April 3, 2018
I just sent this note out to my email list of people interested in, and generally opposed to, fluoridation of public water supplies:
Hello fluoridation debate followers,
Those of you monitoring the fluoridation battle at the national level are probably aware of the lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the Fluoride Action Network and a coalitiion of environmental and health groups. In this suit, FAN and its allies are trying to end fluoridation, using provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Two victories in the preliminary stages of the suit, on Dec. 21 and Feb. 7, have given us real hope that science, rather than the pressure of vested interests may at last prevail and put an end to the misguided practice of fluoridation.
The Feb. 7 ruling in Federal Court, in particular, allowed our side wide latitude in the discovery phase of the suit. This granted us the right to introduce further evidence, including an important IQ study published after the start of the lawsuit.
"Now that the court has granted us full discovery, we have the end of fluoridation in our sights," was the way FAN put it in a bulletin issued March 1. "But it is going to take a lot of money to finish the job."
Thus this humble request made with awareness that I hit you up during fundraiser for FAN at the end of last year. That drive was very successful, I might add.
As FAN's lawyer in the EPA case, Michael Connett, explained:
“In this vital phase we will need to engage a larger legal staff and hire experts with several areas of expertise, including developmental neurotoxicology, endocrinology, epidemiology, toxicology, and risk assessment. These experts will be needed to add depth and explanation to support our analysis of fluoride’s neurotoxicity including IQ loss and harm to the fetal brain.”
So, if you're able to donate, please consider doing so in one of two ways:
1. Online. Go to FAN's website, fluoridealert.org, where you'll find a revolving banner. The first one you see says, "Help FAN Meet Its Fundraising Goal" and gives you the progress toward our $75,000 target. Or,
2. By check, pable to the Fluoride Action Network. Send check to:
Fluoride Action Network
104 Walnut St.
Binghamton, NY 13905
Note: To distinguish donations for the Legal Fund, FAN asks that the donation amount end with $5. All donations are tax-exempt as FAN is a project of the American Envfironmental Health Studies Project, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
Thanks for considering this.
Fluoride Is a Systemic Poison
By JACK CROWTHER
It is ironic that because fluoride is a “systemic” poison, affecting the body generally rather than in one specific way, the fight against community water fluoridation is made harder.
This seems contradictory. Why would a substance described in “Clinical Toxicity of Commercial Products” (Gosselin, Smith, and Hodge, 1984) as a “general protoplasmic poison” allow any defenders for the practice of fluoridation?
It is easy to specify a lethal dose of fluoride, as many a fluoride-poisoned rat, insect and pig worm could testify. But the harm from chronic ingestion of low-dose fluoride is harder to pin down and thereby easier to ignore or dismiss.
The damage from chronic, low-dose fluoride is uncertain and variable, affecting individuals, organs and body systems in scattershot patterns. This has allowed proponents of fluoridation, a random-dose form of mass medication, to cloud the air with partial truths, irrelevant distractions, and tricks of language, all marshaled to make fluoride seem a “safe and effective” key to dental health.
When the National Research Council in 2006 called for more research into fluoride’s effects in a number of areas — the kidney, bone fractures, cancer, and thyroid problems, to name a few — it demonstrated the challenge facing fluoridation critics. While the red flags of fluoride harm were everywhere, the hard evidence to close the case agains fluoridation was often lacking, at least in the NRC’s view.
Fluoridation proponents have seized on the gaps in research to assume a blanket, “there’s-no-proof-of-harm” stance. Only fluoride’s long history as a water additive allows it to escape the testing and monitoring standards required of drugs introduced today. Grandfathered in by the Public Health Service endorsement of 1950, fluoridation sails along with minimal scrutiny.
The accompanying cartoon attempts to portray the systemic nature of fluoride’s threat to health. One reasonably suspects the ragtag group of “ion commandos” is not always successful in their mission to “put a hurt on this guy.” Indeed, most people will show no visible signs of fluoride harm, at least in the short term. Nonetheless, the fluoride commandos are armed and potentially dangerous.
Reasonable caution would dictate that public drinking water, without fluoride added, would make sense until the jury of further research comes in with a verdict. But even if the risks of low-dose fluoride were judged acceptable, fluoridation would violate medical ethics. Each of us has the right to decide whether or not to take a drug, even if it is recommended by our local dentist.
(Jack Crowther of Rutland is retired. He worked as a journalist and in corporate communications.)
Senate Resolution Calls for State of Vermont Neutrality on Fluoridation and Calls for Study of Health and Environmental Effects
The resolution was introduced into the Vermont Senate on March 22 by Sen. Peg Flory of Rutland County and was immediately referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare.
Jack Crowther proposed the resolution to Sen. Flory, a fluoridation opponents, and she agreed to introduce it.
As drafted by the Legislative Council, the measure, Joint Resolution Senate 26, follows Crowther's original wording with some alteration. Here is the exact wording as it was introduced:
"Joint resolution requesting that the State of Vermont refrain temporarily from supporting or opposing the fluoridation of drinking water and that the Departments of Health and of Environmental Conservation conduct a joint study on the human health and water quality impacts of fluoridated water.
"Whereas, fluoridation has been practiced in the United States since the original trials in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Newburgh, New York, beginning in 1945, and
"Whereas, the scientific foundation for fluoridation has been and remains insufficient when current standards for human therapeutic treatment are applied, and
"Whereas, a recent study in the prestigious Cochrane Review failed to confirm the effectiveness of fluoridation, documenting that water fluoridation remains a matter of public debate, and
"Whereas, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared fluoride, for the purpose of promoting tooth decay prevention, to be a drug, and
"Whereas, inserting a drug into the water supply of a municipality constitutes a breach of the medical ethics principle of informed consent, and
"Whereas, there exists scientific evidence indicating the likelihood of harm to a portion of the population from the ingestion of fluoride in the combined concentrations found in drinking water, foods, beverages, pesticides and toothpaste, and
"Whereas, the dental profession and public health agencies of government fail to acknowledge the above-mentioned risks in their zeal to defend and promote fluoridation, and
"Whereas, the fluoridating chemicals municipalities use most frequently are hazardous waste by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry and lack sufficient guarantees of purity and safety, and
"Whereas, civil rights advocates Andrew Young, whose father was a dentist; the Rev. Gerald Durley; and the League of United Latin American Citizens have challenged and oppose the validity of fluoridation as a benefit for the poor, now therefore be it
"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:
"That the General Assembly requests that the State of Vermont refrain temporarily from supporting or opposing the fluoridation of drinking water and that the Departments of Health and of Environmental Conservation conduct a joint study on the human health and water quality impacts of fluoridated water, and be it further
"Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Commissioners of Health and of Environmental Conservation."
The resolution is being treated as a bill in the Health and Welfare Committee, chaired by Sen. Claire Ayer of Addison County. Contact information for the committee can be found at the Vermont Legislature's web site: www.legislature.vermont.gov
A Critique Of
“The Science Behind Community Water Fluoridation,”
A Video Featuring State Toxicologist Sarah Vose
By Jack Crowther
Published Feb. 1, 2017
An eight-minute video, “The Science Behind Community Water Fluoridation,” featuring State Toxicologist Sarah Vose, appears on the Vermont Department of Health website on the “Community Water Fluoridation” page. In addition, the Rutland City Public Works Department has placed the same video on its page headed “Drinking Water Information.”
Unfortunately, the video comes across more as a defense of government policy than as a balanced and honest look at community water fluoridation.
This defensive position might be expected, given the federal government’s unstinting support of fluoridation and Washington’s role as a major funder of state health programs. Vermonters and Rutlanders should know they’re getting a version of the facts that may be influenced by the need to support federal policy.
A Narrow View
On fluoridation, a broad and complex subject with many facets, Vose provides the narrowest of treatments, thereby limiting her exposure to challenge. In doing so, however, she ignores the central scientific question of the whole fluoridation debate: Is fluoridation safe and effective?
In her video, Vose focuses on a narrow range of issues. On another occasion, however, she offered a more general assessment of fluoridation. It came on the Tim Philbin radio show in Rutland in February 2016: “My perspective is that the current science does not indicate there would be any adverse health effects from people drinking fluoridated water.”1
As part of that broadcast, she also said she had “read everything that’s published to date,” on the fluoridation question, a rather grandiose statement, considering the vast literature on the subject.
