Water Fluoridation: Folly or Fraud?
By David McRae, B.Sc. (Hons)
Every day of the week, most Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, and Irish are exposed to an influence that can be a cause of serious health problems: the addition of chemical fluoride to our drinking water.
What do you know about the history, politics, and toxicology of this claimed "dental benefit"?
The USA started fluoridation in the 1940s, followed by a handful of other countries in the 50s and 60s. Only about eight countries keep up the practice. The continental European countries that tried it in the past have all discontinued. And many of them have achieved lower rates of tooth decay than the highly fluoridated USA.
Holland quit fluoridation in the 1970s after a large medical team performed a double-blind test on people who reported that the fluoride was making them sick. This study showed that up to 3% of residents in the fluoridated section of Amsterdam were suffering symptoms such as stomach pains, mouth ulcers, skin irritation, migraine-like headaches, worsening of allergic complaints, and joint pains. The symptoms stopped when they switched to non-fluoride water. Along with these acute reactions, there are serious concerns about the long-term health effects of fluoride exposure.
Everything about fluoridation is bizarre, including the two very different stories about its origin. There is the official story - given by some health departments and dental associations. And there is the story based on sources such as (1) archival records of the industrial interests that played a big part in funding the fluoridation project, and (2) dissident (see Word to the Wise, below) authorities and scientists who have taken a critical look at the science.
According to the fluoride-promoting agencies, in the 1930s researchers observed lower rates of tooth decay in regions where people showed "Colorado Brown Stain" on their teeth. When this defect was identified to be fluoride poisoning from the water, it was claimed that a certain level of fluoride was actually good. It could protect teeth without causing too much of the staining and brittleness known as dental fluorosis. Officialdom has ignored that these early studies were very poor quality and non-scientific. They also ignored that the dose to consumers would be uncontrolled and vary dramatically with how much water people drank.
But there is a darker history of fluoridation that has been spoken about by industry insiders and some dentists for decades. In 2004, award-winning journalist Christopher Bryson shined a light on the history of fluoridation in his meticulously researched book The Fluoride Deception. Bryson's book studies the correspondence and meeting reports from industry and laboratory archives and shows a chilling collaboration between polluting industries and certain maverick scientists.
Aluminium smelting and many other wartime and post-war boom industries used massive amounts of fluoride in their processes. In the unregulated 1940s, fluoride waste products were polluting the atmosphere and building up in huge waste piles. The fledgling environmental watchdogs of the day were crying out about serious fluoride damage to workers and surrounding crops and animals. A number of lawsuits were launched against companies, including Alcoa and Reynolds Metals.
The archival material shows great concern among the industrialists and their attorneys and scientists. Rather than cease production or find fluoride-free technologies, a systematic project was commenced to whitewash the emerging evidence of fluoride's health hazards. Fluoride was too important to industry to bow to health and environmental pressures.
The theory that fluoride might be a dental-health treatment, in water supplies or toothpaste, was a trump card for this conglomerate. Industry contributed enormous funds to dental researchers to show fluoride to be a "wonder dental drug." Researchers showing findings detrimental to fluoride's new image mysteriously lost their funding. When toothpaste manufacturers jumped on the fluoride wagon, a virtually unlimited advertising budget was unleashed to complete the transformation of fluoride from pollutant to panacea.
In the 1950s and 60s, sodium fluoride from the aluminium industry was added to the water supplies. In a sinister twist of logic, Alcoa advertised their fluoride in water industry journals for it to be added to water supplies … while simultaneously advertising in chemical journals for its use as a rat poison.
The chemicals most widely used in fluoridation now are two waste products of the phosphate fertilizer industry, hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium silicofluoride. These chemicals have never undergone safety studies, nor have they ever had FDA approval. However, numerous studies have shown them to cause harm.
Furthermore, a dozen studies have shown higher rates of bone fracture in fluoridated areas. Many regions of Asia have both high and moderate levels of calcium fluoride present in water supplies. Though calcium fluoride is considered less harmful than the industrial fluorides we use, they still result in dreadful epidemics of skeletal fluorosis and nervous system illness. India spends a lot of money on defluoridation, and where it can't be afforded people develop crippling bone deformities. Chinese scientists have shown nervous system defects including significantly lowered average IQs, even with moderate fluoride levels in water.
The latest alarming finding is Harvard researcher Elise Bassin's Ph.D. study showing greatly increased bone cancer rates among boys in the USA consuming fluoridated water during their years of growth. Bassin's supervisor, Professor Chester Douglass, is now under investigation by Harvard for suppressing and stopping publication of her work. He has also denied her findings at conferences. However, Douglass has a considerable conflict of interests. He also works for the toothpaste manufacturer Colgate, which reaps huge profits from the public's believing that fluoride is a "healthy" chemical.
The science-based website www.fluorideaction.net links to a large compilation of peer-reviewed medical literature. These studies show links between fluoride exposure and kidney disease; pineal, thyroid, and reproductive gland problems; arthritis; and bone, tooth, and nervous system disorders.
Reviews of the science also show that water fluoridation may not even prevent tooth decay. There are more studies showing zero or negligible reductions in tooth decay than those showing real benefits. And most researchers agree that any benefits from fluoride are from surface application to the teeth, NOT from ingesting it into the system. Thus drinking fluoride in water is as dumb as eating sunscreen to prevent sunburn or swallowing condoms for safe sex!
The current science on fluoridation suggests that we are exposing children and adults to a great health risk … for an imagined or real benefit to less than 1 child in 10. Fluoridation is looking like one of the great medical follies of the 20th century. If even half of Bryson's book is correct, it is more than a folly … it is fraud.
Enforced medication without consumer consent, even if there were no side effects, is highly unethical. Fluoridation is compulsory mass-medication, at uncontrolled dosage, with toxic, industrial waste.
In August of this year, 11 Environmental Protection Agency unions, representing over 7,000 environmental and public health professionals, called for a moratorium on drinking water fluoridation and asked the EPA to recognize fluoride as posing a serious risk of causing cancer. If you would like to read the text of this petition, or to sign it yourself, visit www.fluorideaction.net and click Take Action.
[ Ed. Note: From 1985 to 1996, David McRae worked with and coordinated holistic cancer support and education programs in Australia, including a government-funded project with the North East doctors association in Melbourne. He now works as a health promotion officer in community health in Geelong, Australia.