I sometimes wonder what percentage of the population is aware of the ongoing fluoride debate. There’s absolutely a growing voice of dissent over municipal water fluoridation, but how familiar is the everyday citizen? I know that a good majority of my friends and family are not aware of it. I’ve never heard it brought up on any major news television programs like 20/20 or Dateline. It seems the majority of discussion is coming from radio programming, local news stations, activist groups, and some select scientific community organizations.
Just last month, I had the privilege to catch an in depth conversation on the subject. It occurred on one of my favorites programs; Coast to Coast AM w/ George Noory, where Director of the Fluoride Action Network, Paul Connett and leading dentist in the fight against fluoride, Dr. Bill Osmunson dug into the issue for 3 hours. Here are some clips from the show.
- Pt. 1: Fluoridation Problems - 7.0 Mins
- Pt. 2: Risks and Issues - 8.5 Mins
- Pt. 3: Water and the Fluoride Gamble - 8.5 Mins
If you're interested in the full show, e-mail me at email@example.com. In the meantime, below are some high level basic facts and information on the subject of fluoridation.
What's the Debate?
Adding fluoride to the public water systems, otherwise known as fluoridation, has occurred for more than 60 years in the United States. Given this basic historical fact, the immediate question that comes to many peoples mind when they are confronted with the debate is;
“If fluoridation is so bad for us, wouldn’t we already have figured it out? Wouldn’t there be mountains of evidence to illustrate the toxic effects?”
Opponents claim that this evidence does exist, and that much of the scientific and government community simply fail to acknowledge it. It's curiously regarded as a combination of sticking one's head in the sand along with a fear of taking a stand against conventional baked-in thinking. Among other statistics, defenders retort that the evidence for fluoride benefits is proven by US general population tooth decay reductions in the order of 50-60% since WWII. This statistic is one of the most controversial as these same reductions, over the same time periods, are shown in countries that have never engaged in water fluoridation.
Where Does Fluoride Come From?
Sodium fluoride, used in fluoridation, is a hazardous-waste by-product from the manufacture of aluminum. It is a common ingredient in rat and cockroach poisons, anesthetics, hypnotics, psychiatric drugs, and military nerve gas. Fluoride is more toxic than aluminum and studies have shown that fluoride consumption increases the body absorption rate of aluminum by 600%. There are, however, controls set in place to manage this risk. The EPA has maximum water fluoridation levels set at 1 ppm (part per million) and every day many of us are given the opportunity to read a warning on the back of our fluoride toothpaste:
“Keep toothpaste out of the reach of children under 6. If swallowed get medical help or contact poison control center right away.”
But, are these controls enough to protect the general population to the serious downside risks?
Harmful Effects of Fluoride
What is not up for debate is that fluoride harms bones, causes stiff joints, encourages skeletal abnormalities, raises the risk of cancer, results in genetic damage, can damage the thyroid, and hampers nervous system function in humans. Opponents of fluoridation have a real cause for concern given that fluoride acts as a cumulative poison gradually and increasingly affecting the body over long periods of exposure. As a result, potential toxicity becomes a function on how much water is consumed on a daily basis, the individual’s body weight, and the body’s ability to filter and eliminate the chemical. These are wide margin variables that may allow a relatively large percentage of the population to fall into a toxic range over time.
Recently, there has been government studies that attest to fluoridation dangers. In 2005, a CDC study showed irreversible enamel fluorosis in 1 out of 3 children. Then in 2007, the ADA warned parents not to mix baby formula with tap water in the first 12 months of development so as to avoid fluoride intake. Just recently in June of 2008, the National Kidney Foundation stated the kidney disease patients should be notified of the potential risks of exposure to fluoride. Unfortunately, many individuals with thyroid disease and other ailments have been complaining about fluoridation without an official government response.
Inherent Problems with Fluoridation
Each year our scientists are getting better at understanding the toxic implications of fluoride, and one point is glaringly obvious. With water fluoridation, you cannot control the dose ingested, both children and adults are treated with similar doses, and unless the public filters their water, they cannot opt out of this mass medication. Regardless of where one stands, it's apparent that legitimate scientific data is challenging the entrenched "all benefits and no-risk" philosophy of water fluoridation, and all parties must openly and fairly revisit this practice.
To see if you may be drinking fluoridated water, you can start here: CDC Fluoridation Status. In the meantime, for those who are concerned, Berkey makes a highly regarded and very popular fluoride filter that works in any berkey filter system. The PF-2 Fluoride/Arsenic Filters are to be used in conjunction with the Black Berkeys. The PF-4 Fluoride Filters are to be used with the ceramic filters. More information on various system setups can be found here.