Issues Vose does not cover
Before addressing the questions Vose deals with in her video, let’s look at some she ignores. They are central to the case against fluoride and thus to Vose’s topic, “The Science Behind Community Water Fluoridation.” Here are three important areas Vose ignores.
Forty percent of American teenagers show visible signs of fluoride overexposure.
For infants, fluoridated water provides no benefits, only risks.
Fluoride affects many tissues in the body besides teeth, including the thyroid gland, the kidneys, the endocrine system, and the skeleton.
For a discussion of these points, see “10 Facts About Fluoride,” found at fluoridealert.org.2
The Questions Addressed by Sarah Vose
Of the five questions addressed by Vose, only four are central to the case against fluoride. They are:
— Does fluoride in the water reduce IQ?
— Does fluoride in the water cause osteosarcoma (bone cancer)?
— Does fluoride in the water increase its acidity and leach lead into our
— Does fluoridation cause bone fractures?
Dr. Vose states that the questions are ones Vermonters have brought to her. The essence of her response on all of them is: Don’t worry. That reassurance nicely coincides with the strongly pro-fluoridation position of the state Department of Health and its formidable overseer, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As she responds to these questions, Vose cherry-picks her studies and filters her presentation so as not to exhibit any reservations about fluoridation. To begin:
Does fluoride in the water reduce IQ?
In suggesting that the answer is no, Vose throws cold water on a few unnamed studies that show an association between fluoride in the water and reduced IQ. She notes that “these studies have been done in places like China and India, and these are very rural communities.” Vermont, too, is “very rural.”
Vose cites the fact that the level of fluoride in the water in the studies was “at a much higher level” than normal for community water fluoridation in the U.S. She also notes that other “environmental toxicants” that might reduce IQ were not accounted for, pesticides for example.
I acknowledge those points. However there are at least 57 studies of the connection between fluoride and IQ, and 50 of them relate lowered IQ and exposure to fluoride. Furthermore, some of the studies did control for key relevant factors. Also, some found IQ reductions at levels allowed in U.S. water systems.3
I’m not reassured by Vose’s observations for several reasons:
First, she seems to have looked at only a few studies.
Second, she seems to ignore margin-of-safety. That is, if a harmful toxic effect is found at a certain exposure, you try to reduce that substantially, by a factor of 10, for example, to protect everyone.
Third, Americans are exposed to fluoride from a multitude of sources, so the level in our water is only part of the picture.
In short, Dr. Vose gives little hint of the red flags in a large body of research on fluoride’s neurotoxic effects. These red flags include dozens of animal studies showing that fluoride exposure “impairs the learning and/or memory capacity of animals.”
Meanwhile, a team from Harvard, the National Research Council, and scientists in the Neurotoxicology Division of the Environmental Protection Agency have all agreed separately on the need for further research. The lack of studies does not prove fluoride is harmless.
For the Fluoride Action Network’s summary of the 50 studies showing a connection between fluoride exposure and reduced IQ, go to fluoridealert.org/studies/brain01.
In dismissing concern about fluoride and IQ, Vose cites a study by J.M. Broadbent in New Zealand. She notes impressively that the study followed “about a thousand children” for more than 30 years. Twelve checks of children from the fluoridated and unfluoridated communities revealed “no association between IQ and water fluoridation,” Vose says.
Missing from her assessment of the Broadbent study, however, is the skepticism she showed for the studies that do tie fluoride to lower IQ. For instance, Vose ignores the fact that nearly all the children in the non-fluoridated community used fluoride supplements. That destroyed any valid comparison between fluoride and “non-fluoride” communities, since nearly everyone was getting fluoride.
The Fluoride Action Network discusses the Broadbent study and the six others showing “no-effect” of fluoride on IQ at: fluoridealert.org/studies/brain07/.
Does fluoride in the water cause osteosarcoma (bone cancer)?
Dr. Vose then turns her attention to whether fluoridation may cause bone cancer. “There have been a lot of questions about a study that came out from Harvard that showed a potential association between young boys and osteosarcoma,” she begins.
Vose is evidently referring to the infamous “Bassin study.”4 I say infamous because it’s conclusion of a link between bone cancer and fluoride was publicly denied by the professor who advised the student who wrote the paper. The Fluoride Action Network found the study and brought it to light.
But, says Vose, a later and larger study designed to see if the earlier results were accurate found there was no connection between fluoride exposure and osteosarcoma.
Vose is apparently referring to the 2011 Kim study. What she omits to mention is that the Kim study didn’t assess the risk to boys aged 6 to 8. Those ages were the focus of Bassin’s study. That’s key, because the potential to cause cancer in young boys undergoing their growth spurt was the main point of the Bassin study.
Vose thereby uses an irrelevant study to rebut the important Bassin study.
Does fluoride in the water increase its acidity and leach lead into our drinking water?
Dr. Vose next takes up the issue of whether hydrofluosilicic acid, the chemical commonly used to fluoridate water systems, can increase the acidity of water to the point where lead in pipes is dissolved into people’s water. Her conclusion comes after a technical discussion of pH and hydrogen ions that only someone with a chemistry background would follow. Essentially, she tells us not to be concerned.
A response to Vose’s simple conclusion carries one deep into a review of various studies conducted over the years on the subject of fluorosilic acid, the leaching of lead from pipes and plumbing fixtures, and levels of lead found in the blood of humans, particularly children.
The reader is referred to a detailed look at the subject in an article by Michael Connett of the Fluoride Action Network titled, “Fluoridation: Worsening the Lead Crisis in Flint (Mich.) and Beyond,” from February 2016.
The article includes the following summary statement: “Several lines of evidence suggest that FSA-spiked water is contributing to unsafe lead exposures in children.” FSA of course stands for fluorosilicic acid, sometimes called hydrofluosilicic acid.
The Fluoride Action Network article also brings up a related issue. Animal studies, the report notes, “have found that fluorides increase the risk of lead poisoning by facilitating the uptake of lead into the blood, and intensifying lead’s effects on the body, including the brain.”
What is frustrating in Vose’s answer is the familiar pattern among dentists and public health officials determined to defend fluoridation regardless of concerns big and small. While evidence of harm is often mixed or ambiguous, fluoridation proponents act as though there are no safety issues at all. They often treat fluoridation science as complete and not open to re-examination. As one critic has said, the proponents’ stance is authoritarian, dogmatic and anti-scientific.6
As we see, Vose uses the authority of her office but ignores much of the scientific literature. At the same time, the Vermont Department of Health’s see-no-harm, speak-no-harm, hear-no-harm attitude is, to a degree, understandable. Any hesitancy on the safety question would undercut public support for the program, and that would upset the federal authorities who control the purse strings for much of Vermont’s public health program.
An indication of the federal influence over Vermont’s public health policy emerged in a February 2016 panel discussion on the same “On the Air With Tim Philbin” radio show referred to earlier. Vose participated along with Robin Miller, Vermont’s oral health director, and Vaughn Collins, executive director of the Vermont State Dental Society.
Robin Miller was asked if Vermont had guidelines for parents who might make up infant formula with fluoridated water. This is a concern to fluoride opponents, because formula made with fluoridated water subjects infants to much higher doses of fluoride than mother’s milk.
Miller replied, “I think when there are federal guidelines, we as a state wouldn’t want to create our own or need to create our own.” Applying that attitude across the board helps us understand why state fluoridation policy so closely mimics that of the federal government.
Vose, however, would have us believe that science rules supreme at the Vermont Department of Health. On the same radio show Vose explained, “Something that’s very important to us (at the state Department of Health) is to keep science as the basis for our policies . . .”
Isn’t it time to stop politics from masquerading as science? The weakness of the case for fluoridation dates back to its beginnings in 1945, but promoters have stifled the voices of dissent. Led by the federal government, they continue to do so.
Does fluoridation cause bone fractures?
Sarah Vose minimizes this concern with the following statements:
“Another point that people have contacted me about is water fluoridation and fractures. Many people look at a study that was done in 1992 that showed an association between water fluoridation and fractures. However, when you look at the study, they did not, the authors did not, control for other factors that can contribute to fractures. These are things such as smoking and age at menopause.
“So if you look at several other studies that are available on the association between fractures and water fluoridation, it’s apparent to me that there’s no strong link between community water fluoridation and an increase in fractures, and in fact some studies show the opposite, that there are less fractures in people who live on fluoridated water.”
