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Fluoride in Drinking Water

Story at-a-glance -

  • The Ministry of Health in Israel lifted the mandatory requirement for water fluoridation that was put in place in 1970; there is now a nationwide ban on water fluoridation in Israel
  • Adding fluoride to water is a medical treatment, and a forced one at that because this substance is difficult to remove from your water
  • Fluoride was recently added to a list of 11 known industrial chemicals that harm brain development in human fetuses and infants
  • Despite fluoride’s known developmental risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new recommendations for the use of fluoridated toothpaste in infants and children
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the so-called “safe” level of fluoride in drinking water at the ridiculously high level of 4 ppm (mg/L) in 1986. We are still living with this standard even though the National Research Council recommended it be lowered in 2006
  • The EPA is expected to complete its review of this standard in 2016, meanwhile it is clear that American children are being over-exposed to fluoride
 

Israel Bans Fluoride

September 09, 2014 | 99,537 views

By Dr. Mercola

Adding to a growing global movement to acknowledge the serious health risks associated with fluoride exposure, as of August 26, 2014, the Ministry of Health in Israel lifted the mandatory requirement for water fluoridation that was put in place in 1970.

There is now a nationwide ban on water fluoridation in Israel, a decision Israeli Health Minister Yael German said “would allow Israeli parents and doctors to decide on their own whether to provide fluoride to children, in what doses, and in what manner.”1

While the debate over water fluoridation has many layers, the most fundamental is that adding fluoride to water is a medical treatment, and a forced one at that because this substance is difficult to remove from your water. As Professor Arnon Afek, director-general at the Health Ministry, told the Jerusalem Post:2

“Individuals have the right to decide if they want it [fluoride] or not… We cannot force people… The ministry supported it for over 40 years, but this is a new era. The world has changed, and we can educate parents.”

This new era has ushered in many similar decisions from countries and communities around the globe seeking to protect their citizens from this avoidable neurotoxic poison.

Since 2010, over 150 communities have either stopped water fluoridation or rejected new proposals. Canada has dropped from about 60 percent of the population drinking fluoridated water down to about 32-33 percent.

Victories have also been logged in New Zealand, Queensland, Australia, and across the US. Dr. Paul Connett, director of one of our partner organizations the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), said:3

“We congratulate [Health Minister] Yael German for resisting the bullying tactics of fluoridation proponents… She has offered the international public health community the model to follow on the fluoridation issue... We would dearly like to see the same integrity from health officials in countries that continue this outdated, unethical, and reckless practice.”

Did You Know Fluoride Exposure Is Linked to Reduced Intelligence?

The debate over the dangers of fluoride has been ongoing for more than six decades, despite the fact that study after study has confirmed that fluoride is a dangerous, toxic poison that bio-accumulates in your body while being entirely ineffective at preventing dental decay.

In 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added fluoride to a list of “chemicals with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.”4

Recently, it was also added to a list of 11 known industrial chemicals that harm brain development in human fetuses and infants,5 compiled by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. So what exactly does fluoride do to your brain?

There are at least 39 human studies linking moderately high fluoride exposures with reduced intelligence and 12 human studies linking fluoride with neurobehavioral deficits. Shockingly, there are also three human studies linking fluoride exposure with impaired fetal brain development,6 and approximately 100 animal studies linking it to brain damage. This includes such effects as:7

Reduction in nicotinic acetylcholine receptors Damage to the hippocampus Formation of beta-amyloid plaques (the classic brain abnormality in Alzheimer's disease)
Reduction in lipid content Damage to the Purkinje cells Exacerbation of lesions induced by iodine deficiency
Impaired antioxidant defense systems Increased uptake of aluminum Accumulation of fluoride in the pineal gland

So Why Is the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommending Fluoride Toothpaste for Children?

While Harvard researchers added fluoride to their list of chemicals that harm brain development in infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), going starkly against the precautionary principle, issued a new recommendation encouraging the use of fluoridated toothpaste for all children, starting at tooth eruption (and regardless of tooth decay risk).8

It would be interesting to hear an explanation from AAP as to why it is, if indeed fluoride was needed by babies, that the level found in mothers’ milk is so extremely low (0.004 ppm). Instead of encouraging parents to give babies more fluoride, they should be warning parents not to bottle-feed their babies with formula made up with fluoridated tap water. Those babies so fed get about 200 times more fluoride than nature intended.

AAP also recommended fluoride varnish in the primary care setting every three to six months starting at tooth eruption. Young children will obviously be swallowing much, if not all, of the toothpaste, so they will be getting a twice-daily exposure to fluoride, in addition to any fluoride in their drinking water. It is surprising that AAP does not appear to have reviewed the extensive animal and human studies on fluoride’s ability to damage the brain.

I don’t recommend fluoridated toothpaste for adults, much less for infants and children. There is not a single process in your body that requires fluoride, but swallowing this toxin has been found to damage your soft tissues (brain, kidneys, and endocrine system), as well as teeth (dental fluorosis) and bones (skeletal fluorosis).

It’s also known that over time fluoride accumulates in many areas of your body, including areas of your brain that control and alter behavior, particularly your pineal gland, hippocampus, and other limbic areas.

Animal studies have shown, for instance, that fluoride ingestion had a profound influence on the animals' brains and altered behavior.9 Pregnant rats given fluoride produced hyperactive offspring. And animals given fluoride after birth became apathetic, lethargic "couch potatoes." Other research has linked fluoride toxicity with the wide-ranging problems listed below.

