Everything You Wanted to Know About Fluoridation

1. Doesn’t fluoride occur in the water naturally anyway?

The fluoride products used in water fluoridation (sodium fluoride or fluorosilicic acid) are classified as hazardous waste products of the fertilizer, aluminum, and nuclear industries. They are even more toxic than naturally-occurring fluoride, since they contain other components, such as arsenic and lead. However, even naturally-occurring fluoride, in areas with high concentrations (over 1 ppm) has been been found to have extremely adverse health effects. Some parts of Cotati, in Sonoma County, already have over 1 ppm in groundwater. In addition to the natural fluoride in groundwater, most people are exposed to multiple sources of fluoride (pesticides in wine and food, tea, some ceramics, anti- depressants, manufacturing, soft drinks, toothpaste etc.), and already are absorbing well over the equivalent of 1 ppm before the water is fluoridated.

2. Don’t advanced countries fluoridate their water? Hasn’t it been proven that countries that fluoridate have better dental health than countries that don’t?

No. Fluoridation has been almost completely abolished in Europe. Recently, other countries, such as Israel and many parts of Australia, have banned fluoridation. Statistics gathered by the World Health Organization do not show any difference in rates of dental caries (bacterial infection) in fluoridated vs. non fluoridated countries. In the U.S., Kentucky, which has 99 percent fluoridation of its water supply, has the worst dental health of any state in the country. Similar results were found by John Colquhoun, the Chief Dental Officer in Auckland, NZ, who studied the effects of fluoridation around the world. He discovered that people in countries with fluoridation had the worst teeth. Other studies also indicate a decrease in dental caries after water fluoridation had been discontinued. Since 1990, 144 cities have rejected water fluoridation, including several in California.

3. Where did the idea of fluoridating the water come from?

Industrialists in the aluminum and nuclear industries were under fire because of the harmful effects of the fluoride waste products being emitted from their plants–plants and animals were dying for miles around. They hired Edward Bernays, who was the grandaddy of mass public relations campaigns (Bernays happened to be the nephew of Sigmund Freud) to convince the American people that putting toxic waste in our water supply was good for us.

4. Maybe fluoridation hasn’t improved dental health, but what harm can it do to add it to our water supply?

First there is the cost factor. At a time when there is no money for schools, dental treatment for kids, health care, transportation, support for the disabled, basic community infrastructure, counties will be spending millions of dollars to fluoridate the water. Even worse, fluoridation has been associated with increased rates of criminal activity, kidney disease, Alzheimers, bone cancer, damage to the thyroid, increased bone fractures, and decreased IQ in children. (See www.robertgammal.com. Adding hazardous waste to our water is particularly harmful to people with kidney disease (who cant excrete it properly), infants (when mixed with formula it far exceeds the safe amount of fluoride), and people who drink lots of water such as diabetics, athletes, and manual laborers. It is a form of mass medication, but unlike drugs your doctor prescribes, there is no informed consent to treatment and there is no regulation of the amounts received. For many children, fluoride in the water can cause a disfiguring condition called fluorosis or mottling of the teeth. Because black and Hispanic children are more susceptible to fluorosis, major civil rights organizations and leaders have come out against fluoridation.

5. Is fluoride poisonous?

Sodium fluoride, the same chemical that is added to many water supplies, is the principle and only poisonous ingredient in Sarin nerve gas (though Sarin contains other ingredients, the only one poisonous to humans is fluoride). Less than half a tube of fluoride toothpaste is enough to kill a small child. The FDA requires a warning on all tubes of flouride toothpaste to immediately call Poison Control in the event a small amount is swallowed.

6. Shouldn’t we leave it to the experts? Don’t they support water fluoridation?

Experts in almost every country concluded that the practice is harmful and supported its elimination (or else their countries never started fluoridation in the first place). Although the head of the Sonoma County Dept. of Health touts the fact that fluoridation is still being done in Spain and the UK, if you look at the actual record, only 11 percent of those countries water is fluoridated. The figure is 3 percent for all of Europe. When the top water toxicologist in the Environmental Protection Agency, William Marcus, disclosed that the reports showing the safety of fluoridation had been doctored to hide its harmful effects, he was immediately fired. A judge later ordered him to be reinstated, since there was no basis for the firing other than his refusal to hide the facts. His union, which represents hundreds of scientists and professionals who work for the EPA, came out with a strong position against fluoride as well, due to its documented toxicity.


Jenny Miller is a freelance writer covering issues of public health.