By Dr. Mercola
Fluoride Action Network (FAN) is among a coalition of environmental, medical and health groups urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the addition of fluoride to public drinking water supplies.
The EPA has been served with a petition that includes more than 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing the risks of water fluoridation to human health.
In particular, the petition notes, "the amount of fluoride now regularly consumed by millions of Americans in fluoridated areas exceeds the doses repeatedly linked to IQ loss and other neurotoxic effects."
The EPA is authorized, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to prohibit the use of a chemical that poses an unreasonable risk to the general public or particularly vulnerable populations.
EPA’s Own Risk Assessment Shows Water Fluoridation Poses an Unreasonable Health Risk
The petition urges the EPA to exert their authority to prohibit fluoridation additives in drinking water, noting that their own Guidelines for Neurotoxicity Risk Assessment shows:1
- Neurotoxicity is a hazard of fluoride exposure
- The reference dose that would reasonably protect against neurotoxicity is “incompatible with the doses now ingested by millions of Americans in fluoridated areas”
“In fact,” the petition states, “the amount of fluoride now regularly consumed by many people in fluoridated areas exceeds the doses repeatedly linked to IQ loss and other neurotoxic effects; with certain subpopulations standing at elevated risk of harm, including infants, young children, elderly populations and those with dietary deficiencies, renal impairment and/or genetic predispositions.”2
As for fluoride’s effects on the brain, in 2014 Lancet Neurology released a study, authored by a Harvard doctor, among others, that classified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin.3 It wasn’t the first time.
In 2012, a meta-analysis, also by Harvard researchers, clearly showed that children exposed to fluoride in drinking water had lower IQs, by an average of seven points, in areas with raised concentrations.4
Fluoride Warrants Assessment Priority, Per EPA’s ‘Gold Standard’
Fluoride’s neurotoxicity is an especially unreasonable risk, the petition notes, because fluoride’s predominant effect on tooth decay is related to topical application, not oral ingestion:5
“Since there is little benefit in swallowing fluoride, there is little justification in exposing the public to any risk of fluoride neurotoxicity, particularly via a source as essential to human sustenance as the public drinking water and the many processed foods and beverages made therefrom.”
Even the National Research Council reviewed the evidence, at the EPA’s request, and concluded in 2006 that fluoride has the ability to interfere with brain function.
Nearly 200 fluoride/brain studies have been conducted since, and research published in Lancet Neurology classified fluoride as one of 12 chemicals known to cause developmental neurotoxicity in humans (others include lead, mercury and PBCs).6
Chemicals known to be neurotoxic in humans are classified by the EPA as “gold standard” chemicals that should receive assessment priority.
“The existence of so many human studies on fluoride neurotoxicity highlights the urgent need for a diligent risk assessment, per EPA’s Guidelines, to ensure that the general public, and sensitive subpopulations, are not ingesting neurotoxic levels,” the petition explains.7
Even Low Doses of Fluoride May Be Toxic
Fluoride has repeatedly been linked to reduced IQ even at supposedly “safe” water fluoride levels of less than 4 mg/L (EPA’s “safe” level).
It’s often stated, and assumed by health agencies including the EPA, that dental fluorosis, a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled, is one of the most significant adverse effects of consuming too much fluoride.
But in reality, this is an outward sign that fluoride is damaging the body. Research has found impairment in cognitive abilities among children with fluorosis (even mild fluorosis) compared to children with no fluorosis.
Also noteworthy, reduced IQ has been seen in study participants with higher urinary fluoride concentrations, even when no dental fluorosis was present, which suggests that the doses of fluoride that impair cognitive ability are lower than those that cause severe dental fluorosis.8
The petition highlighted several other studies that also demonstrated “fluoride’s ability to cause neurotoxic effects at low levels,” including one that found just 0.5 uM of fluoride (.009 mg/L) caused lipid peroxidation after 48 hours of exposure.
“Most individuals living in fluoridated areas in the United States have fluoride levels in their blood that exceed this level,” they wrote.
At daily doses ranging from 0.7 to 2.3 mg/L day of fluoride, adverse effects including reduced IQ, behavioral alterations, neurochemical changes, hypothyroidism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been demonstrated.
