| Just What is Fluoride?
by Jeff Green
About Jeff Green:
Mr. Green, the volunteer director of the nonprofit Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, has been a management consultant for health providers since 1972. He created the Dentist Information Bureau, dealing with the public’s questions regarding dentistry.
Mr. Green, Spokesman for the organization Citizens for Safe Drinking Water says new studies on fluoride from the EPA's own scientists demonstrate its toxicity. Yet municipalities continue to add fluoride to the drinking water. The National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 2050, which represents all toxicologists, chemists, biologists, and other professionals at EPA headquarters in Washington D.C., voted unanimously to cosponsor the California Safe drinking Water Initiative that would reverse the State Legislature's 1995 law mandating fluoridation. This is just the beginning of a growing movement to remove fluoride additives from our drinking water
If one were to ask the average person on the street, “What is fluoride?” the answer would most likely be, “It’s that stuff they put in toothpaste to fight tooth decay.” Indeed, after decades of exposure to advertisements touting the benefits of fluoride as a super cavity fighter, the common perception of fluoride as a benign substance used primarily to reduce tooth decay has become well ingrained in the public persona.
For individuals whose only source of information is advertisements, or the advice of well-meaning professionals who are trusted to be fully informed before declaring that fluoridated drinking water presents absolutely no risk, the warnings of adverse health effects are difficult to believe or to put into perspective. The individuals who object to its use are often characterized as kooks and crackpots. But these objections become more reasonable the more one understands the true nature of fluoride.
Fluoride is the term used, and sometimes misused, by laymen and scientists to indicate a wide variety of substances containing the element fluorine. Fluorine is the most negatively charged and most chemically active of all elements on earth.
Contrary to the mythical public image, fluoride substances are prized by commercial, agricultural, pharmaceutical and military interests for their extreme corrosivity, high toxicity, ability to inhibit enzyme activity and ability to disrupt and re-configure molecular bonds. Fluoride is more toxic than lead, only slightly less toxic than arsenic, and is chemically the most active seeker of electrons which it “steals” from its neighboring molecules.
Commercially, fluoride is used to etch glass, ceramics and computer chips; refine petroleum products; make ceramic materials more porous; inhibit fermentation in breweries and wineries; polish aluminum; refine metals; and is used as a refrigerant, as a rust remover, and more. In agriculture, fluoride is the key ingredient in the world’s most widely used insecticides and pesticides. The most commonly used fumigant for termites is sulfuryl fluoride (Vikane).
Sodium fluoride is a powerful roach killer and rat poison.
In medicine, fluoride is used in most general anesthetics and in many psychotropic drugs. Prozac (fluoxetene), Phen-Fen (fenfluramine, the diet drug recently removed from the market), and Rohypnol (flunitrazepam, or “Roofies,” the date rape drug) are a few recognizable examples of fluoride-based drugs which affect chemical activity in the brain.
In the military, fluoride is used to separate uranium isotopes in the production of nuclear warheads, in rocket fuels and in certain types of nerve gas. One example is Sarin Gas (rated 1,500 times more deadly than cyanide).
Since the mid 1940s, fluoride has been added to municipal drinking water systems in approximately half of the cities in the United States for the alleged purpose of reducing tooth decay in children. However, results of peer-reviewed clinical studies and actual statistical analysis involving hundreds of thousands of people over that same 50+ year time span have caused highly respected toxicologists, biologists and medical researchers from all over the world to challenge the use of fluoride in drinking water. What they have consistently found is that fluoride ingested into the body (such as drinking fluoridated water) produces no identifiable effect on tooth decay; and that fluoride’s decay prevention effects are solely topical, such as in the use of toothpaste.
Ingested fluoride is, however, linked to health risks.
On July 2, 1997, the union that consists of and represents all of the biologists, toxicologists, chemists, engineers and attorneys at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., voted unanimously to take a stand against water fluoridation. They cited scientific evidence of fluoride’s link to increased risk of hip fracture, cancers, bone pathologies, genetic mutation, and neurological impairment, including lower IQ in children. Recent science also links fluoride to Alzheimer’s disease, kidney damage, chronic fatigue symptoms and sleep disorders.
Dental fluorosis, a permanent chalky mottling of the teeth and a window to fluoride overdose of the entire body, is on the rise, even in non-fluoridated communities.
The U.S. Public Health Service has identified pregnant women, infants, individuals with heart or kidney disease, the elderly, menopausal women, diabetics, and the malnourished as persons most susceptible to fluoride toxicity.
According to the text Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, 5th Edition, lead is given a toxicity rating between 3 and 4, and fluoride is given a rating of 4 (3 = moderately toxic, 4 = very toxic). On December 7, 1992, the new EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for lead was lowered to 0.015 parts per million with a goal of zero. The U.S. MCL for fluoride is currently set at 4.0 parts per million. That’s 266 times higher than lead! One can only speculate how a discrepancy such as this is allowed to exist.
The California EPA did not accept the MCL adopted by the U.S. EPA, and has established a maximum contaminant level of 2.0 parts per million. But leading scientists worldwide point out that both the U.S. and California EPA MCL’s are not protective of the population and do not comply with the more recent 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act that requires that contaminants be evaluated considering total exposure from all sources. This includes swallowed toothpaste and the ever-increasing foods and beverages made with fluoridated water or containing fluoride-based pesticide residue -- not just drinking water.
