- Politics and Social Issues
Is Fluoride in Water a Good Idea?
Putting fluoride in public water supply is called water fluoridation. The idea is to prevent tooth decay. However, the issues is controversial and complex with views from both sides.
The issue centers around safety of fluoride and possible other negative effects on health, the effectiveness of fluoridation for improving dental health, and individual right. There are arguments for and against putting fluoride in water. We will look at some of these arguments in this article.
After looking at both sides of the issue, I've concluded that fluoride and chloride in water or in toothpaste is a bad idea. I personally use a Seychelle's radiological water pitcher filter to help reduce fluoride and chloride in my drinking water. And I use non-fluoride toothpaste. Your regular water pitcher filter not be able to filter these molecules out because they are rather small.
Speaking of molecular science... If you look at the chemistry periodic table, fluoride, chloride, and iodine are in the same column on the table, meaning the atoms have same number of valence electron in their outer electron shell. That means they may behave similarly chemically in some instances.
Your thyroid glands have iodine receptors that uptake iodine in order to produce your thyroid hormones. When you ingest fluoride and chloride, they get into these receptors as well and block the uptake of iodine, causing low thyroid function. That may be one of the reasons why there is a prevalence of hypothyroidism.
Dr. Mercola writes about this and says that ...
"Altered thyroid function is associated with fluoride intakes as low as 0.05-0.1 mg fluoride per kilogram body weight per day"
Fluoride prevents tooth decay
For: The classic argument for water fluoridation is that fluoride prevents tooth decay. And dental health is often related to overall health. Between 1979-1989 in the United States, studies found that water fluoridation reduced cavities (also known as caries) by 8% to 37% in adolescents. The Center for Disease Control lists water fluoridation as the 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century. In 2003, World Health Organization says that cavities still affects 60 to 90% of schoolchildren in most industrialized countries.
Reported by BMJ Journal in 2000, a systematic review of 214 studies concluded that ...
"Water fluoridation was associated with an increased proportion of children without caries and a reduction in the number of teeth affected by caries. ... There was no clear evidence of other potential adverse effects."
Against: That same report in the BMJ also said ...
"The quality of studies was low to moderate ... A dose-dependent increase in dental fluorosis was found."
Dental fluorosis is discoloration or brown markings on children teeth due to over-exposure to fluoride.
Some scientist says that the initial studies that support the benefits of fluoride was scientifically weak and that studies are based on pharmacy grade fluoride rather than the more dangerous hydro-fluorosilicic acid which is what is put in some municipal water supply.
In one example, the "York Study" commissioned by the UK government resulted in ...
"We were unable to discover any reliable good-quality evidence in the fluoridation literature world-wide."
Fluoride may be less effective in preventing cavities as was once thought.
Furthermore, even if fluoride is effective in prevent tooth decay, it is effective as a topical application, not when you ingest fluoride.
At the same time, populations with non-fluoridated water is also dropping in tooth decay just as much as population with fluoridate water. So maybe it is not water fluoridation that is causing the drop in tooth decay. Perhaps it is the toothpaste that is responsible. Or even the education of flossing. That makes more sense.
From personal experience, I find that the health of the teeth is dependent on the health of the body, rather then whether you are using fluoride toothpaste or not. Back then when my health was poor, I got cavities despite using fluoride toothpaste. Now when my health is good, I don't get cavities (have not had for decades). And I'm not using any fluoride.
In fact there are studies showing that fluoride CAUSES tooth decay -- article here.
Research Dr. Price's (a dentist) work and you find that he found that native people eating traditional foods instead of modern foods little tooth decay. Reference link here. I don't think the native people where using fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride is Safe in Low Dosage
For: Large number of people worldwide have been drinking fluoridated water for years without problems.
WebMD notes that ...
"Low doses (up to 20 mg per day of elemental fluoride) of supplemental fluoride taken by mouth appear to be safe for most people. Higher doses are UNSAFE and can weaken bones and ligaments, and cause muscle weakness and nervous system problems. High doses of fluoride in children before their permanent teeth come through the gums can cause tooth discoloration."