Increases lead absorption Disrupts collagen synthesis Increases manganese absorption, which is also linked to lower IQ in children Crippling skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures
Genetic damage and cell death Increased tumor and cancer growth Disrupts immune system Inhibits antibody production
Brain damage and lowered IQ Dementia Arthritis Severe eye problems, including blindness
Impaired thyroid function Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) Inactivates 62 enzymes Muscle disorders

Parents, Know the Facts About Fluoride’s Supposed Benefits

The health risks of fluoride ingestion are far too great to be justified, even if fluoride helped prevent tooth decay. But to add insult to injury, it doesn’t. It's often said that fluoride helps to re-mineralize your teeth and make them stronger, but a groundbreaking study published in the journal Langmuir uncovered that the fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere six nanometers thick.10

You'd need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair! Scientists now question whether this ultra-thin layer can actually protect your enamel and provide any discernible benefit, considering the fact that it is quickly eliminated by simple chewing. They wrote: "…it has to be asked whether such narrow… layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel."

Fluoride advocates also often claim that the reduction in tooth decay that's occurred since the 1950s is a benefit of fluoridated water, but the facts just don't add up. For example, in 1999, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed that dental caries declined precipitously during the second half of the 20th Century. But what they failed to mention is that tooth decay rates "precipitously declined" in ALL Western nations, regardless of whether or not fluoridation was used – and most of those countries did NOT fluoridate!11

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, the US, which fluoridates about two-thirds of public water supplies, actually has higher rates of tooth decay than many countries that do not fluoridate their water, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden.12 Furthermore, if fluoride were effective in preventing caries, you would expect to see an increase in tooth decay when fluoridation is stopped. Yet, this is not what we see! The following demographic studies and fluoridation trends make it clear that fluoridation has very little to do with whether or not you develop cavities:

  • In Japan, fluoridation has been virtually nonexistent since the 1970s, yet rates of dental caries have declined since that time.13
  • In the town of Tiel in the Netherlands, water fluoridation was discontinued in 1973, and by 1993, rates of dental caries had declined.14
  • In the town of Kuopio, Finland, water fluoridation was stopped after 1992. In 1995 and 1998, dental caries had either decreased or stayed the same.15
  • In two towns in former East Germany, a significant fall in the prevalence of dental caries was seen in the 20 years following cessation of water fluoridation.16
  • In Canada, "the prevalence of caries decreased over time in the fluoridation-ended community while remaining unchanged in the fluoridated community."17

Maine Drinking Water Found to Contain Dangerously High Levels of Fluoride

One of the risks of adding fluoride, a known poison, to public drinking water supplies is what may happen if the dosing is off. A study published in Scientific American revealed that nearly 38 percent of wells tested in Maine contained fluoride at levels above the state’s maximum exposure guideline.18 In this case, the source wasn’t municipally added fluoride but rather fluoride leaching out of granite and into the groundwater. Maine’s suggested fluoride limit of two milligrams per liter is already half of the EPA’s limit, yet experts are calling for Maine residents to have their well water tested and take steps to filter out fluoride if necessary.

In 1986, the US EPA set the enforceable regulation for fluoride – the maximum contaminant level (MCL) -- at 4 mg/L or 4 ppm. But this standard was based on an end point of crippling skeletal fluorosis and is hopelessly out of date. In 2003, the US EPA asked the National Academies to review this standard, and in 2006, the National Research Council concluded that the enforceable standard of 4 ppm was unprotective of health and recommended the EPA perform a risk assessment to determine a new standard (MCL) and goal (MCLG).

After 8 years, the EPA has still not produced a new standard even though much more research indicates that there are far more sensitive end points than crippling skeletal fluorosis including the IQ studies discussed above. It now appears that the EPA’s reassessment will not be completed until 2016. It’s not only naturally sourced fluoride in well water that’s a risk, of course. Last year, in one Australian town, a suspected electrical fault allowed fluoride levels to reach nearly double the guideline amount in local drinking water.

Routine daily monitoring revealed the elevated fluoride levels, which reached 2.8 milligrams per liter (the Australian Drinking Water Guideline is 1.5 mg/L), may have remained elevated for several days. The fact is that there is a very real possibility of other equipment faults mistakenly dosing populations with dangerous levels of fluoride, and fluoride exposure can easily reach toxic levels. Many more communities are catching on and removing this poison, often in keeping with public demand. In Philadelphia, for instance, Bucks Co. Water Supply Agency (BCWSA), which serves 385,000 people stopped buying Philadelphia’s fluoridated water, noting on its website:19

“BCWSA has heard your request and is happy to announce that our customers have a choice to use fluoride or not through your dentist instead of being mandated through your water supply. The new source does not have fluoride added to it.”

Take Action Against Fluoridated Drinking Water

In addition to the 4 ppm enforceable standard, in 1986 the EPA also set a non-enforceable recommended guideline of 2 ppm (mg/L), which is intended to protect against “cosmetic” issues like dental fluorosis. But that guideline does not seem to be working because, according to the CDC, 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis—unattractive discoloration and mottling of the teeth that indicate overexposure to fluoride. Clearly, children are being overexposed, and their health and development put in jeopardy. Why? At least when it comes to topical application, you have a choice. You can easily buy fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash.

But you're stuck with whatever your community puts in the water, and it's very difficult to filter out of your water once it's added. Many do not have the resources or the knowledge to do so. Stay tuned, as the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation, both in the US and Canada. Clean pure water is a prerequisite to optimal health. Industrial chemicals, drugs, and other toxic additives really have no place in our water supplies. So, please, support the anti-fluoride movement by making a donation to the Fluoride Action Network today and consider joining its new campaign Parents Against Fluoridation by contacting FAN’s campaign manager Stuart Cooper at stuart@fluoridealert.org.

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