Did You Know That Most of Western Europe Has Rejected Water Fluoridation?
The vast majority (97 percent) of Western Europe has rejected water fluoridation. In fact, most countries fluoridate neither their water nor their salt, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), tooth decay in 12-year-olds is coming down as fast, if not faster, in non-fluoridated countries as it is in fluoridated countries.9
In contrast, in the U.S. 200 million Americans live in areas where water is fluoridated. From city to city, debates over whether to start or end water fluoridation rage on, including in Cortland, New York.
Earlier this year, city officials had planned to hold a public hearing to consider state grants to study adding fluoride to its water supply, but they’ve since backed away from the idea, in part because residents expressed concern that water fluoridation amounts to mediating the public without consent.10
In the video above, the city of Cortland hosted a forum to discuss the health effects of water fluoridation.
FAN's senior adviser, Paul Connett, Ph.D., and director Bill Osmunson, debated two pro-fluoridation dentists — Johnny Johnson and Steven Slott — during the forum. According to FAN (although you can watch for yourself in the video):11
“They’re both notorious for posting thousands of pro-fluoridation comments on anything fluoride-related on the internet. Meanwhile, in person they were less than impressive, unable to cite even a single primary study proving fluoridation’s safety or effectiveness.”
10 Million in India at Risk of Disability From High-Fluoride Water
If there were any doubt about fluoride’s toxicity, one need only look at what happens when people are exposed to high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in their drinking water. Fluoride is naturally occurring in some areas, leading to high levels in certain water supplies “naturally.”
Fluoridation advocates often use this to support its safety; however, naturally occurring substances are not automatically safe (think of arsenic, for instance).
Data from India’s Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry indicate that nearly 49 million people are living in areas where fluoride levels in water are above the permissible levels. Exposure to levels above 10 mg/L may cause crippling skeletal fluorosis, as well as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures and muscle spasms.
It’s estimated that more than 10 million people in the area are at risk of disability due to high fluoride levels in the water.12 When levels in water are too high, the fluoride accumulates in bones, replacing calcium. In the early stages of skeletal fluorosis, pain occurs followed by changes to the bone structure that can hinder movement. It most often affects hands, legs, arms and the back.
Skeletal fluorosis goes through three stages, which makes sense since fluoride is a cumulative toxin. The more exposure you get, and the longer you get it, the worse your symptoms are likely to be. According to FAN, symptoms of early stage skeletal fluorosis include:
- Burning, prickling and tingling in your limbs
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic fatigue
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
The second clinical stage of skeletal fluorosis is characterized by:
- Stiff joints and/or constant pain in your bones; brittle bones; and osteosclerosis
- Calcification of tendons, or ligaments of ribs and pelvis
- Osteoporosis in the long bones
- Bony spurs may also appear on your limb bones, especially around your knee, elbow and on the surface of tibia and ulna
In advanced skeletal fluorosis (called crippling skeletal fluorosis), your extremities become weak and moving your joints difficult, and your vertebrae partially fuse together, effectively crippling you. If detected in its early stages, fluorosis can be treated via safe (low-fluoride) water and proper nutrition.
Prevention and Education Are Needed to Prevent Cavities
Recommendations released by the University of Calgary School of Public Policy championed the use of prevention and education to prevent early childhood cavities, noting water fluoridation wouldn’t be needed if such measures were effectively practiced.
The paper’s authors even pointed out that water fluoridation is not preventing tooth decay, as areas with water fluoridation still have a high rate of early childhood cavities. The recommendations call for increased education for parents on the importance of proper feeding and dental hygiene for infants, as well as for health care professionals to discuss these issues with patients. Co-author Jennifer Zwicker told 660 News:13
“We’re recommending that at baby visits ... and any kind of interface with public health nurses or pediatricians, just explaining to parents, you need to be cleaning their gums, you need to be brushing their teeth, just so you’re not ending up with children going to the emergency room needing surgery for dental pain.”
In the U.S., meanwhile, the petition urges the EPA to follow the lead of western Europe and reject water fluoridation. “The EPA is the one federal agency with the authority to make this happen here in the U.S. We urge EPA to act accordingly,” they wrote.14