Here again Vose seems to select the evidence that supports what I suspect is a predetermined conclusion — fluoridation is safe and effective.
Yes, the evidence is mixed. Yet common sense and the Precautionary Principle, which roughly means “better safe than sorry,” tell us that the possibility of bone fractures linked to fluoridation is a red flag we should heed.
As with much of the fluoride debate, there are arguments on both sides but a weight of evidence making “When in doubt, leave it out” a sensible course of action. Consider:8
Medical trials using fluoride to reduce bone fractures had the opposite effect and were terminated.
“Numerous animal and in vitro [meaning “test tube”] studies have reported that bone strength declines with increased fluoride exposure.”
Enough said. The state toxicologist ought to be free to give us a balanced picture and not be shackled by a state policy of saying only nice things about fluoridation.
Does fluoride in the water cause hardening of the arteries?
This is Vose’s fifth question and, as indicated earlier, not central in the case against fluoride. To keep this paper as short as possible, I will simply note that Vose states that a fluoride molecule has proved useful in PET (positron emission tomography) scanning but does not cause atherosclerosis.
I’ll simply note that a Fluoride Action Network article, “Fluoride and Arteriosclerosis,” takes up a slightly different but related issue. Indeed, arteriosclerosis presents another possible harm from fluoride.9
1 Digital recording of “On the Air With Tim Philbin,” WSYB-AM, February 2016
2 See discussion of these questions in Fluoridealert.org/articles/fluoride-facts
3 Source of graph: Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons, “IQ Normal Distribution
Graph” CCA-SA3.0. Author: Dmcq. Graph simplified by J. Crowther
5 Photo credit: FreeProd33/shutterstock.com
6 Edward Groth III (1991)
7 Alila Medical Media/shutterstock.com
9 “Fluoride and Arteriosclerosis,” fluoride alert.org/studies/cardio03/
(Tune of “The Ballad of Jesse James”)
Chorus (as needed)
Mendon Brook runs down, from out of Wheelerville
She brings fresh water to the town
She rambles and she gambols, she giggles and she sighs
But she never lets our taps run dry
This little brook is as old, as these green hills
She’s young as a Jack or a Jill
She’s quiet and she’s noisy, she frolics all the day
She’ll meander but she’ll never lose her way
Mendon Brook the dentists say, is lacking in fluoride
That’s hooey! that’s hogwash! and it’s dumb!
She’s not lacking, she’s just fine, just as fine as she can be
Thanks just the same I take her fluoride free
Our brook works day and night, and never seems to tire
We need her more than we realize
She’s faithful as a mother, she’s steady and she’s true
If you live here, she’s part of me and you
Mendon Brook runs down, from out of Wheelerville
She brings fresh water to the town
She rambles and she gambols, she giggles and she sighs
But she never lets our taps run dry
J. Crowther, 2017
Letter to the Editor
On Nov. 10, I sent the following letter to the Rutland Herald:
To the editor,
If, in a city facing painful budget cuts, you had a program:
— That was harmful to some people, as shown by much evidence.
— Could not be proven effective after 70 years of trial.
— Denied “informed consent” to 16,000 people.
— Cost $10,000 a year.
Would you not cut it from the budget without hesitation?
The city is Rutland.
The program is fluoridation of the city water supply.
The “informed consent” is our right to accept a drug or not.
The drug is fluoride.
Please share your thoughts with the Rutland Board of Aldermen, now reviewing the budget.
Selling Fluoride to Rutland City:
How Four Dentists and the Vermont State Dental Society
Influenced the March 2016 Vote on Fluoridation in Rutland
By Jack Crowther
Back in February, I wrote a piece about our state health commissioner, Dr. Harry Chen. I outlined many errors and omissions in his defense of public water supply fluoridation, which his department advocates. The article is posted below.
It may have been unfair to single out Chen, although the Vermont public health policy buck stops at his desk. For the record, though, we should look at the other collaborators — dental professionals whose inaccurate and misleading statements helped convince Rutland voters to decide on Town Meeting Day 2016 to continue fluoridation.
On March 1, Rutland voted roughly 2,800 to 1,800 to continue fluoridation. It was an advisory vote that our local government seems to regard as definitive. Yes, the “people have spoken,” but the vote is not and should not be binding. Why? Because it violates the personal right of informed consent, the right to determine whether to take medicine (fluoride) or not.
In the piece that follows, we meet The Sales Team, a group of dental professionals who took up the challenge of convincing Rutland to continue fluoridation. Their effort was successful, despite the efforts of a small but energetic local group to end fluoridation in Rutland. I was proud to be part of that group.
The pro-fluoride side won the vote, not with reason and facts but with a slick and manipulative sales pitch using well-honed propaganda and persuasion techniques. The American Dental Association and other pro-fluoride parties have developed these tactics over the past 70 years.
Just before the election, they trotted them all out with a sales team that recorded a half-hour panel discussion at our local community access station, PEG TV, on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The show was aired three times in the week before the election on March 1.
Why Is This Report Relevant Now?
How is a discussion of this short TV show relevant now, so long after the Rutland vote, when the matter is ostensibly settled?
It is relevant because health professionals must be called to account for willful action or advocacy that harms the public and mocks the standards of their profession. Further, the issue is by no means “settled,” either in Rutland or elsewhere. The fight goes on. We opponents take heart that developing science continues to undermine the “safe and effective” mantra of the fluoridation propagandists.
What follows spells out the falsehoods and deceptions of fluoride proponents and reminds the public of its fundamental right to informed consent.
While we who oppose fluoridation continue our efforts, it’s certain the well-funded and well-staffed pro-fluoride forces will continue their work as well. They often have the advantage of taxpayer funding. Surely their effort is one of the most sophisticated, long-lasting, and successful propaganda efforts ever undertaken.
The Fluoride Sales Team
Here is the cast of characters I call The Fluoride Sales Team:
Vaughn Collins, executive director of the Vermont State Dental Society, representing a large majority of licensed dentists in Vermont.
Dr. Judy Fisch, a Rutland dentist with 27 years in practice in Rutland.
Dr. Stephen Pitmon, a longtime practicing dentist in Colchester and a teacher at the University of Vermont dental residency program.
Dr. Michael Dick, a Rutland dentist for more than 40 years and at the time of the program the chair of the Rutland Regional Medical Center Board of Directors.
Dr. Tom Opsahl, a local dentist for more than 35 years, a member of the state Dental Society’s Executive Committee and a past member of the state Board of Dental Examiners.
If this article seems to carry a tone of disrespect, be assured it is not for the people themselves, in whom there is much to admire, but for the unsupportable cause they have allowed themselves to become entangled in.
With that qualifier, I will let my arrows fly.
Dental Society executive Vaughn Collins led off the panel discussion on PEG TV by saying the group was there to “talk about the benefits of fluoride.”
He thus informs the audience that the dangers, uncertainties and ethical contradictions of fluoridation will get short shrift or no shrift at all.
Collins announced that his assembled panel would critique a flyer called 10 Facts About Fluoride. The flyer was prepared by myself from a publication of the same name by the Fluoride Action Network, a national and international non-profit opposed to fluoridation. I had the flyer printed locally and, with the help of volunteers, distributed it to nearly all addresses of registered voters in Rutland. A copy is attached at the end of this report.
My commentary follows the panel discussion as it unfolded.
Dr. Judy Fisch begins by addressing Fact 1 in our flyer, which states, “Most developed countries do not fluoridate their water.” To rebut this, Fisch notes that 13 million Europeans do get fluoridated water. That works out to a single digit percentage of the overall population.
She then does her best to obscure the issue at hand by implying that adding fluoride to salt and milk, as occurs in some locations in Europe, or carrying out fluoride rinse programs are “community fluoridation.” She deliberately sidesteps the central issue of putting fluoride in the public water supply.
The obvious reply from us fluoride opponents is this: a person can control the dose of fluoride he or she might get from salt, milk or a fluoride rinse. When fluoride comes from tap water, its much harder to control the dose.
Dr. Fisch also vaguely refers to “technical challenges” preventing fluoridation of water systems in Europe. I’ve found no specifics on “technical” barriers to fluoridation in Europe, despite many hours of reading on fluoridation. She may be referring to areas without community water systems. Yes, that would pose a problem.
