Opinion: Water Fluoridation Is An Emperor Without Clothes

Putting fluoride – a known neurotoxin – in the water is unconscionable.

Putting a drug – any drug – in drinking water is absurd. Putting fluoride – a known neurotoxin – in the water is unconscionable.

Yet the U.S. government has endorsed water fluoridation since 1950. Many organizations in the medical establishment, led by the American Dental Association, American Medical Association and American Public Health Association, quickly jumped on the bandwagon, before any long-term health studies were done.

They’ve never climbed off, denying the wealth of research demonstrating fluoride’s harmful effects, including recent strong evidence it can lower IQ’s in children. Indeed, in 2006, the National Research Council asserted “It is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and body. In the following decade, 189 out of 196 peer-reviewed studies – human, animal, and cellular - found fluoride to be neurotoxic.  

My Stedman’s Medical Dictionary defines a drug as “a substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease” or “such a substance as recognized or defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

Melinda Plaisier, the FDA associate commissioner for legislation, stated in an official letter to the U.S. House of Representatives “Fluoride, when used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or animal, is a drug that is subject to FDA regulation.”

Fluoride is used to prevent cavities. Consequently, the FDA regulates it, requiring a prescription for fluoride tablets and a label on fluoridated toothpaste that says, for children under 6, “If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”

But once fluoride is added to public water supplies, the FDA no longer takes responsibility for it as a drug. If you’re looking for logic or consistency, look elsewhere.

Instead, it’s regulated by the EPA as a contaminant, which it certainly is. It’s highly toxic in its own right, and the chemical typically used, fluorosilicic acid (FSA), can be contaminated with lead, arsenic and heavy metals. If FSA isn’t used for fluoridation, it must be disposed of as a hazardous waste. (I’m not making this up.) Again, if you’re looking for logic . . .

When you go to a doctor's office there are standard safety protocols for his/her recommending a drug. It is prescribed for you only, based on your personal medical history. It’s a specific dose and prescribed for a specific period of time. The doctor must tell you its potential harmful side effects. But it’s still up to you - the patient - to decide if you’ll take the drug or not.

When you add fluoride to the water, every one of these protocols is violated. This is both absurd and unethical. It takes away your right of informed consent.

It is one main reason that many European countries have banned fluoridation. And for those that don’t have a nationwide ban, it’s a major reason that the vast majority of their cities and towns either decided they don’t want it or simply consider it a non-issue. Out of 48 European nations, only five have any fluoridated cities. Over 98% of Europeans drink unfluoridated water.

European health officials’ statements make it clear:

  • Netherlands: “The addition of chemicals to drinking water is prohibited by law in the Netherlands. This law came into effect because it was widely perceived that drinking water should not be used as a vehicle for pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, fluoridation of drinking water would conflict with the freedom to choose for natural drinking water.”
  • Belgium: “This water treatment has never been of use . . . The main reason . . . is the fundamental position of the drinking water sector that it is not its task to deliver medicinal treatment to people.”
  • France: “Fluoride chemicals are not included in the list (of ‘chemicals for drinking water treatment).' This is due to ethical as well as medical considerations.”
  • Germany: “The Federal Ministry of Health cites 'the problematic nature of (compulsory) medication' in not fluoridating.”
  • Czech Republic: “(Fluoridation) is not under consideration because this form of supplementation is considered uneconomical, unecological, unethical - forced medication.”

Adding fluoride to water to prevent cavities is as nonsensical as putting statins in water to lower cholesterol, Prozac to treat depression, or even aspirin to relieve headaches. Prescribing drugs isn’t one-size-fits-all. Virtually any can have harmful side effects, especially to vulnerable sub-populations like children, pregnant women and those who are medically fragile.

There is no other drug allowed in U.S. water supplies.

It is sheer absurdity that we’re still allowing this one.

Rick North is the former executive vice president of the Oregon American Cancer Society and former project director for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Campaign for Safe Food. He can be reached at hrnorth@hevanet.com.

Comments

Thank You Rick! Fluoride is an outdated practice with misinformed dentists promoting it who would never force their patients in their office to fluoride treatments if the patient requested to not have them yet they think people like us should be forced to ingest fluoride through our water supply.

Rick North – According to your “logic” –– Putting a poison – any poison – in drinking water is absurd. To illustrate your “reasoning” a similar practice can be described as: Putting chlorine – a known chemical weapon that creates a toxic brew of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) – in water is unconscionable. And, unlike fluoride ions, which strengthen tooth enamel (reducing the risk of decay), there are no beneficial health effects to ingesting DBPs at any level.

The arbitrary labeling of community water fluoridation (CWF) as a drug is one of the many distractions and deceptions employed by fluoridation opponents (FOs). Since CWF, like community water chlorination, is effective, and the benefits far outweigh any risks, most rational individuals would not care whether the substances added were called poisons or medicines or additives or water treatment chemicals.

The FDA actually regulates fluoridated bottled water as a “Food For Human Consumption”, not a drug. Apparently it does not matter to FOs that the levels of residual disinfectants, DBPs, fluoride ions and other potentially harmful chemicals are regulated to be within safe levels. Also, consider the fact that, according to the FDA, “If a supplement contains iodine [which is also a poison at high exposure levels], the Supplement Facts label must list iodine as a nutrient ingredient” – not a medicine.

