This week, the Fluoride Action Network and Dr. Mercola have teamed up for Fluoride Awareness Week – a time to draw attention to the science, ethics and politics of uncontrolled fluoride exposure and health.
In the piece below, FAN Director Dr. Paul Connett looks to the possibilities for a fluoride-free future – what it might take to finally put an end to the practice of fluoridation in the very near future:
How Could Fluoridation End in 2015?
Let Me Count the Ways
By Paul Connett, PhD, Director of the Fluoride Action Network
The Peel (Ontario, Canada) lawsuit
This case, being brought by citizens in the Peel district of Ontario and being fought by one of Canada’s most prestigious law firms (Ruby Shiller Chan Hasan), has perhaps the best chance of any lawsuit to end fluoridation. Under the Canadian constitution, the government does not have the right to force medication on it is citizens. Unlike the US, local authorities do not have the “police powers”(see note below) to override constitutional provisions. This lawsuit could end fluoridation in two ways:
- If the case is won it would end fluoridation herewith. However, even if
- the case makes it into court, it would ring the death knell around the country.
Why? In the latter situation, the proponents will have to have their expert witnesses cross-examined under oath. When this happens, the “authority” of local Medical Officers of Health (MOH), which currently bedazzles local councils, will melt away. Currently these MOH are forced to do the bidding of Health Canada, with little independent thought or analysis. Under cross-examination it will become abundantly clear that they simply do not have the science to back either their claims for safety or effectiveness. Once the assumed “authority” of these experts is exposed for what it is, then local councils will be forced to review the science and arguments of opponents of fluoridation on their merits and not simply dismiss them out of hand.
If fluoridation ends in Canada, it will have a huge impact on the US and other English speaking countries.
If the FDA is forced to take responsibility for regulating fluoride for ingestion
After nearly 70 years of fluoridation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never done this. Were it to do so, it would spell the end of fluoridation, because again under a scientific spotlight, no justification could be given for swallowing fluoride. There is no evidence that there is any known biochemical process that needs fluoride, but there is plenty of evidence that many biochemical processes are harmed by it. Moreover, a carefully administered randomized control trial (RCT) using bottled water with and without fluoride should be undertaken. An RCT is by far the best way to quantitatively determine the size of the benefit ascribed to fluoridation. Right now, with more and more evidence indicating harmful effects at doses within the range of common exposure in fluoridated countries the “claimed” benefit could neither justify the risks being taken, nor justify forcing it on people without their informed consent.
If the EPA Office of Water were to do an honest health risk assessment for fluoride in water using the latest scientific evidence of harm
While the FDA has jurisdiction over the administration of drugs (whether delivered as ADDITTIVES to the water supply or in tablet form), the EPA does not. However, the EPA does have jurisdiction over the regulation of CONTAMINANTS in the water supply. For these, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA must determine safe drinking water goals (MCLG or maximum contaminant level goal) and standards (MCL or maximum contaminant level). Since 1986, the EPA has set both the MCLG and MCL at the ridiculously high level for fluoride at 4 ppm. This was based on the use of crippling skeletal fluorosis as the most sensitive end point (clearly politically motivated since crippling skeletal fluorosis is the last stage of this disease, not the first, which has symptoms almost identical to arthritis).
In 2006, the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRC) review panel (hired by the US EPA to re-examine these standards), concluded that the 4 ppm goal and standard for fluoride were not protective of health and recommended that the EPA perform a new risk assessment to determine a new MCLG and MCL. After 8 years the EPA has not finalized a new goal or standard.
In 2011, prompted by the fact that dental fluorosis rates (an indicator of over-exposure to fluoride) were reaching epidemic proportions, the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) held a joint press conference indicating two things,
- The HHS was recommending that the so-called optimal level of fluoride to reduce tooth decay (without causing too much dental fluorosis) should be lowered from the range of 0.7 to 1.2 ppm to a single value of 0.7 ppm, and
- the EPA announced that it had started its determination of a new MCLG, which it was going to base on severe dental fluorosis as the most sensitive end point of fluoride’s toxicity. They also announced that they wanted to protect children’s teeth (i.e., protect the fluoridation program), even though that it is illegitimate under the Safe Water Drinking Act (SDWA). The EPA is required to determine a SAFE level for fluoride under the SWDA, and that determination should not be compromised by any other issues.