Dr. Michael Dick supported Fisch’s obfuscation by also citing the addition of fluoride to salt and saying, “I think it’s important to be very clear that Europe is not NOT putting fluoride in, they’re doing it in a different way.”
Like Fisch, Dick deliberately confuses the issue and implies that anti-fluoridationists are against all uses of fluoride. This is far from the truth. I use fluoride toothpaste, because science indicates that fluoride can disrupt the tooth decay process on the surface of the teeth. On the other hand, fluoride does little good and likely harm when ingested into the stomach.
Dr. Fisch also attempts to contradict Fact 2: Fluoridated countries do not have less tooth decay than non-fluoridated countries. She cites the European Archives of Pediatric Dentistry, summarizing 59 studies. The studies purportedly show the effectiveness of water fluoridation.
But she stops there. She ignores data from the World Health Organization demonstrating sharp declines in tooth decay in BOTH fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries. The graph showing this is at the end of the report. It also appears in 10 Facts About Fluoride. In the end, she has not disproved Fact 2.
At Michael Dick’s urging, Fisch then goes on to mention a Calgary, Canada, study, just released at the time of the panel. The study supposedly showed an increase in tooth decay — “by a factor of two to one” — when Calgary ceased fluoridation in 2011. In the context of the then-imminent vote in Rutland, this bogus piece of information was quite damaging to the fluoride opponents’ side. By the time others had a chance to respond to the Calgary study, it was too late.
In particular, we soon learned that the documented increase in tooth decay in Calgary actually began before fluoridation even stopped. Further, the study used methods that a leading scientist said do “not provide a valid assessment.” Also, the increase in decay in the control town of unfluoridated Edmonton was found to be greater than in Calgary.
For the fluoride sales team, it didn’t matter. The false information served its purpose, a support for their “safe and effective” claim just before the election. The dentists effectively played the fear card, raising concern about what would happen if fluoridation were stopped. As is often the case, fluoridationists used a tactic (fear) that they often accuse fluoride opponents of using.
Michael Dick addressed Fact 3: Fluoride affects many tissues in the body besides teeth.
Displaying the confidence that comes from long service in the public eye in both education and the medical sphere, Dick then proceeded to invent information about which he obviously had only a casual acquaintance.
He correctly stated that about 50 percent of ingested fluoride accumulates in the body, primarily in teeth and bones, where it is, he says, “an attribute to your health.” Inasmuch as he cites “all the literature” for his statements, he has clearly overlooked numerous studies showing many possibilities for fluoride harm.
A few examples of the harm I’m referring to make a mockery of Dick’s assurances. Here are a few examples:
1. Dental fluorosis, the spotting and staining of teeth is widespread among adolescents due to overexposure to fluoride.
2. Fluoride likely depresses thyroid function and in fact was once used to treat overactive thyroid glands.
3. Diseased kidneys fail to excrete the 50 percent of fluoride that a healthy kidney excretes, effectively raising the level of fluoride retained in the body and making it vulnerable to fluoride’s toxic potential. Fluoride may also damage the kidney directly.
4. Excess fluoride accumulating in the skeleton can produce arthritis-like symptoms, as documented in workers in the fluoride-emitting industries.
5. Some people are especially sensitive to fluoride toxicity. That underscores the importance of giving people informed consent. They need the option to avoid fluoride without having to provide their own water supply.
6. Bottle-fed babies should not get fluoride from water mixed with formula. Dentists once acknowledged a risk; now they downplay it.
Fluoride “is not retained in any other bodily tissues,” Dr. Dick informs us. He neglects to mention the accumulation of fluoride in the pineal gland, which affects the sleep cycle and sexual maturity. In fact the early Newburgh, N.Y., fluoride trial showed that girls were reaching menarche (having their first period) several months earlier than those in Kingston, N.Y., the unfluoridated control town.
Also glossed over and perhaps not known by Dr. Dick is the active role of fluoride in the body. As former Fluoride Action Network director Dr. Paul Connett, a chemist, states, “While the fluoride ion is fairly unreactive chemically, it is very active biologically. It inhibits enzymes and forms complexes with many metal ions, which are crucial for biochemical function.” Fluoride is an enzyme poison and a disruptor of the endocrine system, established facts the dentists never address.
Not to be outdone in spreading misinformation, Dr. Pitmon, the instructor of our future dentists, declares the following: Fluoride retained in the teeth, he says, makes them “more invulnerable to decay.” Here Pitmon repeats the now-discarded assumption that formed the foundation for the whole fluoride program.
Early studies, shaped and manipulated by industry-allied researchers, suggested that ingestion of fluoride made the developing teeth of children stronger. Dentists still cling to this early linchpin of the fluoridation program, even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declares that the primary benefit of fluoride is topical — acting on the surface of the teeth — and not through the bloodstream.
Fluoride is not proven to “make teeth stronger.” It disrupts the chemistry of decay at the surface of the tooth, resisting decay in that manner.
Dental Practice Experience Versus Science
All four dentists testified to their clinical observations of reduced decay in patients from fluoridated communities versus those from non-fluoridated towns.
One does not casually dismiss the observations of practitioners with long experience. Yet it is possible to misread one’s own experience, especially when your professional society makes belief in fluoridation an article of faith for its members.
To the point, tooth decay has declined noticeably since 1970 in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries, as shown in the graph below. Better diet, better dental care, improved oral hygiene, and use of fluoridated toothpaste are likely reasons for the decline. So what seemed to be a result of water fluoridation was quite likely happening for other reasons. For non-fluoridated countries, the conclusion is obvious.
Meanwhile, epidemic tooth decay in low-income neighborhoods of long-fluoridated cities like Boston, Cincinnati, New York City and Pittsburgh give the lie to suggestions that fluoridation is the answer.
Moreover, no modern randomized controlled studies have shown the effectiveness of fluoridation. The prestigious Cochrane Review, cited by fluoride proponents as showing fluoridation’s effectiveness, actually found no strong studies reaching that conclusion.
Dr. Pitmon noted that 100 million more Americans “now enjoy” the benefit of community water fluoridation than did in 1960. I myself don’t “enjoy it.” In fact, my wife and I just spent more than $200 for a reverse osmosis water filter, to avoid the forced “enjoyment” of fluoride.
“Some people are trying to turn the clock back,” Dr. Pitmon says with regret. Count me among those who want to turn the clock back to a time when we were not adding a hazardous waste byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry to public drinking water. A time when we were:
— Not adding a chemical often containing arsenic.
— Not adding a substance that poses a hazard to municipal workers that have to handle it.
— Not adding a chemical that is mostly flushed into our sewer system to enter our streams and lakes. (Less than 1 percent is consumed.)
Dr. Pitmon holds up to the camera the flyer printed by the group I head, Rutland Fluoride Action. It was and is titled “10 Facts About Fluoride” and is taken from material carefully developed by FAN, the Fluoride Action Network.
With ill-concealed condescension, he counsels the viewers, “It really should be the ‘10 Myths About Fluoride,’ because these are not facts, these are myths.”
Thus, on their own authority, unbacked by a knowledge of current science, do the fluoride proponents sweep away hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, books, testimony of credentialed scientists, and common sense.
Among other statements, Dr. Opsahl praised public water fluoridation by saying, “You have to do so little.” By that he meant that no effort is required to drink fluoridated water if it comes from your tap.
Unfortunately, without the brushing and flossing and good eating habits, fluoridation is powerless to stop tooth decay. And with those essentials of oral health, fluoridation is unnecessary.
Fact 4: Fluoridation Is Not a Natural Process
As with all the 10 Facts About Fluoride, Fact 4 comes from the Fluoride Action Network’s thoroughly researched and documented publication of the same name. References are found on Page 32 and following.
“Right away that’s a myth,” says Dr. Dick, taking up Fact 4. He calmly proceeds to spin his own myth, mixing a blend of fact with public relations gimmicky and half-truth. Fluoride “doesn’t come from fertilizer, like you’ve been reading about,” he states flatly, repeating an untruth spread by state Health Commissioner Harry Chen.
As the lightest skimming of the literature on fluoride will confirm, the main source of fluorosilicic acid, the chemical used in Rutland’s and many other municipal fluoride operations, is the production of phosphate fertilizer. Fluorosilicic acid is a byproduct of that process and would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste were it not labeled a “product” and sold to cities across the country.
Fluoride includes various compounds of fluorine. Some of them, like fluorite (also called fluorspar), are natural substances, in the sense that they are found in nature. Arsenic and lead are other hazardous substances found in nature. Their natural origins are no guarantee of healthful effects. The fact that much drinking water contains some fluoride does not mean we should add more of it, any more than we should add arsenic.
The dentists on the panel avoided calling fluoride a nutrient, but they might as well have. The American Dental Association treats it as one, although there is no demonstrated need of the body for fluoride.
Instead of calling fluoride a nutrient, dentists usually call it a “natural” substance whose safety is beyond question. Yet fluoride is much more than a passively benign substance. If it was, you wouldn’t find it in rodenticides, pesticides and a host of drugs like Prozac and Cipro.
Rutland’s Water Source Contains Virtually No Fluoride
Rutland’s water, coming from Mendon Brook, contains little to no fluoride. City Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg has told me the fluoride coming into our reservoir has less than .1 parts per million (one-tenth of a part per million), the lowest level tested for. Rutland adds fluoride to raise that level to .7 parts per million (seven-tenths of a part per million).
Michael Dick inadvertently pleads a portion of the fluoride opponents’ case by noting that fluoride is everywhere, in Pepsi, in Coca Cola “and everything else you eat.” Because more than 70 percent of the water supplies in America are fluoridated, we’re getting fluoride not just from our community water supplies but from the food and beverages that are made with water. For that reason, the dosage of fluoride is uncontrolled. Your intake of fluoride varies widely depending on your consumption of different fluoride-containing foods and beverages.
This multi-source exposure was part of the reason why the 2006 advisory report to the U.S. government, “Fluoride in Drinking Water” called for a tighter standard on fluoride in drinking water. After 10 years there has been no action. Anything that challenges fluoride’s status as a protected contaminant is almost certain to meet with foot-dragging and outright resistance.
Both Vaughn Collins and Dr. Judy Fisch also give ground in stating that some towns in Vermont have excessive fluoride in their natural water supplies. Collins and Fisch therefore admit you can get too much fluoride even when the source is “natural.” If that is so, why are they not concerned about the uncontrolled dosing of fluoride that results from drinking fluoridated water?
To illustrate, the person who drinks three quarts of water a day (an athlete or laborer, for example), gets three times the dose of an office worker drinking one quart.
Smiles and Hubris
Opponents of fluoridation in Rutland and elsewhere provide specifics on the likely harm and limited effectiveness of fluoride, all backed with solid science. Against this, wherever the fluoridation battle is fought, the dentists toss up the same diverting smokescreen. Their DMD and DDS degrees, their years of practice, and the endorsements of professional groups and government agencies are their answer. They reference “hundreds” or “thousands” of studies but provide few or no details. “Trust us,” is their bottom line.
With a broad smile, Dr. Dick told the PEG TV audience, “. . .Anybody who is opposed to fluoridation, they’re eating it and drinking it — today, every day.”
Yes, we’re all eating and drinking fluoride every day. Whether we want to or not. We’re virtually forced to consume it.
The Rutland Area Food Co-op membership voted in 2015 to oppose fluoridation of city water. Co-op customers and shoppers at the farmers markets in Rutland and elsewhere demonstrate the public’s desire for pure food. They should have pure water as well.
What Is Dental Fluorosis?
Drs. Dick and Fisch testify to never having seen dental fluorosis locally. The condition consists of spotted, stained and pitted tooth enamel. Government statistics say the condition affects more than 40 percent of adolescents.
But you, dear reader, have probably seen it. See photos at the end of this article. Dentists defending fluoridation like to emphasize the fact that most dental fluorosis is “mild,” implying insignificant. The data paint a different picture. (Chart appears at the end of this report.)
Even the scientists argue about whether fluorosis is an effect on health or simply an esthetic concern. But esthetics matter. We all would prefer a nice smile to a stained, mottled smile. Look at the pictures below and decide whether you’d be fine with dental fluorosis.
The bar graph at the end of the report shows the incidence of fluorosis as documented by the National Institute of Dental Research (part of the National Institutes of Health) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. (part of the National Center for Health Statistics within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
As they do so often, the dentists dismiss a real issue with distorted facts and shaded language. While Drs. Pitmon and Opsahl said they had never seen “severe dental fluorosis,” Drs. Dick and Fisch said they had not seen dental fluorosis, period.
The dentist panel not only understated the prevalence of fluorosis but sought to put the blame on accidental swallowing of toothpaste or areas of excess natural fluoride in the water. The attempt to shift blame away from community water supplies is highly suspect. If fluorosis is widespread and most people get most of their fluoride from public water supplies (as the National Research Council 2006 report Flouride in Drinking Water confirms) what would logic tell you is the main culprit?
It is interesting to me that the dental and health authorities cherry pick their facts from the authoritative sources of government, trumpeting the ones they like and ignoring the ones they don’t.
Dr. Pitmon accused fluoride opponents of using fluorosis as a “boogeyman.” That means he sees fluorosis is an imaginary threat used as a scare tactic. He even goes beyond that to say: “Actually, fluorosis is a good thing. Mild fluorosis is something we like to see in teeth. And in fact it makes the teeth slightly whiter.
“Most people actually like the look of that, and it tells us as dentists that those teeth are stronger. I mean, when I see a bit of whitening in the teeth, I’m happy as a dentist, because it means that patient is going to have fewer cavities.”
Thus, Dr. Pitmon has confirmed the existence of fluorosis, despite Drs. Fisch and Dick never having seen it.
The late Dr. John Colquhoun was a dentist in New Zealand who initially supported fluoridation, then turned against it based on his own extensive studies. He said this about fluorosis: “Common sense should tell us that if a poison circulating in a child’s body can damage the tooth-forming cells, then other harm also is likely.”
Fact 6: For Infants, Fluoridated Water Provides No Benefits, Only Risks
This what Dr. Opsahl, quoting the American Dental Association, said about that: “It is safe to mix infant formula with fluoridated water . . .”
As do his colleagues everywhere, Dr. Opsahl adopts a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil attitude about fluoride. He cites a 2010 study saying it is safe to mix formula with fluoridated water. This clearly backs away from a 2006 email from the ADA to members recommending that parents be advised that formula be made with “low- or no-fluoride water.”
Today dentists lamely say that fluoridated formula is “safe,” even if not recommended.
There Is Very Little Fluoride in Mother’s Milk
Mother’s milk normally has minuscule amounts of fluoride, between
.04 and .004 parts per million. That is 1/18th to 1/175th of the fluoride in a normally fluoridated municipal water supply. Nature protects the baby from exposure to fluoride, which studies show can affect the developing brain.
Dentists believe or pretend that their statements are based on solid science, while those of fluoridation critics are based on scare tactics and “the internet.” Dr. Opsahl talked about “trusting our institutions, who are using scientific technique, peer-reviewed technique, so that means . . . that the outcomes that they claim are really true.” Again, “Trust us.”
But dentists cite only the studies that support fluoridation as safe and effective. We opponents can cite hundreds of peer-reviewed studies showing that fluoridation poses risks to health. But these studies critical of fluoridation are routinely dismissed by proponents.
The Cochrane (2015) and York (2000) Reviews
The quality of evidence supporting fluoridation becomes more questionable with the passage of time and the emergence of new studies. Especially telling are the Cochrane Review of 2015 and the earlier York Review of 2000.
Although each review found fluoridation to reduce cavities, neither found high quality research to support those findings. Both studies also found that fluoridation caused an association between fluoridated water and dental fluorosis of aesthetic concern. Again, however, the quality of studies was lacking.
The point is, if you’re going to medicate an entire population, you need rock solid evidence that no harm is done. Even if it did no harm, a major question would remain: Is it ethical?
Let us take a closer look at the more recent Cochrane Review and its sponsoring organization, which describes itself as a “global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers [caregivers] and people interested in health.”
The Rutland Regional Medical Center lists the Cochrane reviews among its “evidence-based” information resources for physicians. Contributors to Cochrane’s mission include thousands of individuals from more than 100 countries to, in their words, “produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest.”
Aside from the conclusions about fluoridation’s effectiveness, the review also made these findings that bear on the debate in Rutland:
— The majority of studies “were conducted prior to 1975 and the widespread introduction of the use of fluoride toothpaste.”
— “There is insufficient evidence to determine the effect of stopping water fluoridation on caries [tooth decay] levels.”
— “No studies that aimed to determine the effectiveness of water fluoridation for preventing caries in adults met the review’s inclusion criteria.” This obviously undercuts the statement by Dr. Dick that fluoridation “applies to all ages” and “not just kids.” As well, it challenges the CDC’s assertion of benefit to adults.
— The reviewers found “high risk of bias” in the studies reviewed.
— The study found a 12 percent incidence of dental fluorosis “of aesthetic concern” (which presumably means “unattractive”) among populations having .7 parts per million of fluoride in their water. (That level, .7 ppm, is the federally recommended standard.) Again, however, the reviewers had limited confidence in the result because of “high risk of bias” and “substantial between-study variation.”
— “There is insufficient information to determine whether initiation of a water fluoridation program results in a change in disparities in caries levels across SES [socioeconomic status].” This finding undercuts assertions that fluoridation helps disadvantaged populations.
Both the Cochrane and York reviews support the assertion of fluoride opponents that fluoride’s effectiveness is unproven.
Safety Is Illusory
Seeking to reassure the audience on the safety of the water treatment process, Dr. Fisch stated, “The whole process is monitored and tested on a regular basis.” However carefully the fluorosilicic acid is added to Rutland’s water, a safety gap remains. That gap is the 70-year failure to carefully monitor and measure by high-quality studies the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation.
As the Cochrane and York reviews confirm, solid science on the effectiveness of fluoridation is lacking. Numerous safety issues remain unresolved. In many cases, where studies showed potential risks, followup studies have not been done. The responsible organizations in the U.S. display an aversion to exploring areas of concern and looking into non-dental effects of fluoride.
Vaughn Collins, the dental society executive director, weighs in with a prestigious endorsement of fluoridation by the deans of the Harvard Schools of Public Health, Medicine and Dentistry. During the panel discussion, he cited a letter from the Harvard deans that, in Collins’ words “basically says that all the peer-reviewed research is accurate, that it’s safe to be put into community water fluoridation, and they completely support it.”
“One of the things I kind of jokingly say to some of the towns I visit,” Collins says, “is if you don’t trust Harvard University, which I would assume is one of the more pre-eminent universities, you probably have larger problems in your community than whether to fluoridate your water.”
I don’t follow his logic, but underneath his statement is, again, the reliance on prestigious endorsements without reference to specific science.
I certainly respect Harvard in general. The school has a lofty and well-earned reputation for excellence but is subject to the frailties and failings of all institutions. For example:
Recent revelations note how Harvard faculty were paid by and in turn supported the sugar industry. Harvard research, now discredited, pointed to fat, rather than sugar, as the main culprit in causing obesity.
The sugar industry also had an interest in fluoride. Fluoride offered sugar producers the promise of a tooth decay preventative that didn’t reduce sugar intake. We all know that sugar is a big cause of tooth decay.
The efforts of Dr. Frederick Stare (head of Harvard’s Nutrition Department) on behalf of his friends on the industry-controlled Sugar Research Foundation, where he held a position, are well documented. He was a strong supporter of fluoridation.
Stare described opponents of fluoridation as “compulsive critics . . . neurotics, driven by mystic, primitive, subconscious fears.” His Wikipedia biography says he described Coca Cola as "a healthy between-meals snack.”
But Stare’s apparent conflict of interest isn’t the only smudge on Harvard’s reputation for excellence in scholarship.
The Harvard-affiliated Forsythe Dental Clinic fired a highly qualified toxicologist, Dr. Phyllis Mullenix, who carried out (at her employer’s instruction) research on effects of fluoride on the nervous system of rats.
Unfortunately for her, the research raised a red flag about fluoride safety by pointing to nervous system effects. Rather than support further studies, Forsythe fired Mullenix, now a credible fluoride critic.
Also from the revered university came the story of Prof. Chester Douglass DMD, PhD, professor of oral health policy and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Very impressive. He was a supporter of fluoridation.
Prof. Douglass advised a doctoral candidate, Elise Bassin, whose research indicated a link between fluoridation and bone cancer in boys undergoing their growth spurt. Douglass, who was also affiliated with the Colgate toothpaste company, wound up denying the results of Bassin’s study. The study was kept quiet until it was uncovered by the Fluoride Action Network.
An then, contrary to the assurances of the Harvard deans, there is the Harvard “meta-analysis,” familiar to many fluoride critics. To quote the Fluoride Action Network: “In July of 2012, a team of Harvard researchers published a ‘meta-analysis’ of 27 studies that have investigated the relationship between fluoride and human intelligence. . . The overwhelming majority of these studies found that fluoride exposure was associated with reduced IQ in children.”
Another study critical of fluoride that carried a measure of Harvard prestige was a review in the March 2014 issue of the well known medical journal The Lancet. Again, as reported by FAN, The Lancet “published a review of ‘developmental neurotoxicity’ which concluded that fluoride is one of only 11 chemicals that is known to damage the developing brain.”
The authors of The Lancet review, which included Harvard scientist Philippe Grandjean, wrote:
“Our very great concern is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements, and damaging societies, perhaps most seriously in developing countries.”
Collins, quoting an authority quoting another authority, said, “As Dr. Opsahl said, we’d like to think we can rely on some of these major entities that all support community water fluoridation.”
Yes, we’d like to think that, but as the above facts show, a letter signed by Harvard deans hardly tells the whole story.
We can certainly agree when Dr. Dick tells the viewing audience, “Do your own research.” Just be aware that the dentists will discount your research if it produces any result other than what they believe, to the root of their molars, to be true: fluoridation is “safe and effective.”
Anecdotes Aren’t Science
Of the fluoridation opponents, Dr. Dick says, “They purport to certain studies and they make certain statements. . . . Most of these studies are anecdotal stories and anecdotal stories do not make for facts.”
Lest there be any doubt about the supporting evidence for the “10 Facts About Fluoride,” deemed “myths” by the dental panel, 58 references are supplied at the end of this piece.
Speaking of anecdotes, when dentists speak of what they have seen in their practices as to fluoride’s effects or lack of effects, they are themselves offering anecdotes.
None of them has mentioned any record-keeping they conducted that gave a measure of scientific foundation to what they so confidently state as fact. This is not to discount their experience as dentists, which must be given weight. However, it is a sin of pride to discount with a wave of the hand genuine science that happens to conflict with their experience.
Fact 7: Fluoride Supplements Have Never Been Approved by the FDA
In discussing fluoride opponents’ Fact 7, Dr. Dick showed a cavalier disregard of the facts.
At the panel discussion, he simply smiled and said, “Well, they’re [the FDA are] responsible for approving it and they set the standards for how bottles are going to be labeled; that’s just a myth. It wouldn’t be produced, it wouldn’t require a prescription. When you get prescriptions from a pediatrician or from a dentist, if it wasn’t FDA approved, we couldn’t do it. So how somebody could say it’s not FDA approved, it’s hard to merit a conversation about it, but they sure are approved and that’s a fact.”
Sorry, doctor, you’re simply wrong. There is no approval. Here's the proof from a letter to the Lillie Center in 2005 in response to several questions, including this one:
“Have any fluoride supplements ever been approved by the FDA?”
The FDA responded as follows:
“No. To date, FDA has approved no fluoride-containing supplements as prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Dietary supplements do not require premarket approval by FDA.”
The full letter may be found at www.fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/fda-2005a.pdf.
A further weigh-in by the FDA is found in a January 2016 order to Kirkman Laboratories from the FDA. It orders that company to cease producing fluoride supplements because “. . . these drugs are ‘new drugs’ within the meaning of section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(p)] because they are not generally recognized as safe and effective under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in their labeling.”
You can find the full letter under fda.gov. Put “Kirkman Laboratories” in the search box.
Fact 8: Fluoride Is the Only Medicine Added to Public Water Supplies
Dr. Pitmon seemed to positively enjoy himself in addressing Fact 8. “I love this myth because it comes up all the time and they talk about fluoride as a medicine and [we] would be medicated against our will and all that,” he said. “It’s a myth. Fluoride is a mineral, it’s a naturally occurring mineral. It occurs in water naturally all over the world and, you know, . . . Dr. Dick was talking about science and how the fluoride deniers are using science, using the veil of science, to sort of promote their beliefs . . . or their opinions.