FOs invent irrelevant distractions (like your “FSA“ and “dose” diversions) to obscure the fact they have no legitimate evidence to support their opinions. The scientific facts on “FSA” are; fluoride ions are identical regardless of source, FSA contaminant levels are carefully regulated (and typically not measurable in treated water) and all water treatment chemicals are toxic and hazardous when concentrated. The facts about “dose” are; no doctor is responsible for monitoring the dose of DBPs or instructing you on their potential harmful side effects based on your personal medical history. The dose of fluoride ions, like the dose of DBPs and other chemicals in public drinking water, is controlled by the amount of water it is possible to drink – ingesting harmful “doses” of fluoride ions or DBPs (or other regulated chemicals) would require drinking toxic amounts of H2O.

These and other extraneous distractions are designed to focus the attention of their target audience – conscientious members of the public – away from the fact that there has been no “wealth of research demonstrating fluoride’s [alleged] harmful effects” in over 70 years that has been sufficient to change the scientific consensus that CWF is a beneficial and safe public health measure (like all water treatment processes) to reduce the risk of tooth decay (and related health issues) in communities.

Rational, caring individuals are concerned with an impartial evaluation of overall benefits vs. risks of public health measures by relevant experts, not on arbitrary definitions and conclusions fabricated by anti-science activists (anti-fluoridation, anti-chlorination, anti-vaccination, anti-evolutionist, anti-climate change, etc.) with specific agendas that are completely contrary to the relevant accepted scientific consensus.

Can you provided a logical explanation of why, if FOs actually have any legitimate scientific evidence to support their claims of obvious and serious harm, the scientific consensus that fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure has not changed in over 70 years?

By scientific consensus, I mean that the majority of relevant experts in a given scientific field agree on the interpretation of the available body of evidence. This consensus is the reason the public health benefits of CWF are publicly recognized by the U.S. CDC, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and over 100 more of the most highly respected healthcare and healthcare-related organizations in the world.
~> Search on “ada fluoridation facts compendium” and “I like my teeth – what do water fluoridation supporters say?

The fact that the hundreds of thousands of members representing those science and health organizations have not rebelled over the last 70+ years as those organizations continue to publically recognize the benefits of CWF (as new evidence continues to accumulate) is a clear example of a scientific consensus. When legitimate, compelling evidence that supports different interpretations of the evidence is presented, the consensus changes – that is how science and health care have continued to evolve over the last few hundred years.

In contrast, I have recently seen a list of about 13 alternative health, environmental, spiritual and cultural organizations posted by FOs that oppose CWF. That is a clear demonstration of the fact that there are always minority, outlier opinions whose proponents have been unsuccessful at providing credible scientific evidence to change the majority consensus.

What is your perspective on the scientific consensus and the fact that virtually no reputable science or health organization supports the anti-F opinions?

Do you agree with how two FOs recently described organizations that support CWF?
FO1: "CDC references the ADA and AAP, and the ADA and AAP reference each other and the CDC. Circular referencing." and "the credibility of those so called 'scientific' organizations has been seriously tarnished. They do not protect the public. They are lemmings, followers, part of a herd, not scientists.

FO2:Willful blindness and financial benefit affect both organizations [ADA and EPA] and individuals and are eminently rational rationales for refusal to change, although also morally corrupt” and ”vested interests are doing their part to protect a profitable program that causes misery to millions” and ”Agnotology: Culturally induced ignorance or willful blindness, particularly the promotion of misleading scientific data and anecdotes by a biased group” and “I have it on good authority that they [American Thyroid Association] don't want to provoke a political storm with other groups - cowards.”
Fact: The ATA was bullied into modifying its position on CWF by the threat of a lawsuit, “In closing, given the fluoridation lawsuit pending in Peel, Ontario [and] other anticipated American lawsuits yet to be filed, we suggest that the ATA leadership and directors should be prepared to demonstrate their scientific integrity and professional ethics.”

The 2015 Cochrane Fluoride Review, for example, concluded that studies (which met their inclusion criteria) that were performed before the widespread introduction of fluoridated toothpaste, dental fluoride treatments, etc., “…found that water fluoridation is effective at reducing levels of tooth decay among children. The introduction of water fluoridation resulted in children having 35% fewer decayed, missing and filled baby teeth and 26% fewer decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth. We also found that fluoridation led to a 15% increase in children with no decay in their baby teeth and a 14% increase in children with no decay in their permanent teeth.” The review also listed no health concerns from drinking optimally fluoridated water.

The 2006 NRC Fluoride Review committee (which included at least three dedicated FOs) “was asked to evaluate independently the scientific basis of EPA’s MCLG of 4 mg/L and SMCL of 2 mg/L in drinking water and the adequacy of those guidelines to protect children and others from adverse health effects”. The review listed absolutely no harmful health-related finding or recommendation for water containing fluoride ions at the SMCL of 2.0 mg/l – three times the optimal level for CWF.  Provide the exact citation in the 2006 NRC review that concluded CWF had “the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and body” and required an adjustment of the SMCL.

How do you explain the conclusions of these additional references?
Since 2000, there have been a number of scientific reviews that have concluded that CWF reduces dental decay, and none of these reviews reported any health risks from drinking optimally fluoridated water, only an increased risk of very mild to mild dental fluorosis. They include:
the 2018 Water Fluoridation and Dental Caries in U.S. Children and Adolescents review;
the 2018 Water Fluoridation Health Monitoring Report for England;
the 2018 Food Safety Authority of Ireland Fluoride Report;
the 2017 Swedish report, Effects of Fluoride in the Drinking Water;
the 2016 World Health Organization report: Fluoride and Oral Health;
the 2016 Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council Fluoridation Report;
the 2015 Manual of Dental Practices, Council of European Dentists;
the 2015 U.S. Public Health Service Recommendation for Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water for the Prevention of Dental Caries;
the 2015 Cochrane Water Fluoridation Review (as referenced above);
the 2014 Royal Society of New Zealand, Health effects of water fluoridation: A review of the scientific evidence;
the 2013 Congressional Research Service, Fluoride in Drinking Water Review;
the 2006 NRC Fluoride Review (as referenced above);
the 2000 York Water Fluoridation Review;
the 2000 Community Preventive Services Task Force, Preventing Dental Caries: Community Water Fluoridation;
and the 2018 National Toxicity Program fluoride study found no evidence of harm.

