory Group that commissioned the review puts it, "The review
did not show water fluoridation to be safe. The quality of the research was
too poor to establish with confidence whether or not there are potentially important
adverse effects in addition to the high levels of [dental] fluorosis."
He adds, "The review team was surprised that in spite of the large number
of studies carried out over several decades there is a dearth of reliable evidence
with which to inform policy." The case for fluoride does not stand up to
careful evidence-based scrutiny.
Evidence that "fluoride [put in public water] does not prevent cavities
and is not safe" (the null hypothesis) is more convincing. If a court of
law held a trial on fluoride’s safety and efficacy, the anti-fluoridationists
would win. The judgment in their favor would most likely be beyond a reasonable
doubt, or at least on a more likely than not basis. In a courtroom the pro-fluoridationists
would not be permitted to employ ad hominem attacks that focus on the character
of the opposing witness instead of the evidence, and dogmatic assertions on
the safety and efficacy of fluoride would be subject to cross examination.
Proponents of fluoridation will not willingly admit they are wrong. As Tolstoy
puts it, "Most men can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious
truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they
have delighted in explaining to colleagues, have proudly taught to others, and
have woven thread by thread into the fabric of their lives."
There are exceptions. Two prominent leaders of the pro-fluoridation movement
willingly admitted publicly (in 1997 and 2000) that they were wrong. One was
the late John Colquhoun, DDS, Principal Dental Officer for Auckland, New Zealand
and chair of that country’s Fluoridation Promotion Committee. He reviewed
New Zealand’s dental statistics in an effort to convince skeptics that
fluoridation was beneficial and found that tooth decay rates were the same in
fluoridated and nonfluoridated places, which prompted him to re-examine the
classic fluoridation studies. He recanted his support for it in "Why
I Changed my Mind About Water Fluoridation" (Perspectives in Biology
and Medicine 1997;41:29–44). The other is Dr. Hardy Limeback, PhD, DDS,
Head of Preventive Dentistry at University of Toronto. His reasons are given
in "Why I am Now Officially
Opposed to Adding Fluoride to Drinking Water." Another former pro-fluoridationist
that is fighting
fluoride in Canada, and elsewhere, is Richard G. Foulkes, MD, a health care
administrator and former assistant professor in the Department of Health Care
and Epidemiology at the University of British Columbia.
Chlorine is added to water to kill bacteria. Chlorination (begun in 1908) has
eradicated typhoid fever and cholera, two water-borne diseases that used to
kill thousands of Americans each year. Chlorine is a disinfectant. Fluoride
is a medication, which the state requires all people to consume because government
officials believe it is good for a segment of the population. The putative benefit
of this medication is for children age 5 to 12 (when enamel for their permanent
teeth is being formed). This age group drinks 0.01 percent of the water people
This is how the CDC justifies
compulsory fluoridation: "Although other fluoride-containing products are
available [e.g., toothpaste], water fluoridation remains the more equitable
and cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of most communities,
regardless of age, educational attainment, or income level." Fluoridation,
therefore, addresses social inequalities and fosters social justice. It provides
fluoride to poor families without their having to buy (fluoride) toothpaste
and make their children brush their teeth with it. The common good takes priority
over individual freedom to choose to not take this medication. This communitarian
ethic increasingly governs US public health policy. One of the goals of the
government’s Healthy People 2010
initiative (Objective 21-9) is to "increase the proportion of the U.S.
population served by community water systems with optimally fluoridated water
[the target: 75 percent]."
Murray Rothbard (in an article
written in 1992) describes water fluoridation as "ALCOA-socialism,"
arising from "an alliance of three major forces: ideological social democrats,
ambitious technocratic bureaucrats, and Big Businessmen seeking privileges from
the state." It is a legacy of war, with its call for aluminum and enriched
uranium, and the New Deal.
Fluoridation is an especially destructive type of socialism because fluoride
is a poison. It is the 13th most common element and one of the most toxic elements
in the earth’s crust. It is an insidious poison that produces serious
multisystem effects on a long-term basis.
Fluoride disrupts enzymes (by altering their hydrogen bonds) and prevents them
from doing their job of making proteins, collagen in particular, the structural
protein for bone and teeth, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It damages DNA
repair enzymes and inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase in the brain, which
is involved in transmitting signals along nerve cells. All cells in the body
depend on enzymes. Consequently, fluoride can have widespread deleterious effects
in multiple organ systems. One researcher has uncovered 113
ailments that fluoride is said to cause.
The first visible sign of fluoride poisoning is dental
fluorosis. It begins as small white specks in the enamel that then turn
into spots, become confluent, and, in its most severe stage, turn brown. Dental
fluorosis of varying degree affects 20 to 80 percent of children who grow up
drinking fluoridated water. Moderate to severe changes, with brown mottling,
occurs in 3 percent
of children. Dental fluorosis is an indicator of fluoride toxicity in other
parts of the body. Like in growing teeth, fluoride accumulates in the brain.
estation of "brain fluorosis" in children could be this: Researchers
(in China) have found that children living in an area where the water has
high fluoride content (4.12 ppm) have IQ scores that are 6 to 12 points lower
than children living in a low fluoride district (the difference in IQ scores,
at p <0.02, is statistically significant).
