By Dr. Mercola
If you live in the US, where more than two-thirds of Americans receive fluoridated water, you may simply assume that it's always been that way. But this is not so. Water fluoridation began in 1945, despite the fact that fluoride is not an essential nutrient.
Quite the contrary, the fluoride added to drinking water is a toxic byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. It is a poison to your body. In 1943, even the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that fluorides are general protoplasmic poisons that change the permeability of the cell membrane by certain enzymes.1
Why is a toxic poison being intentionally added to drinking water in the name of good dentistry? Are your teeth really better off? And, more importantly, is the rest of your body?
In the video above, Michael Connett, an attorney with the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), answers these questions and summarizes 10 important facts about fluoride that everyone needs to know.2
10 Facts About Fluoride
1. Most Developed Countries Do Not Fluoridate Their Water
More people drink fluoridated water in the US alone than in the rest of the world combined. In Western Europe, for instance, 97 percent of the population drinks non-fluoridated water.2. Fluoridated Countries Do Not Have Less Tooth Decay Than Non-Fluoridated Countries
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between developed countries that fluoridate their water and those that do not.33. Fluoride Affects Many Tissues in Your Body Besides Your Teeth
The decline in tooth decay the US has experienced over the last 60 years, which is often attributed to fluoridated water, has likewise occurred in all developed countries (most of which do not fluoridate their water).
Many assume that consuming fluoride is only an issue that involves your dental health. But according to a 500-page scientific review, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels.4
There have been over 40 human studies and 100 animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage,5 including lower IQ in children, and studies have shown that fluoride toxicity can lead to a wide variety of health problems, including:
4. Fluoridation Is Not a "Natural" Process
Increased lead absorption Disrupts synthesis of collagen Hyperactivity and/or lethargy Muscle disorders Thyroid disease Arthritis Dementia 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
The fluoride added to most water supplies is not the naturally occurring variety but rather fluorosilicic acid, which is captured in air pollution control devices of the phosphate fertilizer industry. As FAN reported:5. 40% of American Teenagers Show Visible Signs of Fluoride Over-Exposure
"This captured fluoride acid is the most contaminated chemical added to public water supplies, and may impose additional risks to those presented by natural fluorides.
These risks include a possible cancer hazard from the acid's elevated arsenic content, and a possible neurotoxic hazard from the acid's ability--under some conditions--to increase the erosion of lead from old pipes."
About 40 percent of American teens have dental fluorosis,5 a condition that refers to changes in the appearance of tooth enamel that are caused by long-term ingestion of fluoride during the time teeth are forming. In some areas, fluorosis rates are as high as 70-80 percent, with some children suffering from advanced forms.6. For Infants, Fluoridated Water Provides No Benefits, Only Risks
It's likely this is a sign that children are receiving large amounts of fluoride from multiple sources, including not only drinking water but also fluoride toothpaste, processed beverages/foods, fluoride pesticides, tea, non-stick pans, and some fluorinated drugs.
So not only do we need to address the issue of water fluoridation, but how this exposure is magnified by other sources of fluoride that are now common.
It's also important to realize that dental fluorosis is NOT "just cosmetic." It can also be an indication that the rest of your body, such as your bones and internal organs, including your brain, have been overexposed to fluoride as well.
In other words, if fluoride is having a visually detrimental effect on the surface of your teeth, you can be virtually guaranteed that it's also damaging other parts of your body, such as your bones.
By keeping the levels of fluoride extremely low in mothers’ milk nature protects the newborn baby but fluoridation removes that protection. Infants who consume formula made with fluoridated tap water may consume up to 1,200 micrograms of fluoride, or about 100 times more than the recommended amounts.7. Fluoride Supplements Have Never Been Approved by the FDA
Such "spikes" of fluoride exposure during infancy provide no known advantage to teeth, but they may be harmful. Babies given fluoridated water in their formula are not only more likely to develop dental fluorosis, but may also have reduced IQ scores.
In fact, a Harvard University meta-analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that children who live in areas with highly fluoridated water have "significantly lower" IQ scores than those who live in low fluoride areas.7 The average lowering in the 27 studies reviewed was 7 IQ points.
A number of prominent dental researchers now advise that parents should not add fluoridated water to baby formula.
The fluoride supplements sometimes prescribed to those who are not drinking fluoridated water have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of tooth decay. In fact, the fluoride supplements that the FDA has reviewed have been rejected. "So with fluoridation, we are adding to the water a prescription-strength dose of a drug that has never been approved by the FDA," FAN noted.8. Fluoride Is the Only Medicine Added to Public Water
Fluoride is added to drinking water to prevent a disease (tooth decay), and as such becomes a medicine by FDA definition. While proponents claim this is no different than adding vitamin D to milk, fluoride is not an essential nutrient. Many European nations have rejected fluoride for the very reason that delivering medication via the water supply would be inappropriate. Water fluoridation is a form of mass medication that denies you the right to decide which drugs to take.9. Swallowing Fluoride Provides Little Benefit to Teeth
It is now widely recognized that fluoride's main benefit comes from topical contact with teeth, which even the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged. Adding it to water and pills, which are swallowed, offers little, if any, benefit to your teeth.10. Disadvantaged Communities Are the Most Disadvantaged by Fluoride
Fluoride toxicity is exacerbated by conditions that occur much more frequently in low-income areas. This includes:
African American and Mexican American children have significantly higher rates of dental fluorosis, and many low-income urban communities also have severe oral health crises, despite decades of water fluoridation. FAN continues:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Infant formula consumption
- Kidney disease
"The simple fact is that poor populations need dental care, not fluoridation chemicals in their water. The millions of dollars spent each year promoting fluoridation would be better spent advocating for policies that provide real dental care: like allowing dental therapists to provide affordable care to populations with little access to dentists. In short, fluoridation provides good PR for dental trade associations, but bad medicine for those it's supposedly meant to serve."It should be added that the last children in the US that need to lose any IQ points are children from low-income families, precisely the children being targeted for fluoridation. They already have so many strikes against them, they don’t need any more.