“It’s just not true. It’s settled science. Water fluoridation is safe. And I just can’t think that maybe this isn’t, there isn’t a deeper argument here about the role of government in public health. You know, are we saying that government has no role in improving the health of its citizens? Because we certainly do it with iodizing salt, okay? We do it by adding Vitamin D to milk. Flour is fortified. I mean this is done in many different areas, safely and to improve the public health, and community water fluoridation is just another measure that our public health system can use to improve our public health.”
Here’s what’s wrong with that train — more like a train wreck — of thought, sincere though it may be. Let me break out the inaccuracies and faulty logic.
1. “Fluoride is a mineral.” Not exactly. Calcium fluoride in nature is a mineral that contains fluorine, yes, but the highly corrosive fluorosilicic acid they put in Rutland’s water is not, though it may come from a mineral.
2. “It’s settled science.” By its nature, science is not settled but an ongoing quest for further understanding. By rejecting any consideration of recent fluoride studies, pro-fluoridationists brand themselves as anti-scientific, dogmatic and authoritarian, as Edward Groth III has noted. Their convictions about fluoride’s sterling qualities speak more of a belief system than of science.
3. There may well be, as Dr. Pitmon said, a question in the fluoridation debate about the role of public health. But adding iodine to salt or Vitamin D to milk or fortifying flour is hardly comparable to fluoridation. Each of those can be purchased or not by the consumer, who has ready alternatives. The likelihood of overdosing on the products mentioned is minimal.
Fluoride is a medicine designed to treat tooth decay, and it has known side effects. Everyone on a public fluoridated water supply is forced to either drink fluoride or seek and pay for an alternative source. Informed consent, the right of a person to accept or reject treatment, is central to modern medicine. Fluoridation denies informed consent. And as our anti-fluoride campaign revealed, some people don’t even know Rutland water is fluoridated.
What’s All the Fuss About?
With the panel’s half-hour time limit winding down, Vaughn Collins joins the conversation again to wonder aloud why the group is “having this conversation,” “when there is no crisis.”
Let me explain why the conversation was taking place despite the absence of a recognized “crisis.” The conversation was taking place because many people in Rutland and elsewhere recognize that fluoridation is unproven, unethical and potentially harmful. We have been lulled into a passive acceptance of this mass experiment on the public. That, however, is no reason to continue until further proof of harm emerges. That is no reason to continue until people wake up to the infringement of their liberties.
Fact 9: Swallowing Fluoride Provides Little Benefit to Teeth
Dr. Opsahl addressed Fact 9. Here is a portion of what he said: “When fluoridated water is the main source of your drinking water, you get a low concentration and that’s maintained and it’s introduced into the mouth every time you take a sip. Now some of the fluoride is maintained on plaque, which is on the outside of the teeth. Some of it is in your saliva. Some of it is actually incorporated into the enamel on the outside of your teeth. So it is a way of having a frequent source of making the outside of your tooth a stronger and more resistant tooth.”
He goes on to say he’s sure the dentists present have all seen the benefits of fluoridation in the teeth of their patients.
“And the systemic facts show that even in younger children before they have really [reached] the tooth bud development stage [fluoride] is important so that by the time the tooth erupts into the mouth it is ready to face the problems of different acid breakdown and other environmental and especially their dietary forms that are going to try to cause decay in that tooth. So to have that fortress basically with you from the very beginning is a systemic effect, and it’s really an important one.”
Did he tell us why we need to swallow fluoride? If he did, I must have missed it.
Dr. Opsahl’s explanation goes all around the mulberry bush. As best I can tell, he takes a position at odds with current science. The dentist, and other dental professionals seem loathe to abandon what was once the foundation for the fluoridation program, the idea that drinking fluoridated water or taking fluoride supplements strengthens the developing teeth and makes them more resistant to decay. But they should abandon that line of argument because it’s obsolete.
Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), a strong supporter of fluoridation, has stated that “laboratory and epidemiological research suggests that fluoride prevents dental caries [tooth decay] predominantly after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.”
The July 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that “fluoride incorporated during tooth development is insufficient to play a significant role in caries protection.”
And toxicologist Dr. Vyvyan Howard sums up the matter this way: “I don’t think you can justify the fluoridation of drinking water on the lines of a topical treatment to teeth. It’s illogical.” In other words, fluoridating drinking water so you can rinse your teeth with very diluted fluoride when you’re thirsty doesn’t make sense.
Other evidence on this crucial point of the fluoridation debate can be found at www.fluoridealert.org/studies/caries04/.
Does this not confirm Fact 9: Swallowing provides little benefit to teeth?
Fluoridation — Why Do It?
If there is any likelihood of harm from ingesting fluoride, why do it if the main benefit is topical. Research cited above and in the References at the end of this article establish the possibility of harm beyond reasonable doubt.
Of course the dentists don’t address a notable paradox, the fact that tooth decay in non-fluoridated countries is about the same as in fluoridated countries. The U.N. World Health Organization, itself an endorser of fluoridation, is the source of that information. We previously made this point in Fact 2.
A related, common-sense question to ask is this, “If water fluoridation is such an obvious, “safe and effective” means of solving a widespread health problem, why has not more of the world, especially the more developed areas, embraced it?
Worldwide Tooth Decay
Only about five percent of the world’s people have fluoridated water. And only 11 countries have more than half of their people drinking fluoridated water.
The 11 countries are indicated with red dots on the map at the end of this article. The countries are, in order of fluoride-consuming population: the United States, Maylasia, Australia, Chile, Hong Kong (part of China), Israel, Singapore (a city-state), the Irish Republic, New Zealand, Brunei (on the island of Borneo), and Guyana (northeastern South America).
Fact 10: Disadvantaged Communities Are the Most Disadvantaged by Fluoride
Let us assume that Dr. Pitmon is completely sincere in his rejection of Fact 10. At the end of the panel discussion, he almost pleads with the viewing audience. He says, “This myth is really, really hurts me inside because it, it’s . . . you know I’m sure the . . . water fluoride deniers, don’t mean or aren’t trying to cause public harm but really by pulling fluoride out of the water, by discontinuing water fluoridation, you’re putting the oral health of all Vermonters at risk, particularly those that are least able to afford dental care, our most vulnerable Vermonters.”
He continues: “Community water fluoridation is equal opportunity, you know. It’s really a public health measure that benefits everybody. . . . I just find that . . . very disheartening that there are those [voice trails off]. It borders on elitist to think that . . . I have . . . the money to have dental care and to take care of my teeth and so I don’t need fluoride, so nobody should have fluoride. I don’t agree with that at all.”
This response is artful in portraying fluoride opponents as selfish elitists and claiming the high road for dentists in supporting the public interest. As noted below, the dentists further seek to press their case by saying that — Heavens! — fluoridation reduces their income.
Here’s my quarrel. Dr. Pitmon:
— Says fluoride opponents put Vermont’s oral health at risk. We opponents say our concern is the whole-body health of Vermonters including things the dentists never talk about: the thyroid gland, the kidneys, the skeleton, the overall health of those with special sensitivities, the developing brains of infants, the risks to diabetics and kidney patients.
— Ignores the role of nutrition and simple tooth brushing, which we fluoride opponents believe are far more important than fluoridation to dental health. Ironically, fluoridation may serve as an excuse for not providing better dental care for the less fortunate.
— Deceptively implies dentists are only in the fluoridation promotion business for the public good. In fact, their long-standing alliances with fluoride-polluting industries, their generous funding from fluoride promoters, and the potential embarrassment of backing away from fluoride advocacy after more than 65 years of support are unacknowledged factors at play.
— Imputes selfish and elitist motives to those who want to exercise the fundamental right of informed consent. The pro-fluoride group presents a “false dilemma.” By this I mean that an end to public water fluoridation would not deny fluoride to people. It will remain readily available in bottled water, toothpaste, mouthwashes, and supplements — unless the FDA takes the next step and bans all manufacture of fluoride supplements, for their lack of safety and effectiveness.
As we opponents have often said, notable voices in the civil rights movement — Andrew Young; the Revs. Gerald Durley, Alveda King and William Owens; and the League of United Latin American Citizens have all opposed public water fluoridation. They cite, among other things, its disproportionate harm to minority groups, among whom poor nutrition, diabetes and kidney disease are more prevalent. (These are all conditions likely to exacerbate the negative effects of fluoride.) In addition, national data show that African Americans suffer disproportionately higher rates of dental fluorosis.
Fear Mongering and False Logic by Dentists
Dr. Dick brings the dentists’ case to a close with a potent mixture of fear mongering and dubious logic. “We’re in an era of quote-unquote health care reform,” he says. “We’re talking about reducing the need for health care and reduced spending on health care.
“I can’t think of anything that’s more proven, healthy, safe, cost-effective than water fluoridation. If this measure is taken and fluoride is removed from our water, my goodness, we’re going to step back in time; health care costs are going to escalate from your pockets. And my meant-to-be-humorous line is the consequences of removing fluoride from our water is going to go right from your mouths to your dentist’s pocketbook.
“That’s not something we need to do.”
In conclusion, I hope the material above, supported by the documentation in the references below, demonstrates that the case against fluoridation is a solid one. Meanwhile the fight goes on. Your support and constructive criticisms are welcome. Feel free to contact me:
Jack Crowther: email, jac[email protected]; phone, 802-775-1182.
NOTES FOR FACT 1: “MOST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES DO NOT FLUORIDATE THEIR WATER”
1) See data at: www.fluoridealert.org/content/bfs-2012/
2) See data at: www.fluoridealert.org/content/water_europe/
3) For data on the number of countries in Europe that allow fluoridated salt, see: Gotzfried F. (2006). Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed 116: 371–75. Unlike water fluoridation (which applies fluoride to an entire water supply), salt fluoridation in Europe is limited to household salt that people have the option to purchase. In two of the five European countries that allow salt fluoridation, only 6% to 10% of household salt is actually fluoridated). Salt fluoridation is thus a far less intrusive application of fluoride than water fluoridation.
NOTES FOR FACT 2: FLUORIDATED COUNTRIES DO NOT HAVE LESS TOOTH DECAY THAN NON-FLUORIDATED COUNTRIES
4) See extensive compilation of published research and data at: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/caries01/
5) World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Education, Training, and Research in Oral Health, Malmö University, Sweden. Data available at http://www.mah.se/CAPP/ (accessed on March 30, 2013).
NOTES FOR FACT 3: FLUORIDE AFFECTS MANY TISSUES IN THE BODY BESIDES THE TEETH
6) A representative example of this viewpoint was expressed by Dr. Robert Kehoe in 1957: “The question of the public safety of fluoridation is non-existent from the viewpoint of medical science.”
7) In a January 2008 article published in Scientific American, Dr. Doull was quoted as saying: “[W]e’ve gone with the status quo regarding fluoride for many years—for too long, really—and now we need to take a fresh look. In the scientific community, people tend to think this is settled. I mean, when the U.S. surgeon general comes out and says this is one of the 10 greatest achievements of the 20th century, that’s a hard hurdle to get over. But when we looked at the studies that have been done, we found that many of these questions are unsettled and we have much less information than we should, considering how long this has been going on. I think that’s why fluoridation is still being challenged so many years after it began.” See: www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/nrc/panelists/
8) National Research Council. (2006). Fluoride in drinking water: a scientific review of EPA’s standards. National Academies Press, Washington D.C. Available online at: www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11571
9) See excerpts of NAS’s findings at: www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/nrc/ findings/ 10) See excerpts of NAS’s recommendations at: www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/nrc/recommendations/
NOTES FOR FACT #4: FLUORIDATION IS NOT A “NATURAL” PROCESS
11) Most fresh surface waters (e.g., lakes/streams) contain very little fluoride. When fluoride is obtained from deep ground water supplies, however, fluoride contamination can become a significant problem. See infra note 13.
12) High levels of naturally occurring fluorides have wreaked havoc on tens of millions of people’s health around the world, particularly in developing countries where water shortages force many rural communities to obtain water from deep in the ground. Consumption of fluoride-laden well water causes serious health ailments, including tooth loss, bone disease, ulcers, brain damage, heart disease, and thyroid disease. See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/health/. Because of this, international organizations like UNICEF assist developing nations in finding ways of removing fluoride from the water. For a review by UNICEF on the worldwide scope of fluoride poisoning, see: www.fluoridealert.org/uploads/UNICEF-1999.pdf
13) In Canada, the average level of fluoride in fresh surface water is just 0.05 ppm, which is 14 to 24 times less fluoride than added to water in fluoridation programs. See: Environment Canada. (1993). Inorganic Fluorides: Priority Substances List Assessment Report. Government of Canada, Ottawa. p. 14. Fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, and eggs contain even lower levels of fluoride (unless they’re sprayed with fluoride pesticides). See: www.fluoridealert.org/content/fresh_foods/. In the rare circumstance where rivers or ponds contain the same level of fluoride that is added to tap water, salmon and frogs have been found to suffer serious harm, including bone disease, changes in behavior, and increased mortality. See: Shaw SD, et al. (2012). Journal of Zoo & Wildlife Medicine 43(3):549-65; Damkaer DM, Dey DB. (1989). North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 9: 154-162.
14) As noted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized, and water authorities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them.” See: www.fluoridealert.org/uploads/hanmer1983.pdf.
15) In 20th century, fluoride pollution caused more harm to livestock than any other pollutant. In Polk County, Florida (the capital of America’s phosphate industry), cattle downwind of the phosphate industry suffered “mass fluoride poisoning.” Between 1953 and 1960, “the cattle population dropped 30,000 head,” and “an estimated 150,000 acres of cattle land were abandoned.” As one farmer explained, “Around 1953 we noticed a change in our cattle... We watched our cattle become gaunt and starved, their legs became deformed; they lost their teeth. Reproduction fell off and when a cow did have a calf, it was also affected by this malady or was a stillborn.” For discussion and documentation, see: www.fluoridealert.org/articles/phosphate01/
16) See: Weng C, et al. (2000). Treatment chemicals contribute to arsenic levels. Opflow (AWWA), October, p. 6-7. Available at: http://www.fluoridealert.org/uploads/op ow-2000.pdf
17) Hirzy JW, et al. (2013). Environ. Sci. Policy http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2013.01.007. On the lead/neurotoxic risk, see: Coplan MJ, et al. (2007). Neurotoxicology 28(5):1032-42; Maas RP, et al. (2007). Neurotoxicology 28(5):1023-31.
NOTES FOR FACT #5: 40% OF AMERICAN TEENAGERS SHOW VISIBLE SIGNS OF FLUORIDE OVER-EXPOSURE.
18) Beltran-Aguilar ED, et al. (2010). Prevalence and Severity of Dental Fluorosis in the United States, 1999–2004. NCHS Data Brief No. 53.
19) For photographs and discussion, see: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/ fluorosis/
20) Spzunar SM, Burt BA. (1988). J. Dent. Res. 67(5):802-06; Hodge HC. (1950). J. Am. Dent. Assoc. 40:436-39.
21) See: www. uoridealert.org/studies/dental_fluorosis01/
22) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/f-toothpaste/
23) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/processed/
24) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/f-pesticides/25) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/tea/
26) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/teflon-pans/
27) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/pharmaceuticals/
NOTES FOR FACT #6: FOR INFANTS, FLUORIDATED WATER PROVIDES NO BENEFITS, ONLY RISKS
28) Institute of Medicine. (1997). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. p. 302.
29) Ekstrand J, et al. (1981). British Medical Journal 283: 761-2.
30) In a May 15, 2012 letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, the CDC wrote: “We are unaware of data . . . about the additional protection from tooth decay that could result from [intakes greater than 10 micrograms/day of fluoride].” See: www.fluoridealert.org/uploads/cdc-2012.pdf
31) See: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/infant02/
32) See: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/infant01/
33) Choi AL, et al. (2012). Environmental Health Perspectives 120:1362-68.
34) For a discussion of these studies, see: www.fluoridealert.org/articles/iq-facts/. For a listing of all studies that have found an association between fluoride and reduced IQ, see: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/brain01/.
35) Dr. Philippe Grandjean, the senior scientist who authored the Harvard review, has stated that: “Chemical brain drain should not be disregarded. The average IQ deficit in children exposed to increased levels of fluoride in drinking water was found to correspond to about 7 points – a sizable difference. To which extent this risk applies to fluoridation in Wichita or Portland or elsewhere is uncertain