By Stuart Cooper, Campaign Manager, Fluoride Action Network
The fluoride-free movement has continued to grow throughout the world at a staggering pace. We have had more than 400 communities around the world end existing fluoridation programs or reject new efforts to fluoridate either by council vote or citizen referendum since 1990.
In 2014 alone, we’ve confirmed that at least 30 communities providing water to more than 9,961,111 residents rejected or ended fluoridation. Some of 2014’s victories include:
- Bucks County, Pennsylvania 385,000
- Hernando County, Florida 173,422
- Bolton, U.K. 276,790
- Southampton and parts of Hampshire County, U.K. 195,000
- Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada 76,550
- Prince George, British Columbia, Canada 71,970
- Rotorua, New Zealand 70,000
See the full list of victories.
Israel Bans Fluoridation
Nearly eight million residents in Israel will no longer have fluoride added to their drinking water.
On July 29, 2013, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled1 that new regulations approved by the current Health Minister, Yael German, required the country to reverse its 14-year-old nationwide fluoridation mandate and stop adding fluoride chemicals into public water supplies in 2014.
These regulations ended the national mandate, but it was thought that individual communities could choose to fluoridate. However, the Health Minister stated in August 2014 that fluoridation would be outlawed throughout the country as of August 26.2
Minister German was aggressively attacked in the media for her new regulations. In response to the intense bullying of German by the pro-fluoridation lobby in Israel, FAN sent an open letter3 to the Minister supporting her opposition to the practice and had it signed by over 100 international professionals.
With the fluoridation ban in Israel, the victory numbers jumped up substantially, adding countless more communities throughout the nation without fluoridation.
This brings the number of people freed from the practice in 2014 to nearly 10 million, making 2014 the best year yet for the fluoride-free movement! In comparison, last year we saw about 1 million freed from the practice.
When we add Israel to the number of residents freed from fluoridation since 1990, we are talking about a whopping 14.8 million people. This also brings the official number of countries in the world with 50 percent of their population drinking fluoridated water down to 10, and leaves Ireland as the only country with mandatory fluoridation.
Ireland Will Likely Be Next
Ireland is the last remaining country in the world with mandatory fluoridation, and perhaps the most likely to follow Israel’s example. In recent years, the fluoride-free momentum has been building in Ireland, and we believe the tipping point has been reached.
In 2013, legislation to end the nationwide mandate4 in Ireland was introduced, which would not only reverse the mandate, but would make fluoridation a criminal act. This bill got a significant boost when a major Irish magazine5 began investigating fluoridation.
They found a parliamentary report6 calling for an end to fluoridation that was suppressed by the government for seven years, and the Labour party’s chief whip, Emmet Stagg, called for an end to the practice,7 saying that time had run out for “mass medication” by fluoridation.
In the spring of 2014, the Agriculture Minister announced that the Irish government would appoint an international group of experts to review public water fluoridation8 in response to the growing public pressure in opposition to fluoridation.
The next day, on March 10th, the Cork County Council, the largest county council in Ireland voted by a huge majority9 in favor of a motion calling on the federal government to ban fluoridation throughout the country. The vote had cross-party support and was expected to have a domino effect with other county councils.
A domino effect is exactly what it had, when on October 6th, Dublin’s City Council passed a motion10 by a vote of 22-20 calling for the immediate cessation of water fluoridation in Ireland. Dublin is the capital and largest city in Ireland, and home to more than 500,000 residents.
Also in October, fluoridation was also being debated in the House of the Oireachtas11 (Irish Legislature).
Senator Mary Ann O’Brien made a motion to end fluoridation because of the "fundamental human right of every Irish citizen to choose whether or not they have their water medicated with fluoride given that they are now paying for it."
Senator O’Brien wrote a powerful op-ed for the Irish Independent on October 1st explaining in detail why she was bringing the motion.12
And, on November 10th, the Kerry County Council unanimously passed the motion13 opposing public water fluoridation. The vote received cross party support and was passed without any disagreement amongst the councilors, making it the fifth major Council to adopt a similar resolution in 2014, representing approximately 1.5 million Irish residents.
These votes are the result of a national effort that is gaining significant momentum due to campaigners like the West Cork Fluoride Free Campaign,14 scientist Declan Waugh,15 The Girl Against Fluoride,16 and the hard-working fluoridation fighters Robert Pocock and Gladys Ryan who preceded them.
You can learn more about the campaign in Ireland, and hear directly from many of these key players and organizers by downloading November’s International Fluoride Free Teleconference.
