The CDC is not alone in the campaign to force fluoridation on Americans.
The American Dental Association (ADA), along with their state dental chapters and local health officials, have teamed up with the CDC, writing Op-eds, testifying at state and municipal hearings, writing and phoning local decision-makers, and opposing attempts by citizens to remove fluoride from their drinking water.
Meanwhile, Delta Dental and the PEW Charitable Trust are providing millions of dollars in grants for fluoride equipment and chemicals to municipalities each year to entice them to initiate and continue the practice of fluoridation.
While the CDC, ADA, and local health officials continue to promote fluoridation, they also continue to do so without any precaution. Just this January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended a nation-wide reduction in fluoride levels after the CDC reported that 41 percent of American adolescents, ages 12-15, have dental fluorosis, a clear sign of overexposure to fluoride, and that the rate is continuing to increase steadily.
Also this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water (EPA) began reviewing the allowable amount of fluoride in drinking water, more than four years after the National Research Council reported to Congress that the current allowable fluoride levels (MCL/MCLG) were too high and not protective of public health. And yet, the promoters of fluoride are ignoring these issues, and continue to urge more municipalities to fluoridate their water, and states to pass bills mandating statewide fluoridation
The only thing that stands in the way of the CDC, EPA, and ADA forcing fluoride on more communities is YOU! The bottom line is that without citizen activists working at the local level, we will lose this crucial battle for cleaner and healthier fluoride-free drinking water. In fact, since 1990 more than 250 communities across North America have rejected or ended fluoridation, largely due to small groups of citizens organizing local campaigns to educate their neighbors and local decision-makers.
Get inspired! Learn about the more than 250 communities that have rejected fluoridation. You can click on each community to read news reports about their decision.
Local referendums and resolutions represent grassroots democracy at its finest. They give ordinary citizens the opportunity to address important public health issues right in their own community, and in the process, usually increase statewide and regional awareness of the issue through news coverage. In the process of removing fluoride, successful local campaigns also help build nationwide momentum for the end of fluoridation. As the old saying goes: "Think Global-Act Local".
The Canadian city of Waterloo, Ontario is a great example of a local campaign that helped build momentum for further policy change. In October of 2010, a group of citizen activists, led by Waterloo Watch, were successful in getting a referendum question on the municipal ballot asking citizens if they wanted to continue fluoridation.
Through constant media contact, letters-to-editors, door-to-door canvassing, and nonstop education of the public and local decision-makers, Waterloo Watch was successful in securing a majority of the vote opposing fluoridation. Following the campaign in Waterloo, campaigns to remove fluoride gained momentum throughout Canada, particularly in Calgary, Alberta, where just 4 months later, the city council voted 10-3 to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water for more than a million citizens.
And the momentum created by the Calgary victory has resulted in dozens of Canadian communities debating whether to continue fluoridation in recent months.
Citizens in the United States are also taking a stand and organizing campaigns to end fluoridation.
This year in New Hampshire and Arkansas, citizen groups got legislation introduced at the state-level which would require notices on all municipal water bills warning parents not to feed infants fluoridated water. Citizens in Tennessee, led by the Lillie Center were successful in getting a prominent team of bi-partisan legislators to call for an end to the promotion of fluoridation by the state. In Alaska, Fluoride Free Fairbanks along with many concerned citizens urged their city council to review fluoridation, and in March the city council's task force charged with studying the issue recommended that the city stop adding fluoride to their water. Clearly, a small group of educated and dedicated citizens can accomplish a lot when they organize locally against fluoridation.
Read the Fairbanks, Alaska report recommending an end to fluoridation, and share it with your local decision-makers.
So how can you help? The first step to end fluoridation in your community is to educate yourself about fluoridation and stay informed on the latest fluoride news and research:
- Check to see if your community is fluoridated, when it started, and what chemicals are currently being used.
- Send a request in writing to your local water company, and CC your Town Manager (or equivalent), asking for the annual cost of fluoridation chemicals, maintenance of fluoridation equipment, and a chemical analysis of the fluoridation chemicals used (usually available to municipalities from the manufacturers). This information will be important when discussing the cost and safety of the fluoridation program.
- Learn the general facts about, and arguments against fluoridation:
- Order the new book The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connett, PhD, James Beck, MD, PhD, and H. S. Micklem, DPhil. Called a "painstakingly researched exposé of fluoridation's overall ineffectiveness and toxicity", it is a must read for anyone interested in fluoride issues, and provides a complete science-based analysis of the entire practice of fluoridation.
- Watch the professionally produced 28-minute video "Professional Perspectives", featuring medical and scientific experts discussing fluoridation.
- Visit and explore the Fluoride Action Network's website where you will find accurate information on every aspect of fluoride and water fluoridation.
- Sign up for the Fluoride Action Network's e-mail bulletins. You'll receive breaking news, advocacy updates, and opportunities to help influence fluoride policy in your area and throughout North America.
- Read the latest fluoride news, and skim through FAN's news archives. Use the scrolls at the top of the page to see news from specific countries or states.