Fluoride has a particular affinity for calcium and thus for bone; and it poisons
bones the same way it does teeth. The average American living in a fluoridated
community now ingests 8 mg of fluoride a day. Unlike teeth where the enamel,
once formed, remains static, 10 percent of bone tissue is broken down and replaced
annually, giving fluoride an opportunity to steadily accumulate year-after-year
in bones. People who consume 10–25 mg of fluoride a day over 10 to 20
years, or 2mg/day over 40 years, will develop skeletal fluorosis. The first
manifestations of this disease, before there are any changes on x-ray, are joint
pains and arthritic symptoms, which are indistinguishable from osteoarthritis
and rheumatoid arthritis; muscle weakness; chronic fatigue; and gastrointestinal
disorders. In the next stage, osteoporosis develops and bones become more brittle
and weak, making them prone to fracture. (The third and final stage, crippling
fluorosis, occurs mainly in India where the natural fluoride content of the
water is high.)
There is an epidemic of arthritis, osteoporosis, hip fractures, and chronic
fatigue syndrome in the United States. Could fluoride be causing this epidemic?
It turns out that even people who live in nonfluoridated areas consume a lot
of fluoride, on average 4 mg/day. It is in toothpaste; in fruit juices, soda
pop, tea, and processed foods; and, unfortunately, in California wines, whose
grapes are sprayed with the pesticide cyrolite (sodium aluminum fluoride). American
physicians know little or nothing about skeletal fluorosis, and the early, arthritic
stages of this disease mimic other bone and joint diseases. It is a hypothesis
Studies show that the rates of bone cancer are substantially higher in fluoridated
areas, particularly in boys. Other cancers, of the head and neck, GI tract,
pancreas, and lungs, have a 10 percent higher incidence. Fluoride affects the
thyroid gland and causes hypothyroidism, which is also an increasingly frequent
disorder in the US. Other studies show that high levels of fluoride in drinking
water are associated with birth defects and early infant mortality.
Fluoride also damages the brain, both directly and indirectly. Rats given fluoridated
water at a dose of 4 ppm develop symptoms resembling attention deficit-hyperactivity
disorder. High concentrations of fluoride accumulate in the pineal gland, which
produces serotonin and melatonin. Young girls who drink fluoridated water reach
puberty six months earlier than those who drink unfluoridated water, which is
thought to be a result of reduced melatonin production. People with Alzheimer’s
disease have high levels of aluminum in their brains. Fluoride combines with
aluminum in drinking water and takes it through the blood-brain barrier into
the brain. Dr. Russell Blaylock, MD, a neurosurgeon, spells out in chilling
detail the danger fluoride poses to one’s brain and health in general
in his book Health
and Nutrition Secrets that can Save Your Life(2002).
Try to avoid fluoride, in all its guises. It is not an element the body needs
or requires, even in trace amounts. There are no
known naturally occurring compounds of fluorine in the human body.
Live in a nonfluoridated community. If that is not possible, drink distilled
water or tap water passed through a filter that can remove fluoride (a third
method using an activated alumina absorbent is not practical because of its
expense). Regular activated carbon filters do not work because the diameter
of a fluoride anion (0.064 nm) is smaller than the pore size of the filter.
It requires a reverse osmosis filter. (Living in a fluoridated area, my family
uses a table top reverse osmosis filter that we purchased online.)
Distilled water has been given a bad rap by some health writers, which is not
deserved (see "Blowing the
Lid off Distilled Water Myths"). Distillation units are relatively
Fluoride is readily absorbed through the skin (and inhaled). Two-thirds of
the fluoride we take into our bodies using fluoridated public water comes from
bathing and wearing clothes washed in it. Drinking fluoride-free water in a
fluoridated district only reduces fluoride intake by about a third.
One of the greatest public health advances in the 21st century will be removing
fluoride from public water supplies. This "important public health measure"
is a Potemkin Village – an impressive façade that hides undesirable
facts. In this village, the US Surgeon General, the Czar, in this case, tells
visiting dignitaries that "Community water fluoridation benefits everyone,"
and "There is no credible evidence that fluoridation is harmful."
This has given fluoride a protected pollutant status for 60 years when the stark
fact is that this substance is slowly poisoning us.
In addition to being contaminated with trace amounts of arsenic, beryllium,
mercury, and lead, silicofluorides (hexafluorosilicic acid [H2SiF6] and its
sodium salt hexafluorosilicate [Na2SiF6]) carry lead through the intestine into
the body. These are the compounds that, untested, now are used to fluoridate
water. Lead interferes with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which controls impulsive
and violent behavior; and studies show that lead pollution is linked to higher
rates of violent crime. The average violent crime rate in US counties that have
lead pollution is 56 percent higher when their drinking water is fluoridated,
as reported in "A
Moratorium on Silicofluoride Usage will Save $$Millions (Fluoride 2005;38:1–5).
School shootings occur ten times more frequently in fluoridated communities,
as Jay Seavey points out in "Water
Fluoridation and Crime in America (Fluoride 2005;38:11–22).
Antifluoridationists weaken their case by mistakenly putting florine-carbon
organofluorines in the same category as fluoride anions, as Joel Kauffman, a
chemist, points out.
The fluorine in these compounds is not dangerous (Teflon heated continuously
at 500° F does not release any fluoride.) Policy makers will be better able
to deal with fluoridation of water alone and ban it when organic (carbon-based)
fluorine compounds are removed from consideration.
The day will come when fluoridation of community drinking water will suffer
the same fate as blood letting. Used for over a millennium to treat disease,
it was abandoned three centuries ago.Recommended Reading: