Earlier this year, three Indiana towns opted to end fluoridation. Over in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the city council continues to work on ending the practice, following in Albuquerque’s footsteps. This November, Wichita, Kansas residents will get to vote on whether they want fluoride in their city’s water or not.
It’s especially good to keep such victories in mind in light of recent events – for September hasn’t exactly been the greatest of months for those who prefer our drinking water fluoride-free.
First, the city of Phoenix decided to continue fluoridating the city water supply, dismissing research showing its neurotoxic effects. The city council likewise showed scant concern about the lack of evidence that ingested fluoride helps prevent cavities – even though “cavity prevention” was the main public health benefit they touted on the “advice of city staff and the directors of the county and state public-health departments.”
A day later, the city council of Portland, Oregon, acted similarly in approving fluoridation, ignoring the strong show of public opposition. Predicting this outcome, those in favor of nontoxic water had already begun to organize a campaign to put fluoridation up for public vote on Portland’s May 2014 ballot.
Says fluoride expert Dr. Paul Connett, “What other drug have we ever delivered through the public water supply? None. And for obvious reasons: 1) You cannot control the dose, 2) You cannot control who gets it, and 3) It violates the individual’s right to informed consent to medicine.”
Certainly, there’s room for rational debate on how to balance personal liberty and public health measures. But that debate becomes far less rational when one side or another decides that the best way to make their case is to disregard scientific evidence that undermines their position – or spin it to their favor.
In the wake of events in Phoenix and Portland, the Fluoride Action Network – which keeps an excellent, always current library of references to fluoride and fluoridation research – distributed a press release that succinctly addresses the issues:
Newly discovered and translated published studies reveal fluoride is linked to lower IQ, even at levels added to US water supplies, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN). Further, fluoridation promoters misrepresented newly published Harvard fluoride/IQ research.
Thirty-four studies now link fluoride to reduced IQ in humans. Dozens of other studies correlate fluoride to impaired learning and memory, altered neurobehavioral function, fetal brain damage, and altered thyroid hormone levels. Full studies available at FAN’s website.
“Legislators who mandate fluoridation without carefully considering this research are doing a profound disservice to the health and welfare of their constituents,” says attorney Michael Connett of FAN.
Harvard researchers recently concluded, after reviewing 27 fluoride/IQ studies, that fluoride’s effect on children’s developing brains should be a “high research priority” especially in the US which has never investigated brain/fluoride effects.
Fluoridation activists, however, misinterpreted this research and mislead legislators in Phoenix, Portland, Wichita and elsewhere by stating the Harvard research isn’t relevant to Americans. Advocates claimed the Harvard study found only a ½ point difference in IQ, and that the fluoride levels were much higher than Americans experience.
That’s wrong. The Harvard team found that fluoride exposure was associated with a statistically significant reduction of 7 IQ points, not the ½ point claimed by advocate, Dr. Myron Allukian. The Pew Children’s Dental Campaign and other fluoridation advocates, including Allukian and Portland Mayor Sam Adams, have stated the Harvard study focused on fluoride levels of 11.5 mg/l. Only one of the studies, however, was at 11.5 mg/l.
The majority of water studies examined by the Harvard team investigated fluoride levels which the US EPA says is safe – less than 4 mg/l.
- One study, sponsored by UNICEF, found reduced IQ at just 0.88 mg/l – a level within the “optimal” fluoride range added to the drinking water of over 200 million Americans.
- Seven found reduced IQs among children drinking water with fluoride levels between 2.1 and 4 mg/l — levels that 1.4 million Americans drink everyday.
- Four found effects at levels between 1.8 and 2.0 mg/l — levels that over 200,000 Americans drink everyday.
EPA’s conventional approach to risk assessment limits chemical exposure to levels ten times less than those known to cause adverse effects. With fluoride and IQ, the levels of fluoride in water and urine are — at most — just two or three times more than the amount experienced by tens of millions of American children.
Children with iodine deficiencies are particularly harmed by fluoride. And iodine deficiency has increased significantly and now affects up to 12% of the US population.
“The question legislators should be asking themselves is ‘Do I wait until public health officials catch up with the scientific literature that now shows fluoride can cause serious neurological harm to children, or do I take my leadership role seriously and stop fluoridation immediately,” says FAN Executive Director, Paul Connett, PhD. “I think the latter is the only ethical answer.”
For more about the Harvard study and related research, see “The Facts about Fluoride & Human Intelligence.”
Also see Dr. Connett’s excellent presentation on the dangers of adding fluoride to water systems.
Image by Carol Munro, via Flickr