Drinking Water Fluoridation and Dental Fluorosis ~ About Fluoride, Health Hazards, Side Effects and Sources of Fluoride
Fluoride (or is it Fluoride) Facts
- Fluoride is commonly misspelled as fluoride
- around 400 million people worldwide drink fluoridated water
- 60-90% of children are affected by dental caries (cavities) hence the attention to using fluoride
Fluoride is Toxic
Fluoride is a toxic substance. Many of us are used to it as an additive in toothpaste and drinking water. However, it is linked in many studies to side effects such as bone and tooth damage, immune and endocrine effects, thyroid effects, neurobehavioral deficits, neurotoxic effects, and carcinogenicity. Professionals state that the level of risk is unknown at the current level of exposure to drinking water.
One study recently published by the Harvard School of Public Health confirms that based on multiple studies on humans in China, "children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas". This is only one of many examples of the negative effects from fluoride exposure.
Here we are with another example of public deception and toxic complacency. This situation is reminiscent of the controversy on artificial food dyes and genetically modified organisms. The difference here being it is difficult to avoid or get rid of fluoride once it is added to public drinking water systems.
Copyright © 2018 Melis Ann
Fluoride in Drinking Water
Fluoride is not a nutrient. It is a medication, and it's being given in uncontrolled doses through the drinking water supply to our especially vulnerable population: children.
Fluoride has been added to drinking water in most communities in the United States as well as countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The original purpose of adding fluoride to the drinking water supply was to reduce tooth decay.
Some level of fluoride exists naturally in soil, rock and water, varying dependent on location. The process of adding fluoride to drinking water systems is called fluoridation. The United States was the first country to implement wide spread fluoridation beginning in the 1940s.
How Does Fluoride Work?
Fluoride is thought to help teeth in two ways: applied topically and ingested.
- Fluoride in toothpaste is applied topically. It helps remineralize the surface of the tooth which has been broken down by bacteria fed by sugars and carbohydrates in the mouth. This is a well studied method to preventing tooth decay. Overexposure to fluoride from toothpaste and other dental products is a problem.
- Controversy exists on whether fluoride that is ingested provides a benefit to teeth that are forming under the gums. The main sources of fluoride that is swallowed are drinking water and fluoride supplements. Overexposure to fluoride exists here in quantities that are difficult to measure.
Many Children Exceeding Recommended Amount of Fluoride
The Poison Control Center in the U.S. receives thousands of reports of accidental ingestion of too much fluoride. It's estimated by the National Research Council that children in the U.S. are consuming 3-4 times more fluoride than adults. The ADA warning about fluoride in baby formula is an admission that vulnerable children have been overexposed. The door is cracked open with this initial step.
Both Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend that children should not take fluoride supplements if they live in an area with fluoridated water, but if dentists do not follow this recommendation, then this is another example of children being overdosed with fluoride.
According to the Journal of Dental Research, one tube of toothpaste contains enough fluoride to kill an average-sized 9 year old.
Does My Local Water Supply Contain Fluoride?
U.S. residents can check the CDC's My Water's Fluoride website to find out if your local water system adds fluoride to the drinking water. Data on how much and what type of fluoride is also available here.
Side Effect: Dental Fluorosis
Tooth-forming cells are damaged in children who are overexposed to fluoride. The tooth enamel becomes defective which can lead to pitting, further decay and discoloration (white, black or brown stains). This condition is known as dental fluorosis.
Fluorosis is caused by consuming excess fluoride while the teeth are forming under the gums. Once the teeth break through the gums, they are no longer at risk for developing fluorosis. Thus, the highest risk of developing dental fluorosis exists from infancy through approximately 8 years old.
Approximately 1/3 of American children show signs of dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is permanent damage. Although supporters of water fluoridation proclaim that dental fluorosis is merely a cosmetic problem, many scientists believe that the tooth enamel cannot be the only part of the body that is affected by long-term overdose of fluoride.