Unfortunately, the writer’s conflating remarks confuse, rather than clarify, the issue. For instance, chlorine is a water treatment necessary to kill bacteria so we don’t get sick. The use of fluoride is a drug to prevent cavities. It’s not necessary and no one gets sick if we don’t use it. Moreover, its effects are mainly topical, as even the CDC acknowledges. No one needs to swallow it and increase their health risks.

Another is conflating fluoride with nutrients such as iodine (or vitamin D, calcium, etc.). The medical dictionary defines a nutrient as “a constituent of food necessary for normal physiologic function.” Fluoride isn’t necessary and therefore not a nutrient. Numerous federal agencies actually agree on this (http://fluoridealert.org/studies/essential-nutrient/). You won’t see it as part of a multi-vitamin or on the shelf at your local GNC.

The writer is fond of listing organizations that support fluoridation. There’s a much longer list – nations whose health ministries disagree and either ban it or leave the decision to their cities and towns, almost all of which have decided not to fluoridate or simply dismiss it as a non-issue. Out of 196 nations, only 24 fluoridate at all, and only 10 for more than half their populations, like the U.S. Approximately 95% of the world’s population doesn’t drink fluoridated water. The U.S. fluoridates as many people as the rest of the world put together.

Regarding the most-used fluoridation chemical, fluorosilicic acid (FSA), the most obvious health risk is fluoride itself, a neurotoxin the EPA correctly identifies as a contaminant. There are three additional items to note, all of them a matter of public record: 1) FSA must be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility if not used for fluoridation; 2) FSA can contain lead and arsenic; 3) the EPA has determined there are no safe levels of lead and arsenic. Maybe the writer and other fluoridationists can make sense out of this. I can’t.

And the disturbing cherry-picking continues. Take the 2015 Cochrane Review, for example. The writer quotes old studies on cavity reduction rates. Here are some quotes he didn’t include: “The available data came predominantly from studies conducted prior to 1975 . . . over 97% of the 155 studies were at a high risk of bias, which reduces the overall quality of the results . . . We didn’t identify any evidence to determine the effectiveness of water fluoridation for preventing caries in adults . . There is insufficient evidence to determine whether water fluoridation results in a change in disparities in caries levels across socio-economic status.”

He also said “The (Cochrane) review also listed no health concerns from drinking optimally fluoridated water.” What he’s not saying is that the review was limited to studying two issues: effectiveness and dental fluorosis, which at moderate and severe levels can damage teeth. Its conclusion was “There is a significant association between dental fluorosis (of aesthetic concern or all levels of dental fluorosis) and fluoride level.” Indeed, as fluoridation rates have increased in the U.S. fluorosis rates – at all levels - have also increased. This is hardly a coincidence. (Readers can decide for themselves on the legitimacy of the Cochrane Review appearing on his list of organizations supporting fluoridation.)

Perhaps the most serious mischaracterization is listing the 2006 NRC Report as not reporting any health risks from fluoridated water. Take a closer look. The committee wasn’t even charged with identifying health risks of fluoridated water (p. 11). On the other hand, it was charged to “identify data gaps and to make recommendations for future research” (p. 2).

What an eye-opener this report is (https://www.nap.edu/catalog/11571/fluoride-in-drinking-water-a-scientifi...). The balanced, blue-ribbon committee of 12 scientists, which included several fluoridation supporters, stated that existing science was lacking and more research was needed for fluoride’s connection to, among others, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and brain damage, including lower IQ’s. Statements included “It is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and the body” (p. 222), “Fluoride is therefore an endocrine disruptor” (p. 266), “The chief endocrine effects of fluoride include decreased thyroid function” (p. 8) and “The effects of low doses of fluoride on kidney functions in humans needs to be carefully documented’ (p. 303).

Please understand the significance of this. While the U.S. government and numerous medical associations jumping on the bandwagon were insisting fluoridation was safe since the early 1950’s – before any long-term health studies had been done (and none at all on neurotoxicity) – the most comprehensive, authoritative review of the science 50 years later determined that we didn’t fully understand fluoride’s effects on numerous harmful health conditions. (Readers can also decide for themselves if the NRC review belongs on his list of organizations supporting fluoridation.)

The scientific assertion that more research is needed and the writer’s assertion that fluoridation is proven safe for everyone flatly contradict each other.

NRC committee member Robert Isaacson, PhD, now deceased, summed it up best (including my own assessment of fluoridation, which changed to opposition after I reviewed the NRC report): “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.”

Rick North – The bottom line is that studies conducted for over 70 years have clearly demonstrated community water fluoridation (CWF) to be a safe and effective public health measure for reducing dental decay and related health issues in communities – as clearly demonstrated by the references provided in my earlier comment.

All fluoridation opponents (FOs) and anti-science activists (ASAs) face the same challenge. There is no legitimate scientific evidence to support their specific biased beliefs, so they are completely unable to change the consensus of relevant scientists and/or health professionals. Consequently, the only option they have is to employ a variety of disingenuous tactics to try and persuade sympathetic and caring members of the public, who don’t have the training and experience to personally evaluate and understand the thousands of studies conducted over the past 70+ years, that the conclusions of the majority of scientists and health experts are wrong.

FOs and other ASAs can frequently get away with their disingenuous deceptions because they don't have to present legitimate or accurate arguments - all they have to do is present a compelling story, frequently enhanced with a strong dose of fear-mongering, and convince enough citizens to trust in them, accept their anti-science beliefs, and aggressively petition and pressure those responsible for fluoridation (like city council members, many of whom also have no science or health training/experience) to abandon the beneficial public health measure.

The strategies of ASAs remind me of the ‘wizard’ behind the drapes frantically trying to divert attention from reality by fabricating an illusion of chaos and shouting “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”. Another strategy is highlighted by the scene in Jungle Book where Kaa claims “I'm not like those so-called fair-weather friends of yours. You can believe in me” then places Mowgli in a trance and instructs him to “Trust in me” in preparation to eating him. Substitute ‘mainstream scientists and health care providers’ for ‘fair-weather friends’ and you will have an excellent description of the deceptive tactics of ASAs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWyCCJ6B2WE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZY8jUuEzJQ

This article explains the tactics of a well-known anti-science activist, “Mercola’s emphasis on rejecting accepted wisdom in favor of questionable guidance is at the heart of his danger; he conditions his fans not to think freely but to swap trust in experts for trust in only him

https://www.theringer.com/2017/1/5/16041098/dr-joseph-mercola-natural-he....

Thank you for providing so many great examples of the “Trust in me” and “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” duplicitous, diversionary tactics employed by FOs. I appreciate your specific examples of how FOs and ASAs manipulate reality to disguise the facts that they have no legitimate scientific evidence to support their opinions. They do, however, have unqualified support from organizations like INFOWARS (Alex Jones) "I grew up in Dallas, Texas, drinking sodium fluoridated water. All the scientific studies show my IQ has been reduced by at least 20 points.", Natural News (Mike Adams) and a handful of alternative health, environmental, spiritual and cultural organizations frequently listed as opposing CWF?

This is a list of four deceitful tactics you employed in your reply to my original criticism of your opinion piece:
Tactic 1) Define and interpret reality to fit your specific biases and ignore the consensus.
Tactic 2) Fabricate alleged authorities [political decisions of other countries] to hide the overwhelming, and quite embarrassing, lack of support from all actual respected science and health organizations in the world.
Tactic 3) The use of carefully selected and edited content from legitimate studies and reviews to claim they reached conclusions that were actually completely different and opposite than the claims made by ASAs.
Tactic 4) Bait and Switch - Disingenuous and improper use of accurate statements out of context to try and support a false claim.

Specific examples:

Tactic 1) All ASAs define and interpret reality to fit their specific biases – when it is convenient, fluoride ions are labeled a poison that will allegedly cause a host of devastating health problems – when it is convenient, fluoride ions are categorized a drug and community water fluoridation (CWF) can conveniently be labeled as mass medication. Virtually every substance is a poison at high enough exposure levels – even water. Earlier you presented a definition of “drug” as “a substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease”.

According to your “logic”, water could be defined as a substance used in the prevention of a disease, and could therefore, by the “logic” of FOs, be considered mass medication. Word and definition philosophical games are played ad nauseam by FOs and other brands of anti-science activists (ASAs) to confuse the issues. Please provide specific evidence that any court of law, regulatory agency or science/health organization has defined a glass of optimally fluoridated water as either a drug or a poison. The fact that FOs are apparently unable to tell the difference between a tube of fluoridated toothpaste that contains about 1,500 ppm fluoride ions (regulated by the FDA as an over the counter drug) and a glass of fluoridated bottled water that contains about 0.7 ppm fluoride ions (and is regulated by the FDA as a “Food For Human Consumption”) is remarkable.

The critical point FOs ignore (or try and disguise with disingenuous word-play) is that all water treatment processes are implemented to protect the health of citizens who drink the water. Any rational and caring individual would not care how an effective water treatment method worked to reduce the risk of diseases and harm in communities (killing pathogens, reducing enamel erosion, reducing delivery pipe erosion, reducing the level of contaminants, etc. All chemicals added or created during treatment are regulated to be within safe levels.

Similarly, your definition of FSA as hazardous waste that can contain lead and arsenic and that “fluoride itself, a neurotoxin” is nothing more than irresponsible fear-mongering to try and scare the public. Your statements are only relevant if they are truthful and accurate in the context of CWF – not in the fear-mongering fantasy world of ASAs. In fact:
~> CWF is effective and safe, so it is irrelevant whether FSA is labeled a waste product or a water treatment chemical, any more than the disinfectant chlorine can be labeled a chemical weapon or a water treatment chemical.
~> Virtually all public water contains traces of arsenic, lead and other contaminants. The added levels from FSA are below the detection level unless added at 10 times the normal level.
~> Your statement that fluoride is a neurotoxin simply underscores the fact that you either don’t understand the concept that any substance is a poison at high enough exposure levels, or that you stoop to distorting the facts to scare the public.

You didn’t explain why, if the anti-F propaganda is even remotely legitimate:
(1) over 100 national and international science and health organizations (and their hundreds of thousands of members) continue to recognize the benefits of fluoridation,
(2) why there are no recognized science/health organizations that recognize the anti-F opinions as legitimate
(3) why fluoridation opponents must distort the evidence to try and scare and scam the public into believing their propaganda is true. Those seem like legitimate and important questions for anyone who believes they have sufficient evidence to change the consensus of experts.
~> http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/why-fluoride/
~> http://ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and...