What Level of Fluoride is Safe?
Fluoride is safe only in very low dosages such as in the order of one part per million. This number is found on the British Fluoridation Society site that says ...
"improvement of dental health by securing the optimum fluoride content of water supplies (one part per million) in those areas where high levels of tooth decay remain a public health problem"
The Department of Health and Human Services say the level should be on the order of 0.7 milligrams per liter.
Although the World Health Organization general guideline for fluoride in water is that it be no more than 1.5 mg per liter.
The U.S. National Research Council did a review in 2006 and the 12-member panel unanimously concluded that the maximum contaminate level of fluoride which the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) had set at 4 mg per liter should be lowered.
Fluoride is Toxic when Over-exposed
Against: The problem is that many people are getting higher intake of fluoride than this.
Fluoride gets into our system by ...
- foods fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride
- tea with naturally occurring fluoride
- processed meats. When bones are mechanically deboned, microscopic bone fragments with fluoride gets into the meat.
- Fluoridated water
- Air pollution
- and certain medications
If water is used in soups for example, then you get fluoride that way as well as by drinking water. With all these exposures, many people are get too high of a dosage that it becomes a health problem. Adverse health effects from over-exposure to fluoride primarily are dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis is noticed by discoloration or brown markings on teeth which occurs during enamel development in children. When adults are over-exposed to fluoride, they may not have these symptoms because their teeth has already been formed. However that does not necessarily mean that they are within safe levels of fluoride exposure.
Skeletal fluorosis is a more dangerous bone disease that causes damage to bones and joints resulting in pain. This condition often mimics the arthritic symptoms and is sometimes mis-diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis. Fluoride is suspected of causing bone spurs and other pre-clinical symtomps of arthritis.
The book Nourishing Traditions summarizes fluoride in this way ...
"Fluoridated water should be avoided at all costs. Fluoride is an enzyme inhibitor that contributes to bone loss, bone deformities, cancer and a host of other illnesses. It offers little real protection against tooth decay." [page 53]
Fluoride can affect cognitive function. The book Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA Standards mentions a study where ...
"The IQ scores in both males and females declined with increasing fluoride exposure."
You can read this book for yourself online here.
Some People Have Extra Sensitivity to Fluoride
Every individual is different. There is a small population of individual who have increased sensitivity to fluoride. See the documentary on the right about one such individual.
People with fibromyalgia should not drink fluoridated water. Fibromyalgia is chronic widespread pain with an unknown cause. Because excessive fluoride causes muscle weakness and nervous system problems which are similar to symptoms of fibromyalgia, some people suspect that fluoride may be a possible suspect. The International Center for Nutritional Research writes that ...
"Besides being a known enzyme poison, fluoride causes calcium to be deposited in soft tissue where it does not belong. The fluoride is directly responsible for causing stiffness of joints, soft tissue rigidity, premature aging of the skin, skeletal fluorosis (severe brittleness of bones), painful arthritis, calcification of areas of the brain that deal with sleep (decreasing melatonin production) and behavioral centers. Fibromyalgia patients must avoid consumption of fluoridated drinking water, toothpaste, topical applications, medications with fluoride, and juices made from fluoridated water"
Health Dangers of Fluoride
See video on the right as to what some authorities are saying about fluoride.
Some possible health effect of fluoride are ...
- Neurotoxicity - Certain populations in China have reported lower IQ's in children exposed to fluoride at the 2.5 to 4 mg per liter levels in drinking water. Some animal studies also suggest cognitive and behavioral effects.
- Animals studies show that fluoride can be detrimental to the brain by reducing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, reduction in lipids, reduction in antioxdiant defenses, increase uptake of aluminum, and increase formation of beta-amyloid.
- Hypothyroism - Fluoride can decrease thyroid function Thyroid is the body thermostat regulator and controls metabolism.
- Fluoride may accumulate in the pineal gland causing decrease melatonin. The pineal gland produces the sleep regulating hormone melatonin.
The Mood Cure writes ...
