The Fluoride Controversy
The Facts Call Fluoridation Into Question
by Richard Wolfson, Ph.D.
"How we ever allowed such a toxic substance in water is staggering," says Dr. Paul Connett, of St. Lawrence University, about fluoride.
If fluoridated water reduces dental decay, communities that stopped fluoridation should show increased dental decay. Yet five different studies published since 2000 confirmed no increase in tooth decay in cities that discontinued fluoridation. Furthermore, tooth decay rates are just as low or lower in countries that refused fluoridation, which includes 97 percent of western Europe.
How did fluoridated water become the U.S. norm in the first place? It all started in the early 1900s when health officials observed that children living in towns with naturally occuring fluoride in their water showed fewer cavities. At a time when brushing teeth and other forms of dental hygiene were less widely practiced, fluoridating water was apparently effective. As a result, it became an official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service.
These days, the ability of fluoride to reduce dental decay is well understood. Fluoride attaches to tooth enamel, strengthening it. Fluoride also attracts calcium and phosphorus to remineralize the enamel.
However, with the rise of dental hygiene, fluoridation no longer seems to show a significant increase in preventing cavities. In fact, some researchers discovered that it causes dangerous side effects. Since 1990, over 275 communities in North America have removed fluoride from their drinking water.
Even in the early 1900s, children in towns with naturally fluoridated water developed discolored and deformed teeth. Scientists have since learned that when young children ingest fluoride, a condition called dental fluorosis can occur, resulting in mottled and damaged teeth.
Health officials decided a concentration of about 1 part per million (ppm) of fluoride in the water would reduce cavities without mottling teeth. However, due to increased fluoride intake from dental products, certain processed foods, and other sources, dental fluorosis has become increasingly common. The American Dental Association now advises that babies should not be given fluoridated water due to risk of dental fluorosis.
In November 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 41 percent of children aged 12 to 15 showed signs of dental fluorosis. Subsequently, CDC recommended lowering fluoridation levels to 0.7 ppm.
Earlier this year, several Iowa cities, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Des Moines, and Ames, reduced their fluoridation levels to 0.7 ppm. In Iowa City, citizen groups campaigned to eliminate fluoride entirely, but their request was struck down by the city council.
Fairfield obtains its water from an underground source that contains natural fluoride in a concentration of about 1.2 ppm, so industrial fluoride is not added.
Fluoride Reacts with Everything
To understand why problems occur, we need to consider fluoride’s chemical properties. Fluoride is the ionic form of fluorine, a highly reactive element that reacts with virtually all substances. Fluoride is also extremely reactive.
Because of their high reactivity, both elemental fluorine and the fluoride ion are highly toxic. Sodium fluoride is used as an insecticide and rat poison. Fluoride’s high reactivity quality is also what allows it to attach to tooth enamel and strengthen it.
However, when taken internally, fluoride can also attach to bones and joints, increasing the likelihood of fractures and making movement painful. This condition, called skeletal fluorosis, is a major problem in rural areas of China and India.
Research also shows fluoride can damage brain development and lower IQ of children. In 2006, a major NRC report concluded that fluoride can damage the thyroid, the gland that produces hormones regulating growth and metabolism.
Dental Fluoride Products
Research does not call into question dental benefits of fluoride toothpastes, rinses, and other dental products. As long as fluoride dental products are not swallowed, but rinsed out after use, they should not contribute significantly to fluoride accumulation, especially if drinking water is not fluoridated.
Fluoride in Industry
In 1995, neurotoxicologist Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., published research showing permanent behavior changes in rats exposed to fluoride. Younger rats became hyperactive (similar to ADHD), while older rats became lethargic (couch potatoes). After her paper produced an uproar, Dr. Mullenix realized fluoride exposure occurs in many industries, including the aluminum, petrochemical, agrichemical, and atomic energy industries. Exposure of fluoride’s toxicity could create huge problems for them.
Later, Dr. Mullenix uncovered classified documents from 1944 showing that workers accidentally exposed to fluoride developed extreme nervousness, incoherent speech, restlessness, and sluggishness. These behaviors, which lasted several days, corresponded with Dr. Mullenix’s findings with rats. Subsequently, Dr. Mullenix learned fluoride toxicity was well known in other countries.
Why is Fluoride Still in Water?
Fifteen years ago, Paul Connett, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University, began looking at the hundreds of studies reporting toxic and carcinogenic effects of fluoride. Dr. Connett then approached his village council in Canton, New York, expecting to immediately convince them to remove fluoride from the water.
In reality, it took seven and a half years. Dr. Connett realized he was working against a powerful multi-million-dollar water fluoridation industry. Fluoride is a hazardous, toxic waste that industry cannot dump in the water. However, it sells fluoride as a water additive and makes millions of dollars.
What You Can Do
• A fluoride PowerPoint presentation describes the points in this article in greater detail, with links. Send it to your local representatives.
• Check if your water filter removes fluoride. Simple carbon filters do not.
• See the Fluoride Action Network.
• Read Dr. Paul Connett’s book The Case Against Fluoride or watch one of his interviews on YouTube.
Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites