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News ::
Fluoridation: 50 Years is Enough!
07 Jan 2002
To access the references for this fact sheet, visit

Facts about Fluoridation
Fluoride Action Network
January 2002
WATER FLUORIDATION. This includes Austria,
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands,
Norway, and Sweden. The predominant reason for Europe's rejection is
the belief that public drinking water is NOT the appropriate vehicle with which
to deliver medication to a population.
* Fluoride is the only chemical added to
drinking water for the purposes of medication (e.g. to prevent tooth decay,
a NON WATER-BORNE DISEASE). All other treatment chemicals are
added to treat the water (i.e. make the water safer and better to drink).

* Fluoride is NOT AN
ESSENTIAL NUTRIENT, which means that no human disease (including dental
decay) has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency. (1)

* The fluoride used to fluoridate water is an INDUSTRIAL WASTE
PRODUCT from the phosphate
fertilizer industry. It is an unprocessed hazardous waste, contaminated
with a number of toxins, particularly arsenic.
* Fluoridation adds between 0.1 and 1.6
parts per billion (ppb) ARSENIC
to drinking water, and therefore violates the EPA's Maximum Contaminant Level
Goal for arsenic - which is 0 ppb. (2)
* Hydrofluosilicic acid & sodium silicofluoride,
which are the chemicals used to fluoridate 91% of fluoridated water in the US,
have NEVER BEEN TESTED for safety and effectiveness. According to a November
16, 2000 letter
from the EPA, "to answer your question on whether we have in our possession
empirical scientific data on the effects of fluosilicic acid or sodium silicofluoride
on health and behavior, the answer is no."
* When water fluoridation began 50 years
ago, it was believed that fluoride needed to be ingested in order to be effective.
This is NO longer the view of the dental establishment, which now generally
concedes that fluoride's benefits are derived primarily from TOPICAL
application. (3) According to the US Centers for Disease Control, "[L]aboratory
and epidemiologic research suggests that fluoride prevents dental caries predominately
after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily
are topical for both adults and children."

* All fluoride products designed to be ingested
(e.g. fluoride supplements) are available by PRESCRIPTION only.
NO fluoride products designed for ingestion have EVER been approved as safe
or effective by the US
FOOD & DRUG AMINISTRATION. (4) By logical extension fluoridated
water can appropriately be classified as an unapproved prescription drug.

* The dental community concedes that fluoride
is ineffective at preventing the most common type of dental decay - PIT
& FISSURES. Pit & fissure decay - which is the decay found
in the crevices of the chewing surfaces - accounts for upwards of 85% of dental
decay now experienced in the US. (5)

* Evidence now strongly suggests that fluoridation DOESN'T WORK.
Cavities have declined at similarly impressive rates throughout the entire western,
industrialized world over the past half century. This decline has occured irrespective
of a country's fluoridation status. Western Europe, which is 98% unfluoridated,
has experienced the SAME
decline in cavities as the heavily fluoridated US, and today enjoys the SAME
low level of tooth decay. (6)

* The largest dental survey ever conducted in the US found virtually
no difference in dental decay between children living in fluoridated vs. unfluoridated
areas. The study, which was conducted by the NATIONAL
INSTITUTE OF DENTAL RESEARCH (NIDR), found that the average difference
in tooth decay (0.6 tooth surfaces) between children living in fluoridated vs
unfluoridated areas amounted to LESS than 0.5% of the 128 total tooth
surfaces in a child's mouth. (7)

* 5 peer reviewed
studies published in the last 2 years have found that dental decay DOES
NOT increase when communities stop fluoridation. (8)

* The rhetoric supporting fluoridation
is increasingly centered around the notion that fluoridation benefits the neediest
in society the most. This claim flies in the face of the experience of most
US INNER CITIES over the past 50 years. Despite the
fact that nearly all large US cities have been fluoridated for decades, dental
decay is currently rampant in virtually all poor urban areas. (Read
about Boston's experience.)
* One of the major dental health problems
experienced in poor communities is a debilitating condition known as
is also referred to as "EARLY CHILDHOOD CARIES."
This condition, which results from excessive consumption of sweetened liquids
at a young age, is NOT prevented by water fluoridation. (9) According to a study
in Pediatric Nursing "Data from Head Start surveys show the prevalence
of baby bottle tooth decay is about three times the national average among poor
urban children, even in communities with a fluoridated water supply."

* The real "oral health crisis" in the US is not lack of fluoridation,
but rather LACK OF PRIVATE DENTAL INSURANCE among the poor,
and UNDERINVESTMENT in MEDICAID by the Government. According
to a recent report from the Surgeon General, roughly 85% of US dentists do not
treat Medicaid patients due to Medicaid's low rates of reimbursement. (10)

* Fluoride is a very toxic substance, which is why it is the active ingredient
in a number of PESTICIDES.
Just 2 grams of fluoride is enough to kill an adult, and just 500 mg is enough
to kill a child. (11) In the US, people have died,
and many have become sick, when faltering fluoridation equipment has pumped
excess fluoride into the water.

* POOR NUTRITION exacerbates the toxic effects of fluoride
exposure, which is a further reason why it's wrong to target poor communities
with fluoridation (as poor nutrition is more prevalent in low income communiites).
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, "Existing
data indicate that subsets of the population may be unusually susceptible
to the toxic effects of fluoride and its compounds. These populations include
the elderly, people with deficiencies of calcium, magnesium and/or vitamin C,
and people with cardiovascular and kidney problems." (12)
substantially since the early days of fluoridation. (13) When fluoridation first
began, exposure to fluoride from sources other than fluoridated water, was minimal.
Today that is not the case. People now receive fluoride from a whole host of
sources, including pesticide
residues, fluoridated dental products, mechanically
deboned meat, fluoride air pollution,
and processed foods &
beverages prepared with fluoridated water (e.g. soda, juice, beer, cereal,
etc). It has now reached the point where most people recieve the "optimal"
1 mg/day of fluoride (which fluoridated water was designed to deliver) WITHOUT
ever drinking a glass of fluoridated water.

* Despite the increase in total fluoride exposure, the concentration
of fluoride added to drinking water (0.7-1.2 mg/L) as prescribed by the US Government,
is still the same as it was back in the 1940s.
* Due to the increase in total fluoride
exposure, there has been a major increase in the rate of DENTAL FLUOROSIS
found among American children. According to data from the US Government, approximately
1 in 3 children living in fluoridated areas have dental fluorosis on at least
2 teeth. (14) Dental fluorosis is the first visible sign that fluoride has poisoned
enzymes in the body.

* Approximately half of the fluoride we ingest each day ACCUMULATES
in our bodies, primarily in the bones, but also in soft tissues. (15)

* High levels of naturally occuring fluoride
causes a CRIPPLING bone disease known as SKELETAL
skeletal fluorosis is endemic "in at least 25 countries across the globe"
(16). The problem is particularly acute in India, China and other developing

* Skeletal fluorosis comes in varying degrees
of severity depending on the level of exposure. The earliest symptoms are characterized
by joint pain that is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from ARTHRITIS.
According to a review on fluoridation by CHEMICAL
& ENGINEERING NEWS: "Because some of the clinical symptoms
mimic arthritis, the first two clinical phases of skeletal fluorosis could be
easily misdiagnosed [as arthritis]." The World Health Organization states
that "early cases [of skeletal fluorosis] may be misdiagnosed as rheumatoid
or osteo arthritis." (17)

It is estimated that approximately 40 million Americans
suffer from arthritis, the most common type being osteoarthritis.

* Fluoride stimulates ABNORMAL BONE DEVELOPMENT. Clinical trials
published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of Bone
and Mineral Research (18) report that high dose fluoride treatment increases
bone mass but that the newly formed bone is "structurally unsound"
(19). Thus, instead of reducing HIP FRACTURES, the studies
found that high doses of fluoride INCREASED hip fractures.

* There is concern that "low" doses of fluoride, taken over
long periods of time (e.g. fluoridated water), may also increase the rate of
hip fracture. Approximately 20 recent studies have investigated the relationship
between fluoridated water and hip fracture, with approximately half of the studies
finding an association. (20)

* A 1995 study in the journal Neurtoxicology
and Teratology, found that fluoride accumulated in the brain of rats and
produced age-specific behavioral deficits typical of most NEUROTOXIC
agents. (21) In the study, fluoride induced damage to the hippocampal
region of the brain. Damage to the hippocampal region has been linked to hyperactivity
and cognitive deficits.