- Friend FAN on Facebook, for daily news, research, and advocacy updates.
- Subscribe to FAN's YouTube channel for regular video updates, and to watch the many fluoride videos that have been uploaded over the past several years.
- Follow FAN on Twitter for daily news, research, and advocacy updates.
Once you have learned the basics about fluoride, and have taken action to ensure you stay informed with the latest information, you are ready to take the second step, and become an advocate for fluoride-free water by working to educate others about the dangers of fluoride:
Spread the Word
- Send letters to your U.S. senators and representatives calling for an end to water fluoridation in the United States and for a new congressional hearing.
- Send letters to your state legislators calling for an end to local water fluoridation.
- Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper about the need for fluoride policy reform.
- Get your friends, family, and co-workers involved. Tell-a-friend about the dangers of fluoride exposure.
- If you are a medical professional, lawyer, elected official, victim of overexposure to fluoride, or member of the clergy, academic, scientific, or public health communities, please sign our Professionals Statement, then contact FAN about special ways you can help.
- Ask your doctor to sign our Professionals Statement. Download our Professionals Statement on fluoride here, print it out, and ask your doctor to sign it the next time you have an appointment. Then send it to us at: Fluoride Action Network, 82 Judson St., Canton, NY 13617.
- If you're a talk radio listener, call in and express support for reforming our fluoride laws. Even if the subject being discussed isn't explicitly about fluoride, many related issues can be a springboard for urging reform.
The third step, and the most influential step you can take to end fluoridation, is to get involved in an existing local campaign, or start your own.
Use the Fluoride Action Network's state and regional contacts list to locate an organizer in your state or region who can provide you with more detailed information about local fluoride action and campaigns. Another way to search for local campaigns is to use Google to simply search for "fluoride campaign in (insert your town/state)". If a local group has a website, you should be able to locate it quickly with a few internet searches.
Once you locate a local organization, call or email them to inquire how you can become involved. Make sure to provide your contact information and any professional qualifications you may have that you think may be helpful when you make contact. Generally, if a local campaign already exists, you will be able to immediately join in whatever advocacy activities they have organized.
If you find that a local campaign does not already exist, then it will be up to you to start you own:
Plan your Campaign
Determine what kind of policy change you want to pass. Your campaign goals will naturally influence your decision:
- Can you work immediately to pass a resolution ending fluoridation?
- Or would it be a better strategy to start with a resolution requiring an infant fluoride warning on water bills?
- Do you live in a state that mandates fluoridation? If so, you will have to start with either an infant warning campaign or a non-binding municipal resolution urging the state to let municipalities decide whether or not to fluoridate.
Identify How to Change Policy:
This information can usually be found quickly by calling your local water department or company. If they can't help you, then contact your local town office or representative. Once you know who has jurisdiction, you need to know how you can change the fluoridation laws or regulations. Most of the time you will be given two choices: collect petition signatures to get a question on the next ballot, or speak in front of a city council and call for a city council vote on your resolution.
- Who has jurisdiction over your communities' water fluoridation program?
- Is there a statewide mandate, did you town hold a referendum and vote in favor of fluoridation, or did a water board or city council pass a resolution approving fluoridation?
Make sure to note each option you are given, this way you can start with the easiest (eg, a unilateral decision by a mayor or water works director) then if that fails, act on the second easiest option (presentations before city hall and request a vote), and finally if that fails move to the next option (petition collection for a ballot referendum). Some campaigns have had success on the first try with little organizing needed, so start there, but know all of your back up options.
Every community is different, so track this information down by calling your city clerk, your water company, or even your local representative.
Plan a timeline for the resolution campaign. Make sure you know when, and how often, the water board or town council meets and how long it typically takes for a resolution to be passed. In bigger cities, it may take months for a resolution to become law. Also, make sure you know if there are any deadlines for submitting resolutions or referendums, and if there are any campaign or lobbying rules that must be followed when campaigning and lobbying decision-makers.
Initiate your Campaign
Identify and reach out to supporters. Fluoride campaigns work best when they are anchored by a coalition of groups and individuals, particularly medical and scientific experts.
- Who else might be interested in helping to pass the resolution?
- Do an internet search for anyone else who has opposed fluoridation in your community before.
- You can usually find supporters in news stories about previous fluoride campaigns, or in online forums or on social media sites opposed to fluoridation.
What Natural Allies Do You Have In The Community?
Try to find coalition partners sooner rather than later. Coalitions work best when everyone is involved in the process from the beginning. Naturopathic doctor associations, chiropractors, organic food producers, health food stores and their customers, environmental experts, retired water works employees, clean water organizations, environmental groups and medical professionals are generally good groups to approach for support initially.
If a referendum is your only choice for policy change, then start by learning the requirements for getting your question on the ballot. Your local Town Clerk can generally provide you will all of the requirements for putting together an official ballot petition. Once you know the rules, start going door-to-door with your petition, providing information about your referendum, and asking citizens to clearly sign their name. It helps to keep track of houses with no one home when canvassing a neighborhood, that way you can return at a different time to try again. Don't forget other great petitioning locations, including outside the town dump entrance, outside city hall, in public squares, at local festivals and fairs, and outside local sporting events.
