By Dr. Mercola
About 40 percent of American teens have dental fluorosis,4 a condition referring to changes in the appearance of tooth enamel—from chalky-looking lines and splotches to dark staining and pitting—caused by long-term ingestion of fluoride during the time teeth are forming.
In some areas, fluorosis rates are as high as 70-80 percent, with some children suffering from advanced forms.
The former recommendation called for a fluoride level of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of water. The new upper limit set by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is 0.7 mg/L, to prevent these visible signs of toxic overexposure.
Why Is a Drug Added to Water When the Dose Cannot Be Controlled?
It’s quite clear that when you add fluoride to drinking water, you cannot control the dose that people are getting, and fluoride is in fact not only a non-essential mineral but a toxic drug. This alone is one of the reasons why fluoride shouldn’t be added to drinking water at any level.
If a doctor somehow managed to force a patient to take a drug with known toxic effects and failed to inform them of the dosage and frequency, and never monitored their health outcome, they would be medically negligent and liable to legal and medical board action.
Yet water utilities administer this drug without a prescription, at the behest of the government, without any idea of who will get what dose and for how long, and without monitoring for side effects.
Fluoride is added to drinking water to, in theory, prevent a disease (tooth decay), and as such becomes a medicine by FDA definition. While proponents claim this is no different than adding vitamin D to milk, fluoride is not an essential nutrient. Moreover, fluoride isn’t even approved by the FDA for the prevention of cavities.
We now know that at a limit of 0.7-1.2 mg/L causes a great many people to overdose on the drug. Will an upper limit of 0.7 mg/L protect everyone forced to drink fluoridated water?
Considering the fact that people also get fluoride from toothpaste, dental rinses, processed foods, and beverages, the chances of overexposure are still present, even at this lowered level.
Many Will Still Be at Risk for Overexposure at Lowered Fluoride Level
At the previous level, 40 percent of US teens became “collateral damage.” What will the allowable damage be at the new level? The HHS said it will evaluate dental fluorosis rates among children in 10 years to assess whether they were correct about this new level.
Let’s say dental fluorosis goes down to 20 percent. Is 20 percent an acceptable level of harm? How about 10 percent? Who decides what the acceptable level of collateral damage is?
Remarkably, the Sacramento Bee5 reports that: “Recent unpublished federal research found there’s no regional differences in the amount of water kids drink. So it makes sense for the same levels to be used everywhere, health officials said.”
I’d be very curious to review that study, because I have a hard time imagining that kids everywhere drink the same amount of water!
It’s also a ludicrous assumption unless every single child is also exposed to the same amount of fluoride from other sources besides drinking water… and weighs the same… and has the same health status… and we know that’s simply not the case.
According to the HHS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “uses the 90th percentile of drinking water intake for all age groups to calculate the relative contribution for each fluoride source.”
What this means is that if you drink more water than the 90th percentile, you are not protected by this reduced level. People most likely to fall into that category include infants receiving formula mixed with fluoridated water, people working outdoors (especially in hot climates), athletes, and diabetics.
Dental Fluorosis Is NOT the Only Risk of Water Fluoridation
Barbara Gooch, a dentist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told NPR6 that “The only documented risk of water fluoridation is fluorosis, and it is primarily a cosmetic risk. Fluorosis in the milder form is not a health risk.”
This hints at a really deficient understanding of the available science on fluoride’s health effects. Dental fluorosis is the most visible form of fluorosis, but it’s far from being “just cosmetic” and of no further concern.
It can also be an indication that the rest of your body, such as your bones and internal organs, including your brain, has been overexposed to fluoride as well.
In other words, if fluoride is having a visually detrimental effect on the surface of your teeth, you can be virtually guaranteed that it’s also damaging other parts of your body, such as your bones. Skeletal fluorosis, which isn’t visible, is very difficult to distinguish from arthritis. Symptoms indicative of early clinical stage skeletal fluorosis include:
- Burning, prickling, and tingling in your limbs
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic fatigue
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
The second clinical stage of skeletal fluorosis is characterized by:
- Stiff joints and/or constant pain in your bones; brittle bones; and osteosclerosis
- Calcification of tendons, or ligaments of ribs and pelvis
- Osteoporosis in the long bones
- Bony spurs may also appear on your limb bones, especially around your knee, elbow, and on the surface of tibia and ulna
All of this has been known since the 1930s, so it’s rather disingenuous to proclaim that dental fluorosis is the only documented risk of water fluoridation. If 40 percent of American teens have dental fluorosis, how many people suffer from skeletal fluorosis as a result of chronic fluoride overexposure? In one previous study, bone fracture rates also rose sharply with increasing severity of dental fluorosis. Studies have also demonstrated that fluoride toxicity, caused by overexposure, can lead to:
|Increased lead absorption||Disrupted synthesis of collagen||Hyperactivity and/or lethargy||Muscle disorders|
|Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)||Increased tumor and cancer rate||Arthritis||Skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures|
|Genetic damage and cell death||Damaged sperm and increased infertility||Inactivation of 62 enzymes and inhibition of more than 100||Inhibited formation of antibodies, and immune system disruptions|
Fluoride Has No Benefit for Teeth When Swallowed
You are beyond naïve if you believe that fluoride somehow selectively goes to your teeth when you swallow it. Rather, it accumulates throughout your body’s bones and tissues. What little benefit fluoride may have is achieved through topical application. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have noted that there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between developed countries that fluoridate their water and those that do not.7
The decline in tooth decay the US has experienced over the last 60 years, which is often attributed to fluoridated water, has likewise occurred in all developed countries, most of which do not fluoridate their water. So declining rates of dental decay is not in and of itself proof that water fluoridation actually works. It’s also worth noting that well over 99 percent of the fluoride added to drinking water never even touches a tooth; it simply runs down the drain, into the environment, where you can be guaranteed it’s doing nothing that is beneficial…
Source: KK Cheng et al. BMJ 2007.8 Rates of cavities have declined by similar amounts in countries with and without fluoridation.
