Movement to Remove Fluoride From US Water Supplies Continues

Story at-a-glance

  • While water fluoridation is purported to decrease your risk of dental cavities, fluoride needs to be applied topically for this to work. It doesn’t benefit your teeth when swallowed
  • Swallowing fluoride displaces iodine from your thyroid, as iodine and fluoride are both halogens. Without iodine, you cannot make active thyroid hormones, raising your risk for hypothyroidism
  • Fluoride is a mitochondrial poison that sabotages your mitochondria’s ability to create cellular energy in the form of ATP, and an enzymatic reactor, meaning it reacts with enzymes in your body


This is an older article that may not reflect Dr. Mercola’s current view on this topic. Use our search engine to find Dr. Mercola’s latest position on any health topic.

By Dr. Mercola

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared water fluoridation one of the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. But is it really?

It would actually be more accurate to say that fluoride is one of the most pernicious toxins in your water supply. To kick off our annual Fluoride Awareness Week, Dr. Bill Osmunson, a dentist in the Seattle area, highlights some of the dangers associated with this practice.

Fluoride — A Dubious Anticaries Solution

Osmunson, who has been a dentist for over 40 years, was a longtime proponent of water fluoridation, as are most dentists. That all changed after he listened to a presentation by Dr. Hardy Limeback, a dentist, Ph.D., researcher and professor emeritus of the University of Toronto Dental School.

"[He's] very credible," Osmunson says. "He [gave] a presentation that showed fluoridation did not improve or lower dental caries. It was a real shock to me … I started looking at more of the fluoride [research] because I have a master's in public health (MPH). As a practicing dentist, fluoride is part of both of my professions.

I felt it was my responsibility to really look into this in more detail. That's how I started in on the fluoridation. I got involved with the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and a few other groups in trying to reduce the amount of fluoride that people are ingesting."

Does Fluoridated Toothpaste Reduce Caries?

According to Osmunson, research shows topical fluoride helps reduce radiation caries (caries resulting from excessive head X-rays for cancer) and rampant dental caries (resulting from excessive sugar and junk food intake combined with a lack of dental hygiene). As noted by Osmunson:

"People use fluoride in their toothpaste because they think it's going to really have a great benefit. It will some, but not much. The problem is we swallow too much of it, especially infants."

Still, while it may reduce cavities a bit, topical fluoride will not prevent caries or stop it in its tracks. True prevention requires addressing your diet, because caries develops in response to an abnormality in your oral microbiome. Moreover, since your mouth is part of your gut, it's also a gut microbiome issue.

Fluoride Is a Toxin

While water fluoridation is purported to decrease your risk of dental cavities, the evidence supporting this practice is flimsy at best, since fluoride needs to be applied topically for this to work. It doesn't benefit your teeth when ingested and absorbed systemically.

A major downside of drinking fluoridated water is that it displaces iodine from your thyroid, as iodine and fluoride are both halogens. Without iodine, you cannot make active thyroid hormones. Women are already at high risk for hypothyroidism, and drinking fluoridated water will further increase this risk.

Fluoride is also a mitochondrial poison that sabotages your mitochondria's ability to create cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and an enzymatic reactor, meaning it reacts with enzymes in your body.

When fluoride is added to the water system it also leaches lead out of old pipes, increasing the neurotoxic effects of fluoride. A year and a half ago, the National Toxicology Program, Office of Health Assessment and Translation began evaluating fluoride after FAN nominated it for evaluation.

At present, they're doing animal studies to fill in some of the gaps. After that, they'll move on to evaluate studies on humans. So far, they've confirmed that animal research suggests neurotoxic effects. This is no surprise, considering 50 studies have linked fluoride with reduced IQ in children.

Americans Are Overexposed to Fluoride

Part of the problem with water fluoridation in particular is the fact that this strategy medicates people without regard for age, weight or medical status. Infants drinking fluoridated water can get a dose 100 times higher than maximum recommended limits, even by conservative U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations.

The EPA has done both a dose-response analysis and a relative source contribution analysis, and this data shows that at the 90th percentile, a third of children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years are getting significantly more fluoride than what they should.

Bear in mind that the EPA does not even aim to protect 100 percent of the population, only 90 percent. Infants are excluded altogether because they end up getting such a toxic dose. Infants receiving formula made with fluoridated water are getting hundreds of times more fluoride than breastfed babies.

"The latest research we have that was put out by Dr. William Hirzy [a former risk assessment scientist at the EPA] shows a safe dose to protect against a 5 IQ point loss is 0.045 mg F/day and many should only be getting about 0.001 milligrams (mg) per kilogram per day. That's the same as mother's milk. We should be reducing the amount of fluoride that we're getting. [That's] very important," Osmunson says.