"If you drink unfiltered tap water, the added fluoride and chlorine can interfere with the proper functioning of your thyroid. Both chemicals can be mistaken for thyroid-vital iodine ... and, therefore, displace iodine in your thyroid."
On the Beverly Meyer podcast, guest Dr. Jack Kruse says there are three main ingredients for life: the photo-electric effect, water, and magnetism. And he says that our drinking water needs to be be fluoride free to combat the effects of EMF on dehydration of our cells.
Jack Kruse writes on his site that ...
"Fluoridated water blocks rehydration and causes us to lose salt simultaneously."
You can tell if you are dehydrated by seeing if you have high BUN / Creatinine ratio.
Dr. Mercola Interviews Jeff Green on Fluoride
Fluoride is a toxic waste by-product
Against: Fluoride is a toxic by-product of certain industrial processes such as the aluminum industry. Fluorosilicic acid is a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry. You can hear references to these in the video on the right where Dr. Mercola interviews activist Jeff Green.
Fluoride can be found in some fumigants for crops. Over-exposure to fluoride has become such a concern that the EPA is proposing a phaseout of sulfuryl fluoride in crop fumigants as reported by a New York Times article that says that children's excessive exposure to fluoride poses a risk to tooth and bone damage.
Fluoride in Toothpaste
Against: The article by Dr. Briffa "Is fluoride really effective in preventing tooth decay, or could it be doing us more harm than good?" seem to be of the same opinion.
He recommends the use non-fluoride toothpaste such as AloeDent which contains vitamin K shown to help prevent tooth decay.
Next time, take a look at your fluoride toothpaste. It typically will say that if you accidentally swallow a certain amount, contact your poison control center.
In a podcast by Dr. Lauren Noel on thyroid health, she mentions that she had switched away from fluoride toothpaste long ago. The thyroid is very sensitive to environmental toxins. Fluoride can decrease thyroid function.
Next time, take a look at your non-fluoride toothpaste. Some of them also say that if you accidentally swallow a certain amount, contact your poison control center.
Fluoride Risk Overblown
For: Some of the argument against fluoride is bordering on "conspiracy theory". Some media that uses scary pictures may be bordering on "scare tactics".
There may be slight risk. What in the world does not have risk these days? But putting things into perspective, the risk of fluoride may be said to be overblown -- unless you are the few who have particular sensitivity to it.
David Ropeik writes in his book "How Risky Is It, Really?" ...
"So the health risks of fluoridating drinking water are that roughly 3 percent of America's children are at risk of developing spots on their teeth. That's a real risk, but it's a long way from communism and cancer and poisoning the brain."
Against: Is the risk overblown? Minuscule mineral like fluoride does not have immediate effects. It can take years of accumulation to see any symptoms. That is why studies often can not show direct harm. However, taken in aggregate it may produce physiological harm over time.
If the risks are overblown, then why are there so many books written about the effects of fluoride?
"Case Against Fluoride"
Books Against Fluoride
Not all water is used for drinking
Against: Not all water taken out of that tap is used for drinking. They are used for washing dishes, washing cars, and watering lawns where having fluoride in the water serves no benefit. It would be a waste.
For: Water fluoridation is cost effective. In 1989 dollars, it cost $0.51 per person per year. At this low price, it does not matter that some fluoride goes down the drain.
Individual Right to Choose
Because the arguments for and against flouridation is complex, there are some people who wants flouridation and others who do not.
Against: By putting fluoride into public water supply, individuals no longer have the right to choose whether they want fluoride or not. You are forcing individuals who do not want it to have it. By not putting it into the water supply, individuals who wants it can put it in themselves. And those who don't, will not have to. Water fluoridation is forced medication where the dosage can not be well controlled. Some people drink more water than others and get too much.
Since we already have fluoride in toothpaste. It makes sense to put fluoride in toothpaste, because that is what we use for dental health. Those who believe in fluoride can use toothpaste with fluoride. And those who do not will have non-fluoride toothpaste available. Why do we also need fluoride in our water?
For: Those who do not want fluoride may be able to filter some of it out by water filter pitchers with carbon filters and other filtration systems. The amount that they can remove is dependent on their filtration used.
