Fluoridated water…friend or foe?
When I decided to research this post on fluoride, I did so with a yawn. I really didn’t expect to find anything shocking or discover concrete evidence on either side.
Man, was I wrong…
Let me preface this post by saying I strictly avoided websites and articles from “fringe fanatics” on either end. Odd thing was, I didn’t need any information other than what was available via the US government’s own websites to make the case to prove what a farce the whole “we need fluoride in our water” case really is.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a chemical. It occurs naturally in foods, natural minerals and soil, and it is produced artificially by chemical synthesis and as a by-product of computer, fertilizer, and aluminum production. It is found paired with other elements like sodium.
How did fluoride find its way into our drinking water?
We go back many years ago, to the 1920′s, where a small population in Bauxite Arkansas was noted to have brown stained teeth and were subsequently studied to find out the cause. This had also been seen in Colorado. The cause, it was discovered, was ingestion of too much fluoride in the drinking water. This occurred naturally from the minerals found in the surrounding earth and rock. It was later discovered , surprisingly, that the brown teeth were resistant to tooth decay, but the results were not conclusive.
At the time, two scientists, Trendley Dean and Frederick McKay, were investigating the dental finding under the supervision of the US Public Health Services. Dean’s boss, a Mr. Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the United States Treasury at the time, and supervisor of of the US Public Health Services, was also was the founder and controlling shareholder of ALCOA, a huge aluminum production company that was taking some heat for being the source of adverse effects on the health of the residents near their factories, one of which was in Bauxite Arkansas. Mellon was a bit nervous when brown teeth started showing up and was very interested in the research that was being done around it.
As mentioned before, some of the research suggested that the teeth, while brown and mottled, did not have the level of decay that was found in the general public.
So let’s review…. you have a factory, owned by a US government official, that was getting heat from health watchdog organizations about the adverse health effects of aluminum production. (Aluminum was also under particularly heavy scrutiny at this time because its uses were extending to eating and cooking utensils and there was some concern about aluminum exposure and health.) People living around his production plant were getting brown teeth. The teeth, although brown, were somewhat resistant to decay. It isn’t surprising to learn, when you look at the players, that somehow this situation was “spun” from a company causing concern because of a dental illness, into a profit making plan.
Mr Mellon, if he played his cards right, could market his factory’s “chemical by-product, fluoride” and sell it back to the US government as a “beneficial water treatment for the American public” and become a saviour. Smart guy.
I have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Mellon had his associate Gerald Cox, who worked for ALCOA’s own science lab, (when you need to produce scientific data, why not produce it yourself?) immediately begin a campaign in the US to introduce fluoride as a possible treatment for dental disease. He began by getting all the dentists on board including McKay, the research scientist working for Mellon under the government’s wing, who was the president of the Dental Association at the time. Even though the data was not complete of even consistent, Cox’s campaign was successful.
(I guess it didn’t matter that until this point, fluoride compounds were marketed as rat and roach poison. Mellon would later be asked to resign his position as Secretary of the US Treasury with a review panel citing “there was a tendency to suppress certain scientific reports of importance to the public health on the grounds that certain commercial interests might be offended”.)
The first town to have fluoride added was Grand Rapids Michigan in 1945. The people of Grand Rapids was told they were luck enough to be chosen for a “demonstration study”, which leads one to believe that the fact of fluoride safety was proven, and it was just being implemented for studying sake. Over the next 10 years, the tooth decay incidence declined in Grand Rapids. The scientists had their evidence and soon water was fluoridated everywhere. There was no thought given to long term adverse effects.
Because there was no FDA or any regulatory commission for drugs, fluoride toothpaste went into rapid production. To this day, even though fluoride is found in hundreds of products, and is written as a prescription for infants, it has never been studied or approved by the FDA for use in anyone. But that’s OK, because you can trust the US government, right?.
Some contradictions (and that’s putting it mildly)
In 2006, the US government asked a large independent team of experts from across the country to form a committee to look at the safety of fluoride in water. There were separate groups to look at the risk of cancer, the risk of birth defects, etc. Their report, entitled “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A scientific review of the EPS standards”, looked at all the data from day one. You can read the entire report here. (all 330-something pages)
The result of their study caused the EPA to lower their recommendation for fluoride additives in January of this year (2011) from 1.2/ppm (part per million) to 0.7/ppm. their reasons are clear:
- there is definite evidence that shows fluoride intake above 0.7 ppm (or 4 mg/L.. milligrams of fluoride per Liter of fluid) causes increased risk of bone fractures.
- there is evidence that fluoride intake above 4 mg/L causes fluorosis, or browning, pitting and mottling of the tooth enamel in developing teeth.
- they found no significant evidence linking fluoride and cancer, but recommended that further studies be done due to conflicting results. It states: “the evidence on the potential of fluoride to initiate or promote cancers, particularly of the bone, is tentative and mixed and that, overall, the literature does not clearly indicate that fluoride either is or is not carcinogenic in humans.”