"Unfortunately, the EPA, when the National Research Council in 2006 said the maximum contaminant level was too high … instead of lowering it … they raised it because they realized that [water] fluoridation would stop [as] there are too many sources of fluoride …  

The latest research shows there's a 5 IQ point drop in the United States with fluoridated water and the fluoride sources that we're getting. We're getting far too much and it is harming our brains."

Status Update on Petition to End Water Fluoridation in the US

Last year, FAN filed a petition with the EPA to stop water fluoridation nationwide. It was denied. One of the reasons given for the denial was that FAN had not done a comprehensive analysis of all the uses of fluoride.

"That's setting the bar so high it's impossible to abide by the law or file a complaint by the law … [Fluoride is] used in so many areas, like pesticides, post-harvest fumigants, medications, dental products, water, toothpastes — all these different sources.

To do a comprehensive analysis of all sources is virtually impossible," Osmunson says. "The EPA has never done it. They're saying, 'Well, we're not going to agree with you because you haven't done it.'"

FAN has now filed a lawsuit and the court will evaluate the information de novo. This means FAN and EPA will stand on equal footing, and the court will not have to give deference to the government, which is typically the case. Osmunson is hopeful the court will see reason.

In the case of water fluoridation, it's quite clear the EPA has not only failed to protect public health, but is actively sabotaging the health of bottle-fed babies everywhere there's water fluoridation.

Nearly 6 in 10 Adolescents Have Signs of Fluoride Overexposure

One of the most visible consequences of fluoride overexposure is dental fluorosis, those white specks and mottling of teeth that now affect 58 percent of children and adolescents. Dental fluorosis, while considered a mere cosmetic issue, is a warning sign that more harmful, invisible metabolic effects are taking place. As noted by Osmunson:

"We're getting too much fluoride. When fluoridation first started, we were assured by public health authorities that only 10, maybe 15 percent, of the public would get dental fluorosis … A few years ago, the federal government came on out with a survey. They found 41 percent of children and adolescents had dental fluorosis. The most recent one that we know of … [shows] 58 percent have some degree [of dental fluorosis].

[W]hat we're even more concerned about is that 20 percent have moderate dental fluorosis, which is a sign of way too much [fluoride], and 2 percent have severe dental fluorosis in the United States. [Water] fluoridation is contributing to that.

The EPA says, 'Well, you know, we're only worried about 90 percentile.' There are 2 percent that are having severe dental fluorosis. That's a huge number. That is something we must stop. The best [way] of stopping it is to stop fluoridation of public water."

Water Fluoridation Is Unregulated

Interestingly, there's no federal agency in charge of regulating water fluoridation. The EPA merely permits fluoridation. EPA is prohibited by Congress from adding anything to water for the treatment of humans, so they don't add fluoride to water. They just allow it to be done, and they keep the maximum allowable contaminant levels high enough so that it's possible to do it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) really should regulate fluoride, seeing how it's a drug, yet the agency has continuously deferred regulatory action. The ultimate decision to add fluoride to water is made at the local level by your city's water district.

"[I]t's the local people who are supposed to do all the scientific research," Osmunson says. "Now, think about that for just a second. You have people in the water districts who are — maybe they run a store, maybe they run a business, maybe they're a lawyer, maybe they're a scientist …

They don't typically have a science background, and yet we're asking them to evaluate the science on something that's given to everyone without freedom of choice. They're making this decision for you of whether that drug is safe and effective. In fact, they're doing the FDA's job …

But who are they relying on? The CDC, to a large extent. Who does the CDC rely on? The American Dental Association. What is the American Dental Association supposed to do? Protect dentists. Now, dentists make a significant amount of money on fluoride.

When this was brought up to me at first, I was rather defensive, saying, 'Well, I don't really make any money on fluoridation. It prevents decay.' It probably doesn't prevent decay, No. 1. No. 2, if you add up all the money used on fluoride in the dental office, it's a significant amount of money.

Your fluoride topical applications are significant. Of course, then, the water fluoridation companies have to get rid of that toxic substance somehow — by putting it into the water. Pollution is the solution. It's not really the right way to go, but that's what's happening …

[Fluoride in water] is taken and given to us without individual consent. No doctor could do that. As a dentist, I can prescribe fluoride for my patients on record, but I can't do it for everybody. Yet the water districts, who are not legally able to prescribe, do that."