The most common form of fluoride used in public drinking water is hydrofluosilicic acid. It has never been tested for safety. This chemical is listed as a Class 1 hazardous waste by the California Code of Regulations. It is neither food grade nor pharmaceutical grade, but rather a waste product that comes straight from the industrial scrubbers of the phosphate fertilizer industry. If not destined for public water supplies, this toxin would have to be disposed of in the highest-rated hazardous waste facilities at an enormous expense to the producers. This very same waste product is sold at a profit to municipalities for addition to drinking water, creating a huge financial incentive to perpetuate the myth that fluoridated drinking water is somehow good for children’s teeth.
In October of 1995, despite ample evidence submitted for legislative analysis detailing the scientific research that links water fluoridation to a long list of health risks, and with NO credible evidence of decrease in tooth decay, the California State Legislature voted to fluoridate the public water systems of the entire state (AB 733).
After decades of experimentation, 98 percent of Europe is now fluoridation-free, as is Japan.
Haven’t we all heard health professionals recommend that we increase water ingestion as a step to reduce toxicity at the first sign of systemic illness or, for that matter, to drink more fluids every day? Would that recommendation still apply if our water was “adjusted” to deliver another substance intended to medicate?
Total fluoride exposure from all sources
In the early 1940’s, prior to the existence of fluoridated toothpaste or the presence of fluoride in beverages and foods, a concentration of 1 ppm (part per million) of fluorine in “optimally” fluoridated water was chosen as a method of delivering 1 mg. (milligram) of fluorine to a child who drinks 1 liter of water a day.
It was determined at that time by the proponents of fluoridation that a child ingesting 2 mg. per day was at risk of unacceptable, severe dental fluorosis. This margin of safety made no allowances for variances in the amount of water consumed or body weight, and susceptibility was suspect from the very beginning and hotly contested. However, this rate prevailed in communities that accepted fluoridation.
Dental fluorosis is a disruption of the enamel of the teeth that appears as white spots, staining and mottling, making the teeth more fracture-prone. Just as important, it is outwardly visible proof that the child has been poisoned by overdose from fluoride. The specialized cells that create the enamel are only present from prebirth until approximately 8 years of age; thus we have this unique window to how our bones and other calcium-rich tissue are affected by fluoride for only a short time.
What the proponents of fluoridation did not share with the public while lobbying for fluoridation is that, even at the “optimal” 1 mg per day, 10 percent of all children would display fluoride poisoning.
To our knowledge, no community has proceeded with fluoridation after completing an accurate study of their own community’s total current exposure to fluoride, including exposure from all foods, beverages, air, oral care products, pesticide residues and current level of water fluoridation.
The U.S. Health and Human Services (Review of Fluoride Benefits and Risks, 1991) reports that, even in nonfluoridated communities, the level of fluoride exposure ranges from 0.88 mg./day to 2.20 mg./day. In so-called “optimally” fluoridated communities, citizens are receiving up to 6 and 7 times the stated goal of 1 mg./day.
If a community is already receiving the goal of 1 mg./day from all sources, why would health-conscious professionals still be pushing for fluoridation?
Mass medication exceeds levels recommended for prescription
Fluoride drops and tablets are intended to be a controlled dosage substitute for fluoridated water and prescribed only in nonfluoridated communities. In 1995, the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics published revised supplement schedules which recommend to prescribing professionals that, in order to prevent overdose, all infants (less than 6 months) receive no additional fluoride, even in communities with absolutely no fluoride in the water. The recommended schedules never reach the level found in fluoridated water for children under 6 years of age.
Physicians, pediatricians, and dentists are not able to prescribe even a 1/4, 1/2, or 1 mg. of fluoride drops or tablets without first assessing a patient’s weight, growth and development, total exposure from all sources, and individual susceptibility.
In 1979, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered that all government documents remove all references to fluoride as an “essential nutrient” or even a “probable essential nutrient.” The FDA has never received or ever reviewed, much less approved, fluoride drops and tablets for safety or effectiveness!
Who supports mass medication with no control of dosage at a level exceeding personal physicians’ standardized limitations?
Why We Say No to Fluoridation
Don’t we have the right to choose for ourselves what foods we will eat and drink, and the medications we will accept?
If one looks beyond the health-related aspects of fluoride, it becomes evident that the true underlying concern is not about dental health, but about the appropriate use of the public drinking water. All Americans possess an inalienable right to freedom of choice, and that includes the freedom to choose what we will eat and drink for the rest of our lives. This universal freedom, upon which our nation was founded, must not be set aside. No one person should have to abandon the use of our public’s most precious resource because it has been converted into a delivery system for a substance which any individual chooses not to take into their bodies or which they must avoid for medical reasons, regardless of its alleged benefits.
Many people choose to drink alcohol, eat meat, use sugar in coffee, drink diet sodas, eat spicy foods, smoke tobacco or cigars, etc., but our individual freedom of choice precludes the majority dictating that those in the minority must do the same.
There are numerous alternatives to using the public water supply for delivering any product or substance that will not interfere with any individual’s right to choose, and still assure full public access.
Iodine was added to the water in the 1920’s to reduce goiter (enlargement of the thyroid), but was soon removed because there is no method to control the amount of water any one person drinks, or the compounding of the total amount of exposure from processing the public water.
Universal access was accomplished, with each individual’s right to choose unfettered, by adding iodine to commercially available salt. Should any person choose to ignore the warnings of adverse effects while in Europe, which is 98 percent fluoridation-free, salt can be purchased with or without iodine, or with or without fluoride.