You never explained whether you agree with the characterization of the science and health professionals provided by two FOs in a discussion in which you recently participated.

Tactic 2) You attempt to divert attention from the fact that the major science/health organizations support fluoridation and none support the opinions of FOs with an irrelevant contrast to the policies of other countries regarding fluoridation.

Provide specific citations from each health ministry of the countries that do not fluoridate drinking water, use salt/milk fluoridation, or have adequate levels of natural fluoride ions that clearly states the decision not to fluoridate is based on specific scientific evidence that proves the ineffectiveness of fluoridation for reducing dental decay or on significant risks of devastating health problems as claimed by FOs. In every decision I have read, the choice was based on philosophical beliefs and public opinions influenced by anti-F activism, not on actual scientific evidence of harm. Fluoridation in Israel, for example, was discontinued several years ago by previous Health Minister Yael German based on personal, philosophical anti-F biases. The State of Israel Ministry of Health states, “Drinking water fluoridation has proven itself effective for the past 70 years, while constantly being investigated. To date, no health risks have been established.
https://www.health.gov.il/English/Topics/EnviroHealth/drinking_water/flu...

You never provided a logical explanation of why, if FOs actually have any legitimate scientific evidence to support their claims of obvious and serious harm, the scientific consensus that fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure has not changed in over 70 years, why over 100 recognized science and health organizations and their members continue to publically recognize CWF as safe and beneficial, and why no reputable science/health organizations support the anti-F opinions.

How do you explain the conclusions of all the references I provided which support the scientific consensus that fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure? I’ll address your comments on the 2006 NRC and 2015 Cochrane reviews below.

Tactic 3) Your focus on misinterpreting both the 2015 Cochrane and 2006 NRC reviews highlights common tactics of ASAs –– extracting misleading content out of reviews and studies that can be adjusted and presented so they appear to support anti-F opinions while ignoring the actual conclusions of the reviews and studies.

The Cochrane Review, as noted earlier, clearly concluded that fluoridation is effective at reducing dental decay and “…found that water fluoridation is effective at reducing levels of tooth decay among children. The introduction of water fluoridation resulted in children having 35% fewer decayed, missing and filled baby teeth and 26% fewer decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth. We also found that fluoridation led to a 15% increase in children with no decay in their baby teeth and a 14% increase in children with no decay in their permanent teeth.”

Do you deny that conclusion? The fact that the evidence was mostly before 1975 when the effects of toothpaste and other fluoride-containing treatments became more common does not negate the fact that the Cochrane review concluded that fluoridation is effective at reducing decay. Fluoridation opponents don’t like that conclusion, so they ignore it and proceed to distort the conclusions of the entire study by making statements designed to influence members of the public – most of who will never read the report and would not have the training and experience to interpret it accurately if they did read it.

Tactic 4) This is a specific example of a typical bait-and-switch tactic of ASAs. They disingenuously provide a statement which is technically true (and even accurate) but at the same time is completely irrelevant and misleading in an effort to support a different spurious accusation. This is exemplified by your deceptive statement, “Take a closer look. The [2006 NRC report] committee wasn’t even charged with identifying health risks of fluoridated water (p. 11).“

I looked again at my quote from page 15 and your reference from page 11, and the obligations of the committee were described as follows:

On page 15 – “the committee was asked to evaluate independently the scientific basis of EPA’s MCLG of 4 mg/L and SMCL of 2 mg/L in drinking water and the adequacy of those guidelines to protect children and others from adverse health effects.”
On page 11 – The quote states essentially the same thing, the “Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water reviews the nature of the human health risks from fluoride, estimates exposures to the general public from drinking water and other sources, and provides an assessment of the adequacy of the MCLG for protecting public health from adverse health effects from fluoride and of the SMCL for protecting against cosmetic effects.” Page 11 also states, “MCLGs are health goals set at concentrations at which no known or expected adverse health effects occur and the margins of safety are adequate.”
Similar descriptions of the Committee’s mission were stated in the preface and on page 2.

Your duplicitous tactics are obvious, however, because even though the committee was not charged specifically with identifying health risks of water fluoridated at 0,7-1.2 ppm (as you noted), they were charged with assessing the adverse health effects from drinking water containing natural levels of fluoride ions at 4.0 ppm and higher. The logical conclusion, accepted by rational readers, would suggest that if no evidence of adverse health effects were found at exposure levels of 4.0 ppm, that would also support a conclusion that the review identified no adverse health effects of fluoridated water that contained far lower levels of fluoride ions. The fact that no adverse health effects were reported at exposure levels of 4.0 ppm should confirm the safety of optimally fluoridated water.

Another Tactic 3) In response to your “eye-opener“ reference to the 2006 NRC fluoride accusation, that constitutes another example of extracting misleading content out of reviews and studies that can be adjusted and presented so they appear to support anti-F opinions while ignoring the actual conclusions of the reviews and studies.

To expose and dismiss this claim, as described above, one only needs to go to the “FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS” section of the review (p. 299) and read the results “the committee concludes that EPA’s MCLG of 4 mg/L should be lowered. Lowering the MCLG will prevent children from developing severe enamel fluorosis and will reduce the lifetime accumulation of fluoride into bone that the majority of the committee concluded is likely to put individuals at increased risk of bone fracture and possibly skeletal fluorosis, which are particular concerns for subpopulations that are prone to accumulating fluoride in their bone.None of the other health risks regularly listed by FOs were mentioned.