Sources of Fluoride Exposure
- fluoridated water: community water supply and bottled water
- dental products: toothpaste, mouth wash, fluoride added to dental floss
- processed food and beverages made with fluoridated water including juice, soft drinks, soups, cereal, baby food (see the USDA National Fluoride Database for a complete list p.12-24)
- fluoride in and on produce (insecticides used on crops containing fluorides become residue and absorbed by plants, acceptable for use on organic crops)
- tea: find out what kinds of tea have high fluoride levels and how to avoid this here
- fluoridated pharmaceuticals
- prescription fluoride supplements
Fluoride and Infant Formula
The CDC states that using fluoridated water to mix infant formula increases the chances of dental fluorosis. These are their recommendations for avoiding exposure of infants to fluoride. Lower levels of fluoride lessen, but do not eliminate risk.
- breastfeeding is best method - fluoride does not pass through to breast milk
- 'ready-to-feed' formula contains little fluoride (less risk of fluorosis)
- source of water should be chosen carefully to prepare powdered formula and liquid concentrates
- a low-fluoride bottled water can be used
- find out what level of fluoride is in your tap water
Fluoride in Bottled Water
Not all bottled water contains fluoride. Some fluoride is naturally occurring, but it can also be added. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water and labeling of bottled water, whereas the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates public drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
FDA does not require that the fluoride is quantified on bottled water labels, but requires that any fluoride additives be listed.
Where Does Fluoride in Drinking Water Come From?
The fluoride ion (F-) comes from the element fluorine (F). Fluoride ions easily combine with other elements to make inorganic and organic compounds called fluorides. Some fluoride compounds are inert and some are extremely toxic. Fluorine is naturally occurring in minerals of rocks and soil. Upon exposure to water, compounds are dissolved, freeing the fluoride ions which are then available to react with the many other elements it comes in contact with.
- Sodium fluoride (NaF) - A solid in crystal form. Sodium fluoride dissolves in water to create fluoride ion and sodium. Sodium fluoride is manufactured in the superphosphate fertilizer industry as a by-product (hydrofluoric acid + sodium hydroxide = sodium fluoride + water).
- Fluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6) - A liquid by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.
- Sodium fluorosilicate (Na2SiF6) - In powder or crystal form this industrial by-product is easier to ship than fluorosilicic acid.
Sodium fluoride is used in many toothpastes, mouthwashes and prescription fluoride supplements. It is one of the more expensive compounds used in fluoridating municipal water supplies, thus more than 90% of fluoridated water systems in the U.S. use fluorosilicic acid or sodium fluorosilicate.
Recommendation to End Community Water Fluoridation
In February 2011, Dr. Thiessen prepared a response to the proposed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation for fluoride concentrations in drinking water to be lowered. Dr. Thiessen, a highly qualified professional in toxicity evaluation and risk assessment with direct experience in fluoride toxicity, states that the HHS recommendation to lower the concentration of fluoride in drinking water (although a step in the right direction) is insufficient to protect human health.
Her report is an excellent summary of the current debate regarding water fluoridation. She concludes that HHS should "not continue to promote or encourage uncontrolled exposure of the U.S. population..." She goes on to recommend HHS eliminate "community water fluoridation in the U.S. at the earliest possible date." This report is a must read (click here) and refer to p. 13 for her clear conclusions.
Fluoride Around the World
According to the Fluoride Action Network, European countries have taken a safer approach than the United States in light of published health hazards of fluoride.
- 97% Western Europe rejected addition of fluoride to water
- Fluoride levels in toothpaste have been lowered in Europe (about half the level of U.S. toothpastes)
- Even with less fluoride, tooth decay rates in Europe are as low, or lower than rates in the fluoridated U.S.
In Canada, more and more communities are voting to remove fluoride from their water systems. Calgary Councillors voted to halt addition of fluoride in February 2011.