Identify a town councilor you think will be supportive of your resolution. This is essential if your city council will be making the final decision. Without a councilor who will actually take ownership of the issue and make it his or her cause, it will be difficult to successfully pass a resolution. You can identify likely champions by investigating officials' voting records and asking your coalition partners if they have any allies on the city council. You can also provide each councilor with information on fluoride and approach them one by one requesting their sponsorship of your resolution.
Once you find a supportive councilor, meet with him or her. Try to have people who live in the councilor's district or ward meet with the representative. Once you arrange a meeting, try to organize as diverse a group as possible to represent your demonstrate that your issue has community support. At the meeting, you should present the councilor(s) with sample text of the proposed resolution, along with a packet of information supporting your resolution. This will make the councilor's job easier, and make them more likely to support your issue.
Educate the Public
- Spread the word. Without real public support, passing your resolution will be difficult. At the same time, one of the main reasons for working on a local resolution is to educate the public about the issue you care about. The resolution is, in a sense, a vehicle for educating the public. There are several ways you can do this.
- Try to get the media interested. Once your resolution is introduced and scheduled for a vote, contact the media and ask them to do a story about the campaign. Resolutions give local media a way to cover larger issues through a community angle. Write letters to the editor and OpEds in support of the resolution. When there is coverage of fluoridation in the local paper, try to find the online version of the story and have supporters "comment" on the story, showing support for your resolution. Stories that receive a lot of comments, or Letters to editors, are generally followed up with further coverage.
- Host a public forum about the resolution. It's usually a good idea to hold a community meeting or other educational event to talk to your fellow residents about your resolution. Reserve space in a public library, town hall, or social hall. Advertise your meeting in local papers, on the internet (with a Facebook group), and with posters around town. Organize a screening of the Fluoride Action Network's "Professional Perspectives" film. Host several key speakers opposing fluoridation, if you can, and invite city councilors, their staff, and members of the media to attend.
Remember to bring information packets to hand out to any members of the public or media who attend. Also, make sure to have a sign-up sheet to collect names, telephone numbers, and email addresses so you can alert these new supporters about upcoming campaign events and council actions.
- Canvass neighborhoods. Just because your resolution isn't a referendum doesn't mean you shouldn't go door-to-door looking for support. Write up a petition supporting your resolution and have locals sign it in support. This is a great way to educate the public and find local supporters, but if you also collect the address of each signer, you can later send a copy of the petition to city councilors highlighting the signers from their district, making the issue more personal for them.
- Keep in contact with local decision-makers. "Lobbying" is just another word for letting your elected officials know how you feel about an issue. Communicating with your councilor is a right, not a privilege. You should make sure all of the representatives on the city council have a packet of information about your resolution. Try to get constituents from different districts to arrange meetings with their representatives to show support for the resolution. Remember those petition signers? Now is the time to contact them and urge them to call or meet with their city councilor.
- Increase your base of support. As the date of the vote approaches, make sure you are working with residents across the city and asking them to call or write their representatives in support of the resolution. Constituents throughout your town should be contacting their representatives on the city council. Organize a community-wide "call-in" day during which people from every neighborhood will call their representatives in support of the resolution. If a particular representative is opposed to the resolution, do targeted outreach in that neighborhood (canvassing). You can also use free online petition like www.change.org to organize emails campaigns targeting local decision-makers.
- Attend all meetings. In some cases, especially with binding resolutions, committees or subcommittees will consider the resolution before the full city council does. Make sure you attend these meetings and present the argument for your resolution during the public comments section of any hearings.
- Pack the house. On the day your resolution is going to be voted on, make sure the city council chambers are filled with supporters of your resolution. Bring colorful and eye-catching signs to show support for the resolution. Encourage supporters to speak in favor of the resolution during the public comments section, and make sure you have a people ready with prepared remarks, particularly your scientific and medical experts. The day of the vote is your final chance to show that the community really cares about your issue.
A great example of a public presentation opposing fluoridation is Fluoride Free Austin's Thinking About Fluoride power point presentation (Click here for presentation) to the Austin City Council on March 22. (Also watch video of presentations to Austin council).
As your campaigning against fluoridation, it's important to keep in mind that community education takes time, discipline, and perseverance. While there are plenty of exceptions, most successful campaigns take months, if not years, to pass resolutions prohibiting fluoridation. To win, your community will first need to learn about the issue together, and eventually work together, turning your resolution into the community's resolution.
Again, it's crucial you consider yourself a teacher and not try to force your opinions on others, but instead take the time to educate your neighbors and local decision-makers. The TRUTH IS ON OUR SIDE, and when open-minded individuals take the time to look at the data and research, it's evident that the practice should be prohibited.
There is only one group that can truly protect your community from fluoride, and that is its residents. And yes, against all odds, YOU can do it!