If we do not put it into the water supply for them, the children and the poor will not be getting the fluoride for dental health. And it is those who needs it the most. So fluoridation is for the common good while sacrificing a little bit on individual right. In any society there is always a balance between the good of the many and the right of the individual.
Fluoride occurs naturally in Earth's natural water supply. Flouridation of public water supply is to replicate the benefits enjoyed by communities whose happen to have optimal level of fluoride in their natural water source.
Countries that Are Against Water Fluoridation
Against: The countries Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, and Scotland have banned water fluoridation. And the following countries who had once done water fluoridation have now stopped:
- Federal Republic of Germany stopped in 1971,
- Sweden stopped in 1971.
- Netherlands stopped in 1976,
- Czechoslovakia stopped in 1990,
- German Democratic Republic stopped in 1990.
- Soviet Union stopped in 1990
- Finland stopped in 1993
Studies in Finland, East Germany, Cuba, and Canada found that dental decay does not increase when they stop fluoridation.
For more detailed list of countries that have rejected water fluoridation and why, see PDF on actionpa.org.
So if your city, state, or country is still putting fluoride in their water, isn't it time that it stop too?
Based on analysis of arguments on both sides of the issue and weighing both the benefit to harm ratio, it is the opinion of this article that "No, it is NOT a good idea to put fluorine in water supply."
If your tap water contains fluoride, note that not all counter-top carbon water filter pitcher will be able to filter out the fluoride. According to posionpaste.com ...
"Regular water pitchers with carbon filters will not remove fluoride as some claim they do. A double multi-media cartridge filter system must be used to allow proper contact time for effective fluoride removal."
They and FriendsOfWater.com recommends the Seychelle Water Filter Pitcher with the radiological filter which can remove 75% of the fluoride from the water.
The best way to remove fluoride is using a Activated Alumina Defluoridation Filter, Distillation Filtration, or reverse osmosis systems.
Article was written March 2012 is only opinion at the time of writing. Statistics may only be accurate at the time of writing. Author is not a medical professional and may receive compensation from the display ads within content.
-  The British Fluoridation Society
-  Water fluoridation - Wikipedia
-  Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States
-  Fluoride Action Network
The Fluoride Action Network is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating public awareness regarding the dangers of fluoride in drinking water.
-  FluorideResearch.org
-  EPA Proposes Phaseout of Fluoride-Based Pesticide - NYTimes.com
U.S. EPA today proposed to start gradually banning a pesticide often used on cocoa beans and dried fruits that degrades to fl...
-  Water fluoridation controversy - Wikipedia
-  Community Water Fluoridation Status by State
-  Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards
-  Fibromyalgia - International Center of Nutritional Research
-  FLUORIDE: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings - WebMD
Find patient medical information for FLUORIDE on WebMD including its uses, effectiveness, side effects and safety, interactions, user ratings and products that have it.
-  CDC - About CDC Ten Great Public Health Achievements
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century
-  Effective use of fluorides for the prevention of dental caries
-  Systematic review of water fluoridation | BMJ
Abstract Objective: To review the safety and efficacy of fluoridation of drinking water. Design: Search of 25 electronic databases and world wide web. Relevant journals hand searched; further information requested from authors. Inclusion criteria wer
-  Is fluoride really effective in preventing tooth decay ...?
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-  Green Tea & Fluoride
A look at the science supporting the use of green tea, by Nadine Taylor M.S., R.D.
-  Jeff Green Talks About The Dangers of Water Fluoridation
Jeff Green, an activist who opposes water fluoridation, talks about the dangers brought by toxic fluoride in your drinking water supply.
-  HEALTH EFFECTS: Fluoride & the Brain
Discover fluoride effects on your brain through these human studies, articles, and notable quotes delving on the fluoride and brain connection.
-  Fluoride Filter Pitcher, Fluoride Filter Pitcher Reviews, Fluoride Filter Pitcher Guide
Fluoride filter pitcher and fluoride filter pitcher reviews and information. A fluoride filter pitcher can reduce the amount of fluoride in your drinking water.