Some European countries have declared fluoridation of water a 'compulsive medication' and if forced on the community it would be a violation of human rights.
American Dental Association (ADA) declared in 2006 that fluoridated water should not be used to mix infant formula.
CBS News: Dental Fluorosis
The United States government admits to over-fluoridation of community water systems, as shown in this CBS News story.
Fluoride - An Industrial By-Product
As described above, the compounds used to fluoridate municipal water systems are a by-product of fertilizer manufacturing. This alone is not a reason to discontinue use, as water itself is a by-product of many industrial processes.
However, because fluoride by-products are mixed with other by-product contaminants, such as lead, the addition of fluoride to water may mean the addition of unwanted toxic pollutants. Water additives are regulated (by the EPA in the U.S.) to ensure these chemicals are minimized, but the regulations do not eliminate them.
Fluoride Toxicity - What to Believe?
It's interesting to read the viewpoints on both sides of the fluoridation controversy.
It seems reasonable that low doses of fluoride to treat the problem of cavities may help prevent cavities. Topical application of fluoride to teeth helps make the surface of the teeth resist decay (hence fluoride in toothpaste). Systemic fluoride is thought to improve tooth structure by ingesting it and having it available to the body while teeth form (hence fluoridation of water).
- Note: Within the Biologic Mechanism section of a CDC document touting the importance for water fluoridation in reducing incidence of cavities, they state that cavity prevention is predominantly due to fluoride applied after teeth emerge. By their own admission, fluoridation of the water supply is unnecessary.
For every study that shows effectiveness of water fluoridation on preventing cavities, there are an equal number of reputable studies showing that there is no difference in occurrence of cavities between fluoridated water communities and non-fluoridated communities. The toxicity of fluoride compounds (including those used in fluoridation) is well documented. The argument against fluoridation is rooted in the fact that ingesting fluoride delivers risk without providing significant benefit. Medical journals and government reports document serious health implications associated with low-level fluoride exposure including intellectual impairment, cancer, and bone fracture.
- Note: Although the argument is well-founded, this side tends to dramatize the danger of fluoride which makes it difficult to get the majority of the population on board with their rationale. An example is comparing the fluorine compounds used in water fluoridation to sarin gas, another fluoride compound, classified as a weapon of mass destruction. This is like saying that we should not drink water (H2O) because it contains hydrogen atoms which are also present in hydrochloric acid (HCl), a strong acid.
Put Politics Aside
Both sides of this controversy need to come together. First, officials need to understand that the public does not want to be exposed to a toxic compound, no matter how low of a concentration or how mildly toxic.
Second, the argument against fluoridation needs to be toned down to real scientific facts in order to not be discredited. See Dr. Hirzy's statement on Youtube for a rational argument (below).
Senior USEPA Scientist Speaks Out
Simply put by Senior Chemist at USEPA, Dr. J. William Hirzy, in 2000: "If this stuff gets out into the air it's a pollutant; if it gets into the river, it's a pollutant; if it gets into the lake, it's a pollutant; but if it goes right straight into your drinking water system, it's not a pollutant. That's amazing."
The video below contains his explanation as a professional well versed in the issue. In reference to fluorides as a by-product from the fertilizer industry, he eloquently explains that EPA's "solution to pollution is dilution."
Dr. Hirzy references six studies that link fluoride exposure to disease in the brain and that these adverse effects should be further researched in light of surges in ADHD and autism.
Fluoride More Effective Topically
A report titled Systemic versus Topical Fluoride, published in Caries Research by scientists Hellwig and Lennon in Germany, reveals that cavity prevention is successful when fluoride is applied to teeth after they erupt compared to systemic fluoride supplementation.
In addition, early studies that CDC, ADA and EPA reference are not enough to show that fluoridation, today, is beneficial in reducing occurrence of cavities. Fluoride products (toothpaste and mouthwash) are much more widely used today than when fluoridation of water first began in the United States when many of these studies showing benefits were carried out.
