3. Rick North’s article in ‘The Lund Report’ and comments from Karen Spenser and Roger Burt
The sheer weight of scientific evidence has far exceeded reasonable doubt, and it’s difficult to see how the EPA, or anyone else, can continue to believe that water fluoridation is safe, according to the author.
OPINION — Six weeks ago, the Fluoride Action Network, Food and Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine and several others petitioned the EPA to ban fluoridation chemicals because they’re neurotoxic – they harm the brain.
The petition cites 196 peer-reviewed studies published over the last ten years, including over 2,500 pages of supporting documents. Out of 61 human studies, 57 found that fluoride caused harm, including behavioral problems and lowered IQ in children. Out of 115 animal studies, 112 found harm. Out of 17 cellular studies and three reviews, all found harm.
These eye-opening numbers may be a revelation to most of the health and medical community, but significant evidence on fluoride’s neurotoxicity has been building for years.
The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences published Fluoride in Drinking Water, a 507-page review of over 1,000 studies that took three years to complete. Compiled by a blue-ribbon committee of 12 leading scientists, it’s considered the most comprehensive, authoritative resource ever written on the subject.
The NRC’s objectives were to assess if the maximum level of fluoride allowed in water, 4 parts per million (ppm), was safe (it determined it wasn’t) and assess fluoride’s toxicity in general, including its risk in relation to total exposure. It linked fluoride with known or possible health risks, including endocrine disruption, fluorosis, kidney and thyroid disease, diabetes and bone fractures, among others.
It was unequivocal on neurotoxicity: “it is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain . . .“ In addition to numerous animal studies, it cited five Chinese studies linking higher levels of fluoride in water with lowered IQ in children. The studies varied in quality and detail, but the NRC concluded “the consistency of the collective results warrants additional research . . .”
Following the NRC review, several scientists on the committee openly voiced their opposition to fluoridation. To quote just two, the late neurobehavioral science specialist Robert Isaacson, PhD, said “I had no fixed opinion on whether or not fluoride should be added to drinking water . . . The more I learned the more I became convinced that the addition of fluorides to drinking water was, and is, a mistake.” Hardy Limeback, DDS, PhD, both a scientist and former head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto, said “In my opinion, the evidence that fluoridation is more harmful than beneficial is now overwhelming.”
HARVARD META-ANALYSIS – 2012
This Harvard-funded meta-analysis led by Anna Choi, PhD and published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children in China exposed to higher levels of fluoride tested lower for IQ in 26 out of 27 studies. The average difference was significant – 7 IQ points lower. Potential confounding causes such as lead and arsenic were noted in some studies, but controlled for in others, and the authors determined that “it seems unlikely that fluoride-attributed neurotoxicity could be due to other water contaminants.”
The higher fluoride villages had higher concentrations of fluoride in water than in the U.S., where artificial fluoridation is typically 0.7 ppm. Nine, however, had concentrations lower than 3 ppm and one high fluoride village had only 0.88 ppm.
The Harvard meta-analysis was further reinforced by a study published in The Lancet by Philippe Grandjean, MD and Philip Landrigan, MD. In 2006, their first review identified six chemicals as known developmental neurotoxins (harming the brains of children), including lead, arsenic and PCB’s. Their 2014 study named six more. Fluoride was one of them. These chemicals are especially dangerous because they can cause brain damage that is often untreatable and permanent, including behavioral problems and lower IQ.
The authors are world-renowned. Grandjean is a Harvard professor of environmental health, head of environmental medicine research at the University of Southern Denmark and toxicology advisor to the Danish National Board of Health. Landrigan is a professor at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and previously worked for the Centers for Disease Control and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of the US Public Health Service.
THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST
In the face of this compelling and continuously growing body of evidence, promoters still argue that fluoridating water is safe for everyone. This ignores three indisputable facts. First, standard toxicology (and the EPA’s own guidelines) requires consideration of individual variability by taking the lowest dose or level showing harm and dividing it by at least 10 to determine a safety level protecting more vulnerable subgroups in a population. This lowers the bar far below current fluoridation practices.
Dose is the second factor, because toxin levels are only half the equation determining risk. Children, for instance, typically consume more water per pound of body weight than adults. The EPA petition documented that some children drinking just two liters of 0.7 ppm fluoridated water a day were at risk of significantly lowered IQ. Other subpopulations, like kidney disease and diabetic patients, athletes and manual laborers also drink higher amounts of water, increasing their health risks.
Third, apologists ignore other sources of fluoride, including children’s all-too-familiar swallowing of fluoridated toothpaste. Environmental exposure is common, such as in pesticide residues and air pollution. Intel, for example, was fined $143,000 in 2014 for illegal fluoride emissions in Hillsboro, and industrial discharges of fluoride, even when legal, are widespread throughout the country. Finally, anything made with fluoridated water, such as soft drinks, baby formula and processed food, can add significantly to our toxic load.
Whatever phrase is used, “First do no harm,” “Better safe than sorry,” “The Precautionary Principle,” etc., most would agree that if there’s reasonable doubt if a substance is safe, the public shouldn’t be intentionally exposed to it.
Considering all the recent neurotoxicity studies – not to mention fluoride’s other NRC- identified health risks – the sheer weight of scientific evidence has far exceeded reasonable doubt. It’s difficult to see how the EPA, or anyone else, can continue to believe that water fluoridation is safe.
Rick North is a retired executive for several non-profits. He’s the former executive vice president (CEO) of the Oregon American Cancer Society and former project director for the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If teeth are the only reason why you like fluoride, you better come up with a different reason. Fluoride hurts teeth, bones, brain, nerves, etc.” – Michael Taras, DMD, FAGD (2015)
I suggest that the bibliography on pro-fluoridation advocacy group websites not only is not reflective of the body of work, but also is generally not representative of valid studies. Nor will it reflect the topic of this piece, specific evidence of neurotoxic effects and government regulations regarding proper action based on such evidence.