Your attempt to demonstrate the NRC review actually concluded CWF caused adverse health effects (but failed to mention that in the FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS) by referencing various sections of the review is completely absurd. Apparently you don’t even understand how reviews are conducted and written. A review, evaluates relevant scientific studies to determine what the overall consensus of the studies is and the various strengths and limitations of the studies. If you selectively extract content from the discussions, you can “prove” anything you want.
~> As noted, the published consensus of the committee based on the studies evaluated was there were no risks from drinking water containing fluoride ions at 4.0 ppm besides the three listed. Do you deny that conclusion?
~> The committee was charged to evaluate “adequacy of those guidelines [MCLG & SMCL] to protect children and others from adverse health effects” Do you deny that fact?

~> There were no recommendations to lower the SMCL below 2 ppm (three times higher than optimally fluoridated water) for any reason. Do you deny that fact?
~> If the studies reviewed provided legitimate evidence that drinking water at 4 ppm or 2 ppm caused endocrine disruption, kidney problems, diabetes, cancer, brain damage lower IQ’s, etc. those conclusions would have been part of the findings and recommendations. Do you deny that fact?

What you have done is again typical of the playbook of ASAs. Extract any content out of context from any study or review which does not publish the conclusions you desire to make it appear that your opinions are supported. In this case, you simply extracted various quotes from the extensive discussions of the more than 800 studies referenced. Your p.222, p.266, p.8, and p.303 references have absolutely nothing to do with CFW and, as noted, were not mentioned in the review conclusions.

Virtually any review on any complex scientific issue concludes that more research is needed to improve understanding a complex subject. That statement, in the context of this study however, does not mean that there are probably some deadly health effects that were not uncovered by this review (but will be in the future) and therefore fluoridation should be banned. In fact, in the 12 years since this review was published, there have been no studies that confirm any of the issues mentioned in this review – as noted in the recent references provided in my original comment.

Please understand the significance of this. ASAs ignore the standards of legitimate scientific conduct to present legitimate evidence to other scientists for review and consensus discussions. They will, however, do whatever it takes to confuse and frighten the public in hopes of bypassing the scientific processes by hacking the democratic process.

Let’s see, I’ve been accused by the writer above of being anti-science, disingenuous, duplicitous, deceitful, misleading, irrelevant and “hacking the democratic process.” (I swear I have no Russian connections.)

I’m also accused of fear-mongering, scamming and “fabricating an illusion of chaos.” I’m even compared to a snake trying to eat a little kid.

Wow. I’m not sure what my motivation for being such a terrible person would be. I’m just an ordinary citizen who happened to get interested in a subject, studied it thoroughly, and took what I believed to be appropriate actions as a volunteer, including voicing the other side to an issue that’s not often heard.

The most disturbing theme underlying the writer’s extensive verbiage is that the public doesn’t have the “training and experience” to evaluate fluoridation.

Of course, being a medical professional could help in understanding technical aspects of studies. I’m not and I’m fortunate to have a large nationwide team of scientists, physicians and dentists who advise me when needed.

But the vast majority of literature on fluoride, including the 2006 NRC report and 2015 Cochrane Review, are in plain English. An average high school student can understand them and the basic controversies about fluoridation existing since its inception. You don’t need a PhD to realize it was irresponsible for the U.S. government to declare fluoridation safe in 1950 before it had undergone any extensive testing for human health risks.

I won’t take the time to respond to every claim, many of which are redundant. Here are a few representative ones:

The writer says my quotes from the 2006 NRC report aren’t valid because they’re not from the particular section he was quoting from. Actually, each chapter of the report, based on specific health risks such as cancer, neurotoxicity, etc., has a section at the end entitled RECOMMENDATIONS. This is why I included the page numbers, so anyone can see I’m not taking anything out of context. The NRC committee was charged specifically with evaluating fluoride in drinking water at both 4.0 ppm and 2.0 ppm. But their additional charge of identifying numerous research gaps certainly makes it clear (at least to me) that fluoridation can’t be declared safe below 2.0. When it comes to harm to health, absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.

The writer says that “in the 12 years since this review was published, there have been no studies that confirm any of the issues mentioned in this review.” Oh really? He apparently missed the EPA lawsuit’s documentation that 189 out of 196 peer-reviewed studies on fluoride determined it was neurotoxic, several at levels at or slightly higher than in U.S. water consumption. The 189 doesn’t include the recent highly acclaimed NIH-funded study linking higher fluoride levels in pregnant women to lower IQ’s in their children. Or that fluorosis rates – including moderate and severe where there is structural damage to tooth enamel – have skyrocketed as fluoridation has increased. These are just a few out of many.

The writer contends that the vast majority of other nations rejecting fluoridation have done so “based on philosophical beliefs and public opinions influenced by anti-F activism, not on actual scientific evidence of harm.” Isn’t it amazing (i.e. absurd) that the scientists and physicians of these nations’ health ministries have ignored the science on this issue and only listened to activists (presumably anti-science) opposing fluoridation? I’d love to see the writer’s documentation on that. And actually, France, the Czech Republic and Austria all allude to fluoride’s health risks or toxicity, in addition to the unethical nature of adding a drug to drinking water that numerous European nations cited (for their quotes, see https://fluoridealert.org/content/europe-statements/).

That’s enough. As I’ve said many times before, readers can decide for themselves (and they certainly don’t have to be scientists) on whether fluoridation is a good idea.

