I spent a lot of time in the dentist's office as a child. During many of these visits I cringed and cried. The absolute most dreaded experience for me was the fluoride treatments. It tasted nasty, kind of burned, and it seemed to take FOR.EV.ER. The drool would build up, and I just knew some of that goo was going down my throat. ICK! Little did I know that my aversion was legitimate. There is a growing amount of research data showing that there are dangerous consequences from ingesting fluoride.
In my research, I've seen medical literature linking fluoride to asthma, infertility, thyroid dysfunction, headaches, gastric distress, acne, bone fractures, osteoporosis, joint pain, ruptured tendons, kidney and liver damage, reduced IQ, decreased memory, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired glucose metabolism, cardiac dysfunction, bone cancer, calcification of the pineal gland, sperm damage, and lead poisoning.
There are only a few ways to remove fluoride from water including distillation, reverse osmosis filters, and activated alumina filters. But avoiding fluoride isn't as easy as buying a filter for your house. Beer, wine, fruit juices, infant formula, processed cereals, bottled water, soft drinks, tea, antibiotics, toothpaste, and pesticides can contain high amounts of fluoride (Source). It is also found in mouthwash, teflon, and antidepressants like Prozac.
The truth about fluoride:
1. The fluoride added to our drinking water is NOT naturally occurring. It is known as sodium fluorosilicate or fluorosilicic acid and is a by-product of the aluminum and phosphate fertilizer industries. It cannot be released into the air (illegal--air pollutant) or dump it into streams (also illegal—water pollutant), but it can be sold to water treatment plants as an additive. Some water utilities purchase these additives from industries in China as well as in the U.S.
2. Fluoride is the only chemical added to our water to treat humans. The other chemicals are added to treat the water itself (e.g. chlorine)
3. Most European countries (around 98%) do not fluoridate their water. Their rates of tooth decay are virtually the same as the U.S.
4. Fluoride works topically when in contact with the outer surface of tooth enamel, not systemically when ingested.
5. Fluoride is not essential for our bodies to function.
6. Fluoride competes with iodine in our tissues, organs, and cells. Iodine IS essential to virtually every process in our bodies.
7. Fluorine is the most electronegative and reactive element in the Periodic Table. As a result, fluorine is capable of forming complexes with many of the metals found in enzymes, therefore causing enzymatic impairment. Fluorine also reacts with the calcium ion to form calcium fluoride, causing hypocalcemia by binding the calcium thereby decreasing the amount available for other processes.
8. Sodium fluoride (hydrofluosilicic acid) is rated as more toxic than lead in chemistry indexes and only slightly less toxic than arsenic. It is used in insecticides, roach killer, rat poison, and toothpaste.
9. Dental fluorosis (see link for pictures) can cause chalky white spots as well as brown spots. After asking about some white spots on my teeth, I was told by my former dentist that fluorosis only causes brown spots. Au contraire.
10. Fluoridated toothpaste contains this warning:
"WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”
According to my calculations, you should seek immediate medical attention after drinking one 10 oz. glass of Little Rock city water.
11. There is enough fluoride in a tube of toothpaste to kill a child if he ingested the contents in their entirety.
12. Central Arkansas Water uses sodium fluorosilicate as it's source of fluoride. The current level in Little Rock is .80 mg/L. (Source)
13. Children ingest more fluoride than adults and are more at risk for fluorosis.
14. The amount of fluoride in breastmilk is .004-.009 mg/L, regardless of the mother's fluoride intake. Hmmmm. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that. :)
“Babies should not receive fluoride supplementation during the first six months of life, whether they are breastfed or formula-fed.”
• Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for your Baby and Young Child, 2009 (as cited by HealthyChildren.org).
“If you add fluoridated water to your infant’s baby formula, you may be putting your child at risk of developing dental fluorosis…When formula concentrations need to be diluted, it is recommended parents use bottled water that is fluoride-free or low in fluoride water or tap water from a reverse osmosis home water filtration system, which removes most of the fluoride…”
• Academy of General Dentistry, Monitor Infant’s Fluoride Intake, 2007
Infants drinking formula made up with water containing 0.7 mg/L fluoride will receive approximately 175 times more fluoride than a breast-fed infant (and that's not even including the amount of fluoride already present in the formula itself). Sure, filters are available, but what about low income families? Can they afford alternatives?
I don't know about you, but I have a problem with mass medicating the population through our drinking water. Placing medication in our drinking water is medical malpractice and unethical—it is not dosed according to the patient's medical history and is not evaluated on an individual basis for efficacy or side effects.
Just last week, I heard a very misleading “public service announcement” by the Arkansas Department of Health (Division of Oral Health) talking about the benefits of fluoridated water. This same department is responsible for the recent fluoride legislation that was quickly pushed through the Senate and House with little public notice. It is now waiting to be signed into law by Governor Beebe.
So what can you do??? I'm so glad you asked! Here are some ideas:
• We can start by asking the water utilities to add a warning on their bills not to use fluoridated water for infants. Here is a quote from the Fluoride Action Network:
Since 2006 the American Dental Association, dental researchers, and medical organizations throughout North America have recommended that infants not consume fluoridated water in an effort to reduce the risk of fluorosis. While dentists have been warned by the ADA, little has been done to warn the general public or government officials. We believe that if a community adds fluoride to the water, it has the responsibility to at least disclose it to customers, and act to protect the most vulnerable population--our children--by warning parents about the risk of fluorosis.• Ask Walmart and other grocery stores to stop selling fluoridated “Nursery Water” for infants.
• Ask your local library/bookstore to carry The Fluoride Deception by Chris Bryson and The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connett.
• Tell your friends and family what you've learned about fluoride. Share this article on Facebook. (See button at bottom of this post if you're reading from the web. If you're reading in Google Reader or an email, there are little blue words "share on Facebook" at the bottom.)
• Write a letter to your local newspaper.
• Send an Online Message to Congress in support of the Professionals' Statement Calling for an End to Water Fluoridation and a new Congressional Hearing. To send your letter, click here. If you're an Arkansan, contact Governor Beebe's office and ask him to veto the recent fluoride legislation.
• Ask your local grocery store to provide a non-fluoride toothpaste alternative.
If you're convinced of the dangers of fluoride, print this article and take it to your next dental cleaning and kindly refuse the topical fluoride treatment.
There is a really great 28-minute video called “Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation” in which 15 prominent scientists explain why they are opposed to this practice. It can be accessed online here.
Be sure to read part II here.