Sixteen Recent Science items:
1) 2015 in Toxicology in Vitro. Fluoride as a factor initiating and potentiating inflammation in THP1 differentiated monocytes/macrophages (Inflames cells in immune system) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887233315001605
2) 2015 in Nature. Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels. (Brain has an immune system subject to inflammation) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26030524
3) 2016 in Scand J Gastroenterology. Fluoride: a risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease? (Chronic exposure bad for bowel): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27199224
4) 2016 in Chemosphere: Chronic fluoride exposure-induced testicular toxicity is associated with inflammatory response in mice (fluoride is an inflammatory drug and that inflammatory property can affect sperm): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653516303514
5) 2015 Cochrane Review featured in Newsweek. (Concurred with 2000 York review of dental fluoridation literature that the studies purporting benefit were biased with conclusions not supported by their limited evidence and provided no evidence of safety) http://www.newsweek.com/fluoridation-may-not-prevent-cavities-huge-study…
6) 2016 in Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry (all reviews agree, fluoridation does not prevent cavities) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5149099/
7) 2015 in International Journal of Environmental & Occupational Health. A critique of recent economic evaluations of community water fluoridation (Fluoridation is not cost effective dental prophylactic, i.e. errors and omissions) : http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1179/2049396714Y.0000000093
8) 2015 in Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England….. (Fluoridated communities have significantly higher rates of low thyroid) http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/09/jech-2014-204971
9) 2015 in Toxicological Sciences. Modifying Effect of COMT Gene Polymorphism and a Predictive Role for Proteomics Analysis…. (Gene predicts individuals sensitive to fluoride poisoning at lower concentrations in water which manifest as dental fluorosis and learning deficits) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25556215
10) 2015 in Environmental Health. Exposure to fluoridated water and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder prevalence among children and adolescents in US….. (even adjusted for SES in 84 regions of US, fluoridated communities have much higher incidences diagnosed of hyperactivity) http://www.ehjournal.net/content/14/1/17/abstract
11) 2014 in Toxicology. Effect of water fluoridation on the development of medial vascular calcification in uremic rats. (“Optimal levels” worsen kidney function): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24561004
12) 2015 in Neurotoxicology and Teratology. Association of lifetime exposure to fluoride and cognitive functions in Chinese children: A pilot study. (Children with visible dental fluorosis perform less well on memory tasks, correlating with the degree of severity of their fluorosis. One of a series of human and animal studies with the same consistent findings.): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25446012 and http://braindrain.dk/2014/12/mottled-fluoride-debate/
13) 2014 in Physiology and Behavior. Fluoride exposure during brain development affects both cognition and emotion in mice. (Measurable behavioral changes, one of many with same consistent findings): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24184405
14) 2014 in International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. A new perspective on metals and other contaminants in fluoridation chemicals. (All samples of fluoride are contaminated with aluminum, plus other contaminants like arsenic, lead and barium); http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24999851
15) 2014 in Scientific World Journal. Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention. (A report published in an open access journal, very well written by reputable scientists who cite solid peer-reviewed science. Concludes, health risks and cost don’t justify minimal and questionable dental benefit.) http://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/293019/
16) 2016 in Journal of Risk Research. Communicating risk for issues that involve ‘uncertainty bias’ (A social science piece on the misrepresentation of scientific and historical fact by fluoridationists and politicians in order to establish fluoridation mandates) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305985332
Early in the 1970s I voted for water fluoridation in Marin County California based on my perusal of the voters’ pamphlet list of fluoridation endorsing organizations and the absence of convincing evidence from fluoridation opponents.
After relocating to Portland, I again encountered a fluoridation vote in 1978. This time, I suspected there may be something to the controversy, and I reviewed the primary evidence in the medical and dental school libraries. I was shocked to learn that (even back then) peer-reviewed evidence did not support fluoridation, and consequently, I have been involved in the debate ever since.
If you haven’t reviewed the actual evidence, I suggest starting with the 2006 report, Fluoride in Drinking Water, from the blue ribbon reviewing panel of the National Research Council, available free online (read only). The NRC panel found concerning evidence connecting fluoride to adverse effects on the brain, thyroid, bone fractures, bone cancer, dental fluorosis, bone fluorosis, endocrine system, kidney, pineal gland, and diabetes. The panel charged the US EPA with reducing allowable fluoride in drinking water due to the peer reviewed evidence of the adverse effects of fluoride.
Because the EPA had not yet acted on this public health need in over ten years, a petition was recently submitted to force them to proceed, as Rick North so clearly presented.
Since 2006 there has been an avalanche of more and stronger evidence of adverse effects (IQ loss of seven IQ points, ADHD increases, thyroid damage, bone cancer, etc).
In addition, it is now known that fluoride can be effective in tooth decay reduction when used topically (toothpaste, mouthwash, dental treatments); but it is not effective when swallowed (tablets and water fluoridation).
Any party who continues to claim that fluoridation is ‘proven safe and effective’ in the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary is only revealing that they have not seen the peer reviewed evidence, or worse, they have seen it and are ignoring it for reasons of personal gain. At least one of responders above has a well paying job that depends on promotion water fluoridation.
I can assure you that none of the opponents of fluoridation personally gains anything financial from it. Actually, Rick North, I and other fluoridation opponents often contribute considerably of our own time and personal resources to the advocacy based on rigorous and correctly interpreted science.
I call for full disclosure of personal gain from those advocating for fluoridation before we accept their views as valid.
Roger Burt, MS