HHS Still Ignores Major Safety Concerns
According to Fluoride Action Network9 (FAN), in finalizing its new fluoride recommendation, the HHS has whitewashed a number of safety issues, failing to address recent research showing adverse effects ranging from lowered IQ in children (found in no less than 43 studies), underactive thyroid,10 and ADHD.11
For example, one recent study12 linking fluoridated water to higher prevalence of ADHD created a predictive model showing that every one percent increase in the portion of the US population drinking fluoridated water in 1992 was associated with 67,000 additional cases of ADHD 11 years later, and an additional 131,000 cases 19 years later.
FAN points out that the HHS even “resorted to deceit” when it dismissed research showing reductions in IQ. The HHS stated that “A recent meta-analysis of studies conducted in rural China… identified an association between high fluoride exposure (i.e., drinking water concentrations ranging up to 11.5 mg/L) and lower IQ scores…” First of all, there are in all 43 studies reporting a relationship between fluoride exposure and reduced IQ. The study mentioned by the HHS only looked at 27 of them.
But more importantly, when you seek to protect an entire population you have to look at the lowest level at which harm becomes apparent, not the highest. By noting only the upper level of the fluoride concentrations found in this study, it appears the HHS was trying to offer misleading reassurance that their recommended level is well beneath any level where risk may be present. But the lowest level at which IQ reductions were noted in that study was 0.88 mg/L, which isn’t that far from the new recommended upper limit of 0.7 mg/L.
Add fluoride from other sources, and you may very well get into the range of hazard. Interestingly, a number of studies13,14,15,16 have specifically shown that children who have moderate or severe dental fluorosis score lower on tests measuring cognitive skills and IQ, suggesting that if 40 percent of our kids have fluorosis, the water fluoridation scheme in the US is likely affecting our children’s IQ as well. As noted by FAN:
“In addition, in toxicology, it is not the concentration of fluoride (mg/liter) that is the relevant parameter but the dose in mg/day (how much you drink), and such a dose has to be compiled from all sources. In the case of the Chinese children in rural villages in these studies, they did not have two sources that US children commonly have: typically they are not bottle-fed and they do not use fluoridated toothpaste.
So, it is likely that some American children are getting higher doses than some of the Chinese children who had their IQ lowered… Because fluoride is an endocrine disruptor and has the potential to lower IQ in children, FAN urges HHS to adopt the Precautionary Principle and end fluoridation now.”
They Got It Wrong—HHS Does Not Consider the Fact That Fluoride Is an Endocrine Disruptor…
According to FAN:
“HHS also stated in its press release that a report on the toxicology of fluoride by the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRC, 200617) ‘found no evidence substantial enough to support effects other than severe dental fluorosis at these levels.’
What HHS failed to state is that the NRC report of 2006 stated18 for the first time that fluoride is an ‘endocrine disruptor,’ which means it has the potential to play havoc with the biology and fate of humans and animals. This is far more significant than severe dental fluorosis.”
In 2011, FAN submitted a number of concerns to the HHS, and none of them have been adequately addressed, FAN says. These concerns include:
|Mass medicating the population via the water supply is unethical||The benefit and safety of ingested fluoride has never been proved by accepted medical standards|
|Any benefits of fluoride are primarily topical, not systemic||Americans will still be over-exposed to fluoride at 0.7 ppm|
|Infants will not be protected. Babies who receive formula made with fluoridated water will still receive 175 times more fluoride than breast-fed infants||African-American children and low-income children will not be protected|
|Fluoride as an endocrine disruptor, which the HHS still has not taken into consideration||HHS has not considered or investigated rates of skeletal fluorosis in the US|
To Protect Your Health, Avoid Fluoride
No matter which scientific studies you examine or which population trends you view, the rational conclusion is that fluoride’s health dangers far outweigh the marginal dental benefits it might offer. Dental caries can be effectively prevented with means other than fluoridation, thereby avoiding the adverse effects of fluoride.
It’s important to realize that fluoride is a cumulative toxin, which over time can lead to serious health concerns, from hypothyroidism to skeletal fluorosis and much more. The neurological effects are particularly disconcerting. Even scientists from the EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a “chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.”
Water fluoridation needs to stop. The question is how. Despite all the evidence, getting fluoride out of American water supplies has been exceedingly difficult. After all, the US government has promoted it for over half a century. Were it to admit that they were wrong all along, and have in fact been poisoning everyone all this time, the ramifications could be enormous. It’s not impossible to abolish water fluoridation, however, as evidenced in areas that have successfully done it.
According to the late Jeff Green, national director of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, a repeated theme in the cases where communities successfully removed fluoride from their water supply is the shifting of the burden of proof.
Rather than citizens taking on the burden of proving that fluoride is harmful and shouldn’t be added, a more successful strategy has been to hold those making claims, and the elected officials who rely on them, accountable for delivering proof that the specific fluoridation chemical being used fulfills their health and safety claims, and is in compliance with all regulations, laws, and risk assessments already required for safe drinking water. To learn more, please see this previous article, which discusses these strategies more in-depth.