Fluoride Is an Unapproved Drug

Interestingly, while fluoride supplements in the form of drops, tablets and lozenges have been on the market since the 1950s, they've never received approval by the FDA, as the scientific evidence for safety and effectiveness was found lacking. This remarkable situation came to light in 1992, when John Kelly, a New Jersey General Assemblyman, started looking into the fluoride issue after reading a study showing higher rates of bone cancer in fluoridated communities compared to nonfluoridated areas.

Since only 17 percent of New Jersey communities had fluoridated water at the time, dentists frequently prescribed fluoride supplements instead. In light of the study's findings, Kelly "felt it was prudent to obtain the studies supporting the claims of safety and effectiveness for these prescription fluoride products."

First, he contacted the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Dental Pediatrics. All initially said they'd provide him with studies, but after checking their records, they confessed they didn't have any.

He was then directed to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), which promised to have the studies promptly sent out. None came. After six weeks, NIDCR confessed no studies could be found in their files and suggested he contact the FDA, since it had approved the drugs. To quote Kelly:1

"Six months later I was stunned when I was informed by the FDA that they had no such studies and that the products in question, which had been prescribed to millions of infants and children since the 1950s, were not approved by the FDA."

Kelly petitioned the FDA to remove these unapproved fluoride products in 1993. No action was ever taken. Last year, FAN and the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology again petitioned the FDA to remove them from the market.2

The petition was filed after the FDA issued a warning letter to Kirkman Laboratories, a fluoride supplement manufacturer, to immediately discontinue marketing of fluoride products as they have never been approved as safe and effective. How is it an unapproved drug, for which warning letters are sent out to manufacturers, is being added to drinking water?

Fluoride Is Very Difficult to Filter Out Once Added

Fluoride is a very small molecule, making it tremendously difficult to filter out once added to your water supply. Any simple countertop carbon filter, like Brita, will not remove it.

If you have a house water carbon filtration system that has a large volume of carbon, then it may reduce the fluoride as fluoride removal is in direct proportion to the amount of fluoride and the time it's in contact with the media. It's just not going to get it all. Among the more effective filtering systems for fluoride removal are:

  • Reverse osmosis (RO). The drawback is that it will remove many valuable minerals and trace elements as well. RO systems also need frequent cleaning to avoid bacterial growth. So, use a tankless RO system with a compressor
  • Water distillation which, like RO, gets everything out, including beneficial minerals. You then need to restructure the water
  • Bone char filters and biochar. We're currently in the process of developing a filter that combines biochar with activated charcoal

Clearly, the simplest, most effective, most cost-effective strategy is to not put it in to begin with.

2017 Fluoride Conference

Since 2010, 220 communities have rejected water fluoridation. If you want to learn more about how you can get involved to prevent or end water fluoridation in your community, join FAN's fluoride conference in Washington D.C. September 16 and 17, 2017. It's open to anyone who's interested. Bookmark FAN's website, and check back for more information about this conference.

"My biggest concern is freedom of choice. Fluoridation of water adds too much fluoride to many individuals, most of us, all of us. It's done without freedom of choice … America stands for freedom. We need to have freedom and allow people to not have fluoride.

Some people are being harmed and they don't want the fluoride. I have one lady whose son has real problems with fluoride. He can't even take a shower or a bath in fluoridated water because he's so chemically sensitive. He's autistic. What do you do for this young man?

For a while, they tried to find out if he was having problems with the fluoridated water. She would take bottled water and heat the bottled water on the stove to give him a bath. He's about 6 foot tall. He's 230 pounds. He's 25 years of age and she's having to heat water on the stove. Why?

Because we aren't giving freedom of choice … This is ridiculous. It's insane. It's a toxic crime against humanity. We're getting too much fluoride. It's probably not beneficial. It's causing serious problems to the developing brain …  We know that it's lowering IQ. It's a tremendous expense when you start lowering IQ …

Two hundred million people in the United States are on fluoridated water. At about $1,000 per IQ at 5 IQ points lost, that's $1 trillion a year negative economic impact on our country. We can't afford it. We need to stop fluoridation," Osmunson says.

Fluoride Is a Mitochondrial Poison That Sabotages Health

Once you understand that fluoride is a mitochondrial poison, you'll realize that not only is it contributing to lowered IQ and thyroid problems, it's also contributing to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and neurodegenerative disease. We have a tsunami of Alzheimer's coming, and fluoride is an issue even though there are no studies currently connecting it to Alzheimer's. Few understand the molecular biology involved and therefore haven't made that connection yet.

In the future, that will probably come to pass, but we simply do not have the time to wait. The good news is you can do something about this problem. If you are passionate about this, as I am, then please support FAN. During Fluoride Awareness Week, I will match your donations dollar for dollar, so please, get on board and help support this important project, because it's something that will help all Americans.

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