This is where the honesty comes in. In the EPA’s announcement, there was no mention of fluoride’s neurotoxicity, including the many studies that have found a lowering of children’s IQ at fairly modest exposure levels. If the EPA were to examine these studies, they would find that many of the children who had their IQ lowered had less than severe dental fluorosis (either moderate or mild). Thus, they cannot legitimately claim that severe dental fluorosis is the most sensitive endpoint of fluoride’s toxicity, but rather fluoride’s ability to lower IQ.
Thus, if a way could be found to “force” the EPA,
- to acknowledge these IQ studies;
- study the full body of literature on fluoride’s neurotoxicity (see www.FluorideAlert.org/issues/healht/brain);
- determine the lowest observable adverse level, or LOAEL, and thence
- the no observable adverse effect level, or NOAEL, and thence
- the safe reference level to protect the whole population (RfD) and thence
- the MCLG (safe drinking water goal), and
- finally, the MCL (safe drinking water standard), which takes into account the economic costs of removing naturally occurring fluoride,
it would force an end to fluoridation. For while the MCL might be set above 1 ppm, the MCLG could not be set higher than 0.1 ppm and more likely at zero (see the discussion below).
The lowest level at which IQ has been lowered (with borderline iodine deficiency) was at 0.88 ppm (Lin et al., 1991) or at 1.26 ppm (without iodine as a complicating factor). It is very clear that there is no margin of safety to protect all children drinking water in the range 0.7 to 1.2 ppm, and given current exposures from other sources (dental products and pesticides) the MCLG should be set at zero. Because, as far as lowering IQ is concerned, our children are already consuming too much fluoride from other sources, and thus, they should not be exposed to any additional fluoride in drinking water. Of especial concern is protecting children from low-income families (whose IQ has a greater potential to be compromised) who are bottle-fed with formula made with fluoridated tap water.
This scenario is the kind of thing that would happen in a world in which public health policy was determined by the rational application of science. Sadly, fluoridation is a practice where politics constantly overrules science, so while we can hope that someone (Congress?) will force the EPA to do an honest job, we can’t bank on it.
However, this is not rocket science. We desperately need to find journalists to pursue and expose this issue. Meanwhile, we have to continue to work on at least two other fronts.
- To reach individuals, one open mind at a time and
- Communities, one community at a time.
We must continue to seek two tipping points:
TIPPING POINT 1
The number of people (scientists, academics, doctors, dentists and decision-makers) who read the literature with an open mind reaches the point when newspaper editors no longer recycle the false claims from fluoridation proponents and fluoridation promoters can no longer dismiss the arguments against fluoridation with disdain and ridicule without risking acute embarrassment.
TIPPING POINT 2
The number of communities ending fluoridation at the local, state, or federal level increases until the point that health agencies in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and US are forced to acknowledge that the practice is untenable, both ethically and scientifically. This has happened in Israel, and it is happening in Ireland. It could well happen in Canada soon (back to point 1 above).
Note on “police powers”:Nader Hasan included this commentary on U.S. “police powers” relative to fluoridation lawsuits in his Legal Arguments Against Artificial Water Fluoridation. See his original for references and further explanations.
1982 OHIO: A challenge to fluoridation was Illinois Pure Water Committee v. Director of Public Health. After a lengthy trial, Judge Niemann concluded that fluoridation legislation, which “exposes the public to the risk, uncertain in its scope, of unhealthy side effects of artificial fluoridation in water supplies, is unreasonable, and [is] a violation of the due process clause of the Illinois Constitution of 1970.” Accordingly, Judge Niemann entered a permanent injunction enjoining further fluoridation in Illinois. The Illinois Supreme Court relied on an expansive doctrine of “police powers,” under which the State was granted significant deference on decisions relating to public health. The Illinois Supreme Court wrote that the “wisdom, necessity and expediency” of the fluoridation program “are no concern of the courts, but are matters primarily for the legislative body of the municipality, and courts are without power to interfere.”
1982 TEXAS:The court reached a similar result in Safe Water Foundation of Texas v. City of Houston, a challenge to the City of Houston’s fluoridation program. After a lengthy trial, with ample expert testimony on both sides, the trial judge concluded that artificial fluoridation of public water supplies “may cause or contribute to cancer, genetic damage, intolerant reactions and chronic toxicity, including dental mottling,” and “that the value of said artificial fluoridation is in some doubt as to the reduction of tooth decay in man.”