Video Australian News Program Today Tonight
Scientific Studies Show Side-Effects of Fluoride Exposure
There are multiple studies that show a variety of side effects due to overexposure to fluoride. Environmental Working Group states that the National Research Council committee members suspect side effects beyond bone and tooth damage including immune and endocrine effects, thyroid effects, neurobehavioral deficits, neurotoxic effects, and carcinogenicity. The level of risk, they state, is unknown at the current level of exposure to drinking water.
- 2012: Harvard School of Public Health published an article reporting a study by Environmental Health Perspectives that shows fluoride to be a neurotoxin in children. Their conclusion states that children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low fluoride areas.
- 2006: Chinese study concluded there is a link between fluoride in drinking water and liver and kidney damage in children. The fluoride intake was consistent with normal dietary intake and kidney damage appeared before symptoms of dental fluorosis.
- 1998: Brain Research study reported that rats sustained brain and kidney damage when given low doses of fluoride.
- 1994: Research published by the FDA showed decrease birth rates in counties with drinking water of high fluoride concentrations.
- 1993: U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported that the elderly, those with calcium, magnesium and/or vitamin C deficiencies, and people with cardiovascular and kidney problems may be more susceptible to toxic effects of fluoride. They warn, based on the quantity of fluoride being consumed through many sources, that this is a significant issue.
Take Action Against Fluoridated Water
We don't have to allow our water to be fluoridated just because it's been done for the last 60 years. New information tells us that fluoride is a dangerous substance and that we should limit our exposure. Citizens in every country can stand up against the norm and demand change like they have already done across Europe.
Fluoride Action Network is an organization dedicated to educating the public about toxicity of fluoride. See their list of 10 Facts About Fluoride and join their network. Visit the Fluoride Action Network website for a list of ways to end fluoridation in your community.
Which of these best describes you?
Books on Fluoride
Note that this website portrays my opinion. I want to help others consider a new or different view. Any action taken based on these opinions is the responsibility of the reader.
Copyright © 2018 Melis Ann
Original content written by Melis Ann published only on HubPages at the following web address: http://melisann.hubpages.com/hub/Drinking-Water-Fluoridation
Drinking Water Fluoridation in U.S. News
- CNN: Government recommends lowering fluoride levels in U.S. drinking water
The federal government is recommending changing the amount of fluoride in drinking water for the first time in 50 years.
- TIME Magazine: Health: Not in My Water Supply
It hardens teeth and prevents cavities, but 60 years after it began, fluoridation is meeting new resistance.
- Wall Street Journal: Government Advises Less Fluoride in Water
National Academy of Sciences panel concluded that the maximum allowable levels of fluoride in drinking water can cause health problems and should be lowered.
- NYTimes.com: EPA Proposes Phaseout of Fluoride-Based Pesticide
U.S. EPA today proposed to curb maximum levels of fluoride in drinking water out of concern for children's health.
- NPR: Officials Say Kids Getting Too Much Fluoride
Americans appear to be getting too much fluoride, so the federal government is proposing to tweak its recommendations for fluoride in drinking water. The concern is over a condition called fluorosis, which can produce white lines or spots on teeth.
- Scientific American: Second Thoughts on Fluoride
New research indicates that a cavity-fighting treatment could be risky if overused.
Do you agree?
Did this article change your mind about fluoridation?
Let's Be Reasonable About Fluoride
Yes, fluoride is naturally occurring, in water and inside of our bodies. We should probably use fluoride topically through the use of toothpaste and see the dentist regularly to have healthy, strong teeth. However, since fluoride is toxic, we need to control the amount we are exposed to. You need a prescription to use it as a supplement for that very reason ~ the dose needs to be controlled. Since each person's exposure to fluoridated products varies with consumption of water, juices, foods, pharmaceuticals, etc, medicating the water supply for everyone is uncontrolled dosing and unnecessary since it has not shown significant benefit.
© 2012 Melis Ann