* 5 recent peer reviewed studies from China
have found an association between elevated fluoride exposure and DECREASED
IQs in children. (22)
* In the late 1990s, a British scientist
discovered that fluoride accumulates to very high levels (avg = 9000 ppm) in
the crystallized tissue of the human PINEAL
GLAND. A subsequent animal study found that fluoride interferes
with the pineal gland's production of melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate
the onset of PUBERTY. In the study, animals dosed with fluoride
had reduced levels of melatonin metabolites in their urine and had earlier onsets
of puberty than the controls. (23)

* Up until the 1950s, European doctors used fluoride to reduce the activity
for people suffering from overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). (24) The daily
dose of fluoride which people are now receiving in fluoridated communities (1.6
to 6.6 mg/day) (25) actually exceeds the dose of fluoride which was found to
depress the thyroid gland (2.3 to 4.5 mg/day). (26)

HYPOTHYROIDISM (under-active
thyroid) is currently one of the most common medical problems in the United
States. SYNTHROID, the
drug doctors prescribe to treat hypothyroidism, was the fourth most prescribed
drug in the US in the year 2000. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include depression,
fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pains, increased cholesterol levels,
and heart disease.

* A recent study published in the journal Brain Research found
that 1 ppm fluoride in water faciliated the uptake of aluminum into the brain
of rats, producing the type of brain tangles (amyloid deposits) that are associated
with ALZHEIMERS disease and other types of dementia. (27)

* An epidemiological study
published in the December 2000 issue of the journal Neurotoxicology,
found that fluoridated water was associated with elevated levels of LEAD
in children's blood. (28) The study's findings parallel the findings of an earlier
study published in the September 1999 issue of the International Journal
of Environmental Studies. (29) Lead in the blood is associated with a variety
of neurological problems, including reduced intelligence, aggression and hyperactivity.
* Dozens of laboratory studies have found
that fluoride is a MUTAGEN - a classification which frequently indicates
that a substance is carcinogenic (i.e. that it causes CANCER). (30) A
cancer bioassay conducted by the National Toxicology Program found that rats
dosed with fluoride had a statisitically significant increase in BONE TUMORS
(osteosarcomas), which were not found among the controls. The initial review
of the study also reported that the fluoride-dosed rats had tumors of the thyroid,
oral cavity and rare tumors of the liver; however these tumors were later downgraded
under conspicuous and controversial circumstances. According to Dr.
William Marcus, the Chief Toxicologist at the EPA's Office of Drinking Water,
the downgrading of the tumors was politically motivated and not scientifically
defensible. (31)

* A recent epidemiological study conducted by a scientist from the US
Public Health Service found that female INFERTILITY was associated
with elevated levels of fluoride ( >3ppm) in drinking water. The study concluded
that more emphasis needs to be given to the effects on health from total
fluoride exposure - not just exposure to fluoridated drinking water. (32)

* In light of the recent research indicating health risks from low level
fluoride exposure, the UNION
has voted to oppose fluoridation (33) and has called upon Congress to issue
a "national moratorium" on the fifty year old policy. According to
the Vice President of the Union, Dr. J. William Hirzy,

"In summary, we hold that fluoridation
is an unreasonable risk. That is, the toxicity of fluoride is so great and
the purported benefits associated with it are so small - if there are any
at all - that requiring every man, woman and child in America to ingest
it borders on criminal behavior on the part of governments."

* After years of overlooking the problems
with fluoride & fluoridation, the environmental community is finally beginning
to address the issue. In September of 2001, the SIERRA
CLUB announced that:

"There are now valid concerns regarding the
potential adverse impact of fluoridation on the environment, wildlife, and
human health. The Sierra Club therefore supports giving communities the
option of rejecting mandatory fluoridation of their water supplies. To protect
sensitive populations, and because safer strategies and methods for preventing
tooth decay are now available, we recommend that these safer alternatives
be made available and promoted."



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