Rick North – Yes, you and other fluoridation opponents (FOs) fit the definitions and descriptions I used:

1. Anti-science – accurate because any progress in science or health care depends on an accurate presentation and understanding of the evidence, and the consensus of relevant experts in any given area reflects the understanding of the complete body of evidence at any given time. The current body of evidence does not support the conclusions of FOs, and that is why no reputable science or health organization supports the anti-F opinions. Bias-science would be an appropriate subset of the anti-science category that fits FOs

2. Disingenuous, duplicitous, deceitful – all accurate descriptions of the tactics employed by FOs to try and manipulate the scientific evidence so they can scam the public into fearing a safe and effective public health measure that reduces dental decay and protects the health of citizens. As noted, that so-called ‘evidence’ is insufficient to change the scientific consensus.

3. Irrelevant distractions (FSA and dose, poison and drug, etc.) to create fear in the public when FSA is not in the water which is consumed and the “dose” of fluoride ions is regulated in exactly the same way as the “dose” of residual disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, and other regulated chemicals – by the amount of water that can be safely consumed. It also doesn’t matter whether a water treatment chemical is called a drug, a poison or an additive – that’s an irrelevant distraction because they are all safe and effective treatment methods.

4. Hacking the democratic process – definitely. The use of fear-mongering techniques to scare members of the public, who are non-scientists or health professionals, into accepting the opinions of FOs so they will demand a safe and effective public health measure be halted is completely contrary to democratic principles of an educated public (not a deliberately frightened public) choosing how public health measures are implemented.

5. Fear-mongering – definitely. Your first sentence: “Putting fluoride – a known neurotoxin – in the water is unconscionable” says it all. You are basically accusing the U.S. Government and every scientist and health care professional who supports fluoridation of choosing to deliberately and knowingly poison hundreds of millions of citizens. If that example (and dozens of related claims) don’t constitute fear-mongering, I don’t know what does. You are yelling FIRE in a crowded auditorium because you see the glow of a cell phone - even though you have been told the evidence confirms the phones are safe

6. I simply provided a couple of links that highlight the tactics of FOs. I certainly didn’t compare you to a snake, but you again highlight how FOs “adjust reality” to fit their agenda. Check my words – “Another strategy is highlighted by the scene from Jungle Book…” The adjusted sentence perfectly illustrates your agenda and that of other FOs; “I'm not like those mainstream scientists and health care providers. You can believe in me.” I think the truth of that claim is obvious.

7. I have no idea what your motivation for dismissing the scientific consensus might be. If and you other FOs actually understood the research and if the 70+ years of evidence actually supported the claims of FOs, the scientifically and ethically responsible action would be to convince the scientific and health experts that the consensus should change. That is how science works, not by trying to convince members of the public by distorting the evidence.

8. Are you actually claiming that you and the other members of the public who have not had specific, relevant science and health care training and experience are as qualified to read, understand and evaluate all of the studies on fluoridation as the majority of experts in the relevant fields? Your continual reference to the 2006 NRC report and 2015 Cochrane Review are excellent examples of how you and the public can be misled. Although they are written in English, they are often complicated and very easy to misinterpret – as you demonstrated, and as I described in an earlier reply. The vast majority of studies actually do support the conclusion that fluoridation is safe and effective, and the abstracts which are available on pubmed are often relatively clear. However, there are thousands of studies related to fluoride and fluoridation. What is difficult for those without appropriate training and experience to understand is which ones are relevant and which ones have severe limitations and which ones have been completely misrepresented by FOs. The fact that you admit to depending on “experts” to understand the “technical aspects” of studies simply highlights the fact that you are accepting and depending on the interpretation of those who embrace an outlier dismissal of the scientific consensus.
http://www.cyber-nook.com/water/fluoridationreferences.htm
http://www.cyber-nook.com/water/fluoridation.html
http://www.cyber-nook.com/water/WhatIsScience.html

9. Again, regardless of what you claim about the 2006 NRC review, the committee was asked to evaluate “the adequacy of those [MCLG & SMCL] guidelines to protect children and others from adverse health effects”.  There were no adverse health effects noted for lowering the SMCL of 2.0 mg/l and no risks other than severe enamel fluorosis, bone fracture and possibly skeletal fluorosis noted for lowering the MCLG. Most reviews suggest the need for additional research, and the absence of evidence (after 70+ years of research and hundreds of millions of individuals drinking optimally fluoridated water) is, in fact, absence of evidence. If legitimate, verifiable, reproducible evidence of harm is provided, the scientific consensus will change.

10. I didn’t miss the EPA lawsuit – I think you are confusing it with a petition. The EPA rejected the original 11/16 anti-F petition in 2/17, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/27/2017-03829/fluoride..., concluding, “the petition has not set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride in the U.S. through the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water or otherwise from fluoride exposure in the U.S.” and listing many specific reasons for denying the TSCA section 21 petition, including, “The petition ignores a number of basic data quality issues associated with the human studies it relies upon.” Any current lawsuits have not been settled, and any past lawsuits have found fluoridation to be legal.

11. I asked you to provide specific citations from each health ministry of the countries that do not fluoridate drinking water, use salt/milk fluoridation, or have adequate levels of natural fluoride ions that clearly states the decision not to fluoridate is based on specific scientific evidence that proves the ineffectiveness of fluoridation for reducing dental decay or on significant risks of devastating health problems as claimed by FOs. You provided none, and the reasons I have seen are based on philosophical beliefs, public opinions, and an occasional individual spouting standard, unsupported anti-F opinions – not on specific cited evidence. An allusion to “fluoride’s health risks or toxicity” is not evidence, but it is all FOs provide.

