Fluoridation Flows and Flaws
Fluoride recently began flowing through the tap water into millions of Southern California households. But the pipeline of information to warn the public about fluoride exposure is apparently clogged up with something.
any people need to avoid fluoride altogether to preserve their health. We know this because scientists in government agencies have documented it thoroughly. Babies up to 1 year of age; pregnant women; elderly individuals; and anyone with kidney problems, thyroid problems, liver problems, diabetes mellitus, or cardiovascular problems all need to be as fluoride free as possible.
The level of fluoride added to the water, we are repeatedly told, is “optimal” and “safe.” Unfortunately, the level of fluoride in the water is meaningless until we know the actual daily dose an individual receives. People who drink lots of fluoridated water are getting far more fluoride into their bodies than those who drink little.
And water is just the first item on the list, because exposure to fluoride and fluoridated water comes from many sources. Watch for fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash, dental treatments, soft drinks, juice, commercially raised fruits and vegetables (grown with fluorine-containing pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer), processed and canned food, wine, beer, coffee, and tea, to name a few sources—not to mention increasing fluorine pollution in the environment.
The U.S. Public Health Service reported in 1991 that people living in cities with “optimal” water fluoridation can easily receive a total daily fluoride exposure exceeding 6.5 milligrams per person —more than 600 percent higher than the “optimal” amount.
Perhaps our regional health leaders are reluctant or even embarrassed to post warnings about known safety problems with the public water supply caused by the intentional addition of fluoride, or maybe they are just too busy. The government research quoted below is probably in their files. One of them might even be planning to write a press release sooner or later, but who knows? In the meantime, the following notes of caution may help fill the information gap.
In October of 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that fluoridated water marketed for use in infants cannot claim to reduce the risk of dental cavities. One month later, in November of 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA) announced that babies up to 1 year of age should avoid fluoridated water because they are at high risk of developing dental fluorosis. This defect of tooth development can result in staining, pitting, and corrosion of the enamel.
“In Canada, we are now spending more money treating dental fluorosis than we do treating cavities. That includes my own practice,” says Hardy Limeback, PhD, DDS, and former President of the Canadian Association of Dental Research. (Canada is among the tiny number of countries that add fluoride to some of the public water supplies.)
But dental fluorosis is more than a cosmetic problem: It’s the first visible sign of fluoride overdose. The same week the ADA warned about shielding babies from ingesting fluoride, the British medical journal, The Lancet (November, 2006), reported that fluoride may damage a child’s developing brain. The article described fluoride as an “emerging neurotoxic substance” because of evidence linking fluoride exposure to lower IQs in children and brain damage in animals.
Babies and pregnant women are not the only ones who need to avoid fluoride. In 1993, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) listed several groups of people at high risk for fluoride toxicity. Following are excerpts from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, April 1993.
“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. Because fluoride is excreted through the kidney, people with renal insufficiency would have impaired renal clearance of fluoride. [Renal clearance means how well the kidneys are able to do their job and filter the body’s blood.]
“Impaired renal clearance of fluoride has also been found in people with diabetes mellitus and cardiac insufficiency…. People over the age of 50 often have decreased renal fluoride clearance.…Postmenopausal women and elderly men in fluoridated communities may also be at increased risk of fractures.”
The biological effect of fluoride on living tissue is the disruption of enzyme activity, including the enzymes that maintain life in the cells of the human body. Fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that was used for decades in Europe as a drug to treat overactive thyroid by depressing thyroid function. Alarmingly, the dosage once prescribed to reduce thyroid activity is about the same amount ingested by people in many communities today.
Fluoride is more toxic than lead and nearly as toxic as arsenic. The toxicity rating of lead is between 3 and 4 (3 is moderately toxic, 4 is very toxic). Fluoride is rated at 4, while arsenic is slightly above 4 (Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, 5th Edition, 1984).
Healthy kidneys are able to clear less than 50 percent of the fluoride taken into the body, and kidneys are prone to damage in the fluoride-filtering process. Fluoride is bone-seeking, and fluoride that is not excreted by the kidneys accumulates primarily in the bones, never to leave. Does it make any sense to surround the bone marrow, the blood cell factories of the body, with a toxic element more deadly than lead?
As the saying goes, “When all is said and done, more has been said than done.” The measurable benefit of drinking fluoridated water to fight cavities appears to hover around zero. All over the world the rate of dental cavities has fallen dramatically in developed countries, even though most have never added fluoride compounds to their water. The common factor for improved outcomes seems to be better nutrition and higher health standards.
If you are one of the millions of people for whom any amount of fluoride exposure is a bad idea, you need fluoride-free water. Removing fluoride from tap water at home is not simple, requiring the purchase of equipment to either distill the water, or filter it using reverse osmosis. It may be more feasible to buy water at the supermarket or have it delivered to your home. Eating organic foods and juices is another way to reduce fluoride exposure.
The fluoride being added to our water is actually toxic sludge scraped from the smokestack filters of American industry. Fluoride is a byproduct of the aluminum, steel, and fertilizer industries, among others. Because of this, we not only get a dose of corrosive fluorosilicic acid in our daily coffee, we also get an extra shot of arsenic and lead in each cup.
Government databases are overflowing with impartial scientific observations confirming that water fluoridation is a seriously bad idea. Our children, especially, already exhibit signs of fluoride overdose.
More and more health leaders who take the time to study the published evidence are reversing their position on water fluoridation, switching from fluoride promotion to fluoride prevention. I look forward to a day in the not-too-distant future when the fictional science of politics and economics that currently clogs the pipelines of information will be purged and washed away. On that day, rational, evidence-based science will flow through a fluoride-free public water supply.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #22.
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