So how much fluoride is on your toothbrush when you fill it with fluoride toothpaste?
About 5000 ppm!!
The current CDC’s website on fluoride safety states:
The weight of the peer-reviewed scientific evidence does not support an association between water fluoridation and any adverse health effect or systemic disorder, including an increased risk for…. bone fracture.
But the current EPA’s website states in contradiction:
Adults exposed to excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may have increased likelihood of bone fractures, and may result in effects on bone leading to pain and tenderness.
and then there’s:
Based on the data evaluated in this risk assessment, EPA concludes that it is likely that some children 8 and younger are exposed to too much fluoride.
(according to recent dental estimates, it’s 40%…that’s more than just “some”)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “regulates the amount of fluoride that may be present in public water supplies to protect against fluoride’s adverse health effects.” There wouldn’t be any adverse health effects from too much if it wasn’t added in the first place.
The EPA states that fluoride is everywhere, and if it wasn’t safe, we would see adverse effects. They state it’s in tea, milk sugar, potatoes etc. and now that toothpastes and mouthwashes have fluoride, the levels added to water can be reduced. If it’s everywhere, why does it need to be added to our water at all?
The EPA states that “many countries have also adopted fluoride additives to the water supply”, Argentina (21%), Australia (61%), Brazil (41%), Canada (43%), Chile (40%), Colombia (80%), Israel (75%), Malaysia (70%), New Zealand (61%), and Singapore (100%). Of the Western European countries, the Republic of Ireland (73%), Spain (10%), and the United Kingdom (10%) as well.
But they don’t tell you that only 13 countries still participate. Most have stopped because of public skepticism about the safety of the program.
On the EPA’s site they admit there are “research gaps regarding the effects of long-term exposure to increased levels of fluoride.” If there are research gaps shouldn’t they be investigated before you have everyone in the country drinking it?
The CDC and the EPA have a goal to get 75% of the entire country drinking fluorinated water. (it is currently in the mid 60%)
How can I get rid of the fluoride in my water?
The only way to rid your tap water of fluoride is by distilling it or reverse osmosis (reverse osmosis in a home could run about $5000 – $10,000. An addition for drinking water alone runs $200-$300) Charcoal filters do nothing.
Then there’s bottled water. The FDA says bottled water can contain up to 1.4 mg/L of fluoride. That’s more than the EPA currently recommends for tap water. And there’s really no way of knowing how much fluoride is in your bottled water when you buy it.
What’s my fluoride tap water level?
If you live in the USA, you can click here to look up your county’s water quality report. I just looked at mine, and fluoride is listed as a “contaminant” right alongside lead. The level was 1.02 mg/L which is higher than the new standards of 0.7 mg/L. I’m not happy. But since the EPA only recommends and does not enforce, there’s nothing I can do other than dig a well.
Check to see where your state falls in the fluoride chart.
Fact: Fluoride reduces the amount of cavities in teeth at certain levels, but we don’t know what the lowest level to be effective is.
Fact: We are getting enough fluoride in our daily intake of other foods, and the environment. See this study.
Fact: Fluoride accumulates over time in your body’s system, and the longterm effects of this chemical has never been studied.
Fact: Regular moderate levels, like those seen across the country, can cause increased risk of bone fractures and crippling skeletal fluorosis involving bone deformities, pain and immobility in adults.
Fact: 40% of children show evidence of too much fluoride intake based on the incidence of 40% fluorosis or browning of the teeth.
Fact: Federal agencies can only recommend fluoride levels, they cannot enforce standards for safe levels.
Fact: You do not have the freedom to choose to “opt out” of the country’s fluoride program unless you treat your water again when it enters your home. Unlike the government’s program to put iodine in salt, I can’t choose not to drink water.
Fact: The EPA’s “Safe Drinking Water Act” is a bunch of crap. According to their own standards, my water isn’t “safe” and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. How is that providing me with safe water?
Fact: The EPA lists fluoride on its “contaminants” list right alongside uranium, lead and e.coli. The government is intentionally adding a “contaminant” to your drinking water, and then monitoring “harmful levels” of the stuff.
Fact: Fluoride toothpaste is toxic. You should only use a pea sized amount when supervising children’s brushing. A child would die if they ingested the majority of a tube of toothpaste. If I had small children, I would question the need for them using a fluoride toothpaste if they are drinking the tap water daily and seeing their dentist regularly.
When your kids go to the dentist, do they really need an extra fluoride treatment? I say no. (…and I just deal with the looks I get from the hygienist with a smile.)
How do you like your water now?
Entry filed under: cancer, environmental hazards, health, health and safety, health and wellness, healthy living blogs, household chemicals. Tags: Check water safety, Dr Mckay fluoride, fluoridated water safety, fluoride toothpaste safety, is fluoride healthy, is fluoride safe, is tap water safe, side effects fluoride.