Ireland isn’t the only country possibly on the verge of ending fluoridation. In Canada, a resident of Peel, Ontario, Liesa Cianchino (chairperson of Concerned Residents of Peel to End Water Fluoridation), launched a lawsuit17 against the Peel Region and the Province of Ontario, Canada.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of adding fluoride to municipal drinking water in Canada and points out that the practice is also a violation of the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act.
If successful, the lawsuit could end fluoridation throughout Canada, and could establish that councilors in fluoridated communities are personally liable for the damages caused by fluoridation. The action will be heard in Ontario Superior Court in Brampton.
2014 saw infant fluoride warnings18 published in the annual water quality reports for San Francisco and East Bay, California (population 7.4 million), thanks to members of Clean Water California.19
These two communities now join Sunnyvale, California, Austin, Texas, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the state of New Hampshire in adding these warnings to their annual water quality reports, bringing the number of residents these warnings are sent to approximately 10 million.
There is also infant warning legislation20 currently being considered by the Massachusetts legislature, where the bill was recently sent to study committee and will receive an executive committee vote this winter. If passed, the warning would help reduce fluorosis rates and bring awareness to an additional 6.6 million people.
Fluoride Classified as Dangerous to Developing Brains
While this isn’t good news for the health of our children, it is a victory that fluoride’s toxicity is becoming more apparent to the scientific community. An article was published in the March 2014 journal The Lancet Neurology21 in which medical authorities classified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin. The prominent peer-reviewed medical journal published the article entitled “Neurobehavioral effects of developmental toxicity.” The authors point out that 27 studies of children exposed to fluoride in drinking water found an average lowering of IQ by seven points; twice that of the effects of secondhand smoke on children. This confirmed what FAN has been saying for years.
At present, a total of 42 human studies22 have linked moderately high fluoride exposures with reduced intelligence, and over 100 animal studies have shown that fluoride exposure can cause brain damage. Most striking among these are 30 (out of a total of 32 investigations) that have shown that fluoride lowered the ability of animals to learn and remember. Studies have also demonstrated that fluoride toxicity, caused by overexposure, can lead to a wide variety of health problems, including:
Increased lead absorption Disrupts synthesis of collagen Hyperactivity and/or lethargy Muscle disorders Thyroid disease Arthritis Brain damage, lowered IQ, and dementia Skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures Lowered thyroid function Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) Inactivates 62 enzymes and inhibits more than 100 Inhibited formation of antibodies Genetic damage and cell death Increased tumor and cancer rate Disrupted immune system Damaged sperm and increased infertility
Journal Article Calls for Prohibition of Fluoridation
Also this year, The Scientific World Journal published a review article23 by Dr. Stephen Peckham and Dr. Niyi Awofeso entitled, “Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention.” According to the authors:
“Available evidence suggests that fluoride has a potential to cause major adverse human health problems, while having only a modest dental caries prevention effect. As part of efforts to reduce hazardous fluoride ingestion, the practice of artificial water fluoridation should be reconsidered globally, while industrial safety measures need to be tightened in order to reduce unethical discharge of fluoride compounds into the environment… coordinated global efforts to reduce adverse human health effects on fluoride need to start with ensuring that its introduction into water supplies is prohibited.”
Increasing Our Momentum
Overall, 2014 has been a good year for the fluoride-free movement. FAN has seen a significant increase over the past year in the number of campaigns to end fluoridation worldwide, which is why this year we launched a new coalition called the Worldwide Alliance to End Fluoridation.24 This was open to any group of citizens organized to end fluoridation.25 There was an overwhelming response, with over 120 founding member groups representing 12 countries, 28 U.S. States, and 6 Canadian Provinces. And we fully expect the campaign momentum from 2014 to carry over into the new year to make 2015 an unprecedented year for the fluoride-free movement.
Most of 2014's victories were the result of citizens who organized local opposition and voiced their concerns to council members, either working in coordination with FAN, or using our materials and arguments to educate their neighbors and decision-makers about the serious health risks associated it the practice. Our hats are off to these citizen campaigners and their professional allies. Without dedicated campaigners around the world our goal of a future without fluoridation couldn’t be possible. To start your own campaign, please visit our Take Action section, and to join an existing campaign please visit the Worldwide Alliance directory.
Again, thank you for your continued support for FAN and your efforts to end fluoridation. Please help us make 2015 even more successful by making a tax-deductible donation today. Thank you.