Millions at Risk of Crippling Fluorosis
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).What levels of such minerals that end up in water is a vagary of “geology” and “location” not an intervention of nature as the word ‘naturally” might imply. In fact, a far better guide as to what “nature’ thinks about fluoride is the level in mothers’ milk, which is extremely low (0.004 ppm).
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. The World Health Organization recommends fluoride levels in drinking water stay between 0.8 and 1.2 milligrams (mg) per liter, and do not exceed 1.5 mg per liter. Exposure to levels above this amount may cause pitting of tooth enamel and fluoride deposits in your bones, while exposure to levels between 2 and 10 mg per liter may cause crippling skeletal fluorosis, as well as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and muscle spasms.
It's not only naturally occurring fluoride that can lead to high levels in your water, however. In one Australian town in 2013, a suspected electrical fault allowed fluoride levels to reach nearly double the guideline amount in local drinking water. The levels may have remained elevated around 2.8 mg per liter for several days. If fluoride exposure is high enough, it can cause irreparable damage to your body. Skeletal fluorosis goes through three stages, however, 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:
The second clinical stage of skeletal fluorosis is characterized by:
- Burning, prickling, and tingling in your limbs
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic fatigue
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
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.
- 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
More Cities Abandon Water Fluoridation Due to Damaged Infrastructure
In 2014, at least 30 communities in North America and other countries providing water to nearly 10 million people (this included the whole State of Israel) decided to reject or end water fluoridation. Their reasons were many. In Amherst County, Virginia, for instance, The Service Authority Board voted to discontinue fluoridation because of conflicting opinions on what constitutes "optimal" levels of fluoride. The Wood Village City Council in Oregon decided against adding fluoride to the city's drinking water after polling residents… and finding 100 percent of them were against it. And in Buffalo Missouri, council members voted to end a decade of fluoridation, saying the additive damaged equipment and city trucks, and was not economical.
Also in 2014, councilors in Union, Missouri voted to end fluoridation after the city's public service committee recommended the city not repair fluoride injection equipment destroyed by the corrosive additive. According to the city engineer, "It's an acid and it eats the pipes. Employees are handling it and they don't want to be."7 This is just one more reason why increasing numbers of communities are opting out of water fluoridation. It's simply not cost effective for many and when you factor in the health risks, it becomes an easy decision to stop fluoridation.
For instance, in Amherst County, Virginia, FAN noted, "Several board supervisors felt that the additive was unnecessary and a waste of resources."8 Fairview and Purcell, two cities in Oklahoma, also recently joined the growing number of US communities that have stopped fluoridating their water, in these cases because of damaged infrastructure. As reported by The Oklahoman:9
"Paul Southwick, Fairview city manager, said a few years ago, a tornado damaged the city's water treatment equipment, leaving them without a way to fluoridate the water. At this point, it would be costly to replace the equipment… Dale Bunn, Purcell city manager and public works authority general manager, said they stopped fluoridating the water after an equipment failure that would be expensive to replace, probably costing tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, no one in the community seemed to be upset about the decision to stop fluoridating, he said."
Help End the Practice of Fluoridation
There's no doubt about it: fluoride should not be ingested. Even scientists from the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity." Furthermore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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?
The only real solution is to stop the archaic practice of water fluoridation in the first place. Fortunately, the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation worldwide. 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, protect your drinking water and support the fluoride-free movement by making a tax-deductible donation to the Fluoride Action Network today.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the website of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and visit the links below:
When you examine these well-documented resources you will appreciate that the constant denigration of opponents of fluoridation is both unwarranted and underlines that the continued promotion of this outdated practice has more to do with politics than science.
- Like FAN on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and sign up for campaign alerts.
- 10 Facts About Fluoride: As seen above, attorney Michael Connett summarizes 10 basic facts about fluoride that should be considered in any discussion about whether to fluoridate water. Also see 10 Facts Handout (PDF).
- 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation: Learn why fluoridation is a bad medical practice that is unnecessary and ineffective. Download PDF.
- If you have a little more time read the book co-authored by Michael’s father, retired chemistry professor Paul Connett, The Case Against Fluoride by Connett, Beck and Micklem (Chelsea Green, 2010)
- Health Effects Database: FAN's database sets forth the scientific basis for concerns regarding the safety and effectiveness of ingesting fluorides. They also have a Study Tracker with the most up-to-date and comprehensive source for studies on fluoride's effects on human health.