Time to rethink fluoride

In case you haven’t checked lately, I’ve got the inside scoop, fellow Rochesterarians: Monroe County adds fluoride to our water.

Here’s what they say on their website. It’s not much.

Water provided by the MCWA contains about 1 ppm (part per million) fluoride, the level recommended by the EPA.

Also this, on their page about water treatment — next to a pic of a little girl brushing her teeth, presumably with fluoridated toothpaste:

Before the clean, pure water is pumped to your house, fluoride is added to it to help keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free.

Controversy about fluoridating water isn’t new, of course. But lately the debate has been heating up as more research suggests we really shouldn’t be drinking the stuff — even at the low levels set by our good friends at the EPA.

Consider for example this news piece, describing the National Research Council’s (NRC) “first-ever published review of the fluoride/thyroid literature:”

Fluoride, in the form of silicofluorides, injected into 2/3 of U.S. public water supplies, ostensibly to reduce tooth decay, was never safety-tested.

“Many Americans are exposed to fluoride in the ranges associated with thyroid effects, especially for people with iodine deficiency,” says Kathleen Thiessen, PhD, co-author of the government-sponsored NRC report. “The recent decline in iodine intake in the U.S could contribute to increased toxicity of fluoride for some individuals,” says Thiessen.

“A low level of thyroid hormone can increase the risk of cardiac disease, high cholesterol, depression and, in pregnant woman, decreased intelligence of offspring,” said Thiessen.

Common thyroid symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain, slow reflexes, and more. It’s estimated that 59 million
Americans have thyroid conditions.

Robert Carton, PhD, an environmental scientist who worked for over 30 years for the U.S. government including managing risk assessments on high priority toxic chemicals, says “fluoride has detrimental effects on the thyroid gland of healthy males at 3.5 mg a day. With iodine deficiency, the effect level drops to 0.7 milligrams/day for an average male.” (1.0 mg/L fluoride is in most water supplies)

Add that to the growing list. In 2006 the National Academy of Sciences called on the EPA to reevaluate its fluoridation recommendations, in part because we may be overexposing infants to fluoride:

(WASHINGTON, March 21) — A new report from the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concludes that the current allowable level of fluoride in tap water is not protective of the public health and should be lowered, citing serious concerns about bone fractures and dental fluorosis, a discoloration and weakening of the enamel of the teeth that the committee noted is associated with other adverse health impacts.

The NAS report puts concerns about the safety of fluoride in tap water squarely in the mainstream of scientific thought. The committee called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reevaluate and tighten current safety standards in light of these concerns.

In just one example of the potential health risks from water fluoridation, the committee cited concerns about the potential of fluoride to lower IQ, noting on page six of the report that the “consistency of study results appears significant enough to warrant additional research on the effects of fluoride on intelligence.” IQ deficits, the committee noted, have been strongly associated with dental fluorosis, a condition caused by fluoride in tap water (NAS pg 175).

The committee’s findings support Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) recommendation that fluoride exposure should be limited to toothpaste, where it provides the greatest dental benefit and presents the lowest overall health risk.

Being conservative on matters like this, it seems to me it’s a no-brainer. Stop fluoridating the water now.

Make that “yesterday.”

We don’t understand it enough. We don’t understand how it accumulates and the effects of long-term exposure. We don’t understand how individuals react to given doses.

It’s not worth risking our babies’ brains.

But that’s just me. I decided to email the Monroe County Water Authority to ask them some questions about their fluoridation program and give them a chance to present their well-thought-out justification for fluoridating:

1. What is the MCWA’s position on fluoridation today given the current science?

2. What cost-benefit analysis have you done, and has it been updated to compare the presumed positive impact of fluoridated water on dental health vs. the potential public health impact of over-exposing infants and adults with thyroid issues?

3. How much does the county spend on fluoridation annually?

4. Considering how ubiquitous fluoridated toothpaste and rinses are today, does spending money to fluoridate people en masse really make for good public policy any more?

I’ll post again when I get a response.

A question I didn’t ask, but probably should have, is where they get their fluoride and whether they test it for purity. See this, for instance:

The fluoride added to public drinking water is actually fluorosilic acid. It is described by critics as an industrial waste product. Supporters prefer to call it an industry byproduct. Most of it has come from Florida’s phosphate fertilizer industry.

Florida’s phosphate rock is about 3.5 percent fluorine. To make phosphoric acid for fertilizer, the rock is mixed with sulfuric acid. The mixture produces a gas called silicon tetrafluoride. The gas is sent through ductwork and a water scrubber to create fluorosilic acid, a clear liquid that in high concentrations is toxic. The acid is what fertilizer companies sell as a fluoride additive.

However, one of the little-known effects of Hurricane Katrina was to cripple the production of fluoride. Since then, more of America’s supply of the controversial chemical is coming from China – a country not always known for the highest safety standards on exports.

Yeah, now, there’s an understatement . . . and you thought a little lead paint on your kid’s Thomas the Tank Engine toy was worrisome . . .

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One Response to Time to rethink fluoride

  1. nyscof says:

    Over 1700 professionals are calling for an end of fluoridation. You can join them here:
    http://congress.fluorideaction.net

    For more info
    http://www.FluorideAction.Net

    In the meantime, only the governing body has the legal authority to stop fluoridation according to NYS which means if you get enough people to call, lobby and email them, they should do what their constituents want and stop fluoridation.

    NYS Department of Health statistics already show fluoridation has failed New York State.
    Here’s a chart reflecting that information http://www.freewebs.com/fluoridation/chart.htm

    Click on the image a couple of times to make it get bigger

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