Opinion: Water Fluoridation Is An Emperor Without Clothes
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 email@example.com.