12. You answered none of my questions:
a) Can you provided a logical explanation of why, if FOs actually have any legitimate scientific evidence to support their claims of obvious and serious harm, the scientific consensus that fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure has not changed in over 70 years?
b) What is your perspective on the scientific consensus and the fact that virtually no reputable science or health organization supports the anti-F opinions?
c) Do you agree with the descriptions of fluoridation opponents by FO1 and FO2?
d) How do you explain the conclusions of the references provided?

If anyone has actually read this far, I appreciate your interest in the subject. Just a couple of points to emphasize:

As much as the writer wants to convince you, there is no consensus fluoridation is safe or effective. There never has been. Scientific, medical and lay opposition has been widespread since the U.S. Public Health Service endorsed it in 1950 with no long-term health studies being done, one of the most ill-advised public health decisions ever made.

Consensus? I strongly recommend readers check out the Fluoride Action Network’s website at www.fluoridealert.org. For researchers, it has one of the largest databases of scientific studies in the world (http://fluoridealert.org/researchers/). For everyone, it has a section on the over 4,700 professionals who have signed a statement opposing fluoridation (http://fluoridealert.org/researchers/professionals-statement/), including the names and positions of worldwide leaders, including three of the 12 scientists on the committee producing the 2006 NRC report. For a very long list of opposing individuals and organizations, see http://fluoridealert.org/issues/water/opposed/. And for a short, enlightening video of medical and scientific professionals explaining the risks of fluoridation in lay-friendly language, see http://fluoridealert.org/fan-tv/prof-perspectives/.

Please check out any website promoting fluoridation to see if it even comes close to the comprehensive, in-depth, fact-based features of FAN. YOU decide.

Consensus? Try as he may, the writer can’t spin the actual statements of European health officials opposing fluoridation (https://fluoridealert.org/content/europe-statements/), several of which, as I’ve already pointed out (and the writer ignores), are on record citing toxicity or health concerns – Austria, Denmark, France, Czech Republic and Scotland. Obviously, I’m not going to search every country for statements on health risks, any more than the writer will search every one for statements saying fluoridation is safe. Out of 196 nations, 172 have no fluoridation, either through a nationwide ban or independent decisions of tens of thousands of cities unanimously rejecting it or simply dismissing it as a non-issue. Out of all the reasons cited for rejecting fluoridation, including cost, ineffectiveness, environmental and health risks, the one most cited is how inappropriate putting any drug into drinking water is – the very point of my article.

Consensus? The federal judge hearing the lawsuit against the EPA for allowing fluoridation has ruled against EPA’s attempts to dismiss it. Unlike the fluoridationists, he hasn’t disregarded the latest science. The case is proceeding and will go to trial next summer. Stay tuned.

Do I think medical professionals actively want to hurt people by fluoridating water? Of course not. The vast majority of people, lay or professional, favoring fluoridation are well-intentioned, probably even including the writer, although he obviously wouldn’t say that about me. But the vast majority also have no idea of the numerous peer-reviewed studies finding fluoride’s toxicity to many segments of the population at levels in fluoridated water. Once they find out, many more will be opposed.

Finally, again, the most disturbing thread running through the writer’s long diatribes, and the main point of the op-ed opposing mine, is that I just don’t have the ability to understand fluoridation and therefore should have no right to have my opinion published. And, by extension, most of you can’t possibly understand it either. You have to rely on authority figures in the government and/or corporations and organizations that follow them to tell you how to think.

Well, sometimes I accept their opinions, sometimes I don’t. I can read. I can reason. And I subscribe to the Precautionary Principle, which fluoridation flouts. These are many of the same authority figures, after all, that previously told us that leaded gas, leaded paint, asbestos, DDT, DES and cigarettes were safe.

When fluoridationists decry anyone writing articles opposing fluoridation of “hacking the democratic process,” look out. The real threat to democracy - and our health - is censoring differing perspectives, preventing them from being heard.

That suppression of independent thought goes way beyond absurd. It’s anti-science. It’s anti-journalism. And it’s really, really dangerous.

In order to keep my posted response short, I will provide a brief summary of your continued misrepresentation of the facts and a link to more extensive details.
http://www.cyber-nook.com/water/RickNorth.html

Your attempt to support your opinion that “there is no consensus fluoridation is safe or effective. There never has been” only highlights your apparent lack of understanding of what constitutes a scientific consensus or how a consensus is demonstrated and confirmed. There are only a few alternative health organizations and some environmental, marketing, spiritual and cultural organizations that publically support the anti-F opinions.

In contrast, there are two significant pieces of evidence that confirm the scientific consensus that community water fluoridation (CWF) is safe and effective:
~> All national and internationally renowned science and health organizations accept CWF as a safe and effective public health measure.
~> The fact that virtually all study reviews on CWF have found the practice effective and have found no evidence confirming harm.

Your accusation that the “vast majority [of medical professionals] also have no idea of the numerous peer-reviewed studies finding fluoride’s toxicity to many segments of the population at levels in fluoridated water” is false, libelous and deeply troubling.

I have repeatedly pointed out specific disingenuous tactics employed by you and other fluoridation opponents like doctoring the evidence so it is presented as supporting an anti-F position when it does not. You have not addressed those specific accusations or answered my very specific questions about tactics used by FOs – you simply continue to copy/paste standard, unsupportable anti-F opinions.

A complete reply to your recent comment can be found here:
http://www.cyber-nook.com/water/RickNorth.html

The extended reply includes:
    A discussion of your most recent claims
    Pro-fluoridation resources
    Organizations that support anti-F opinions
    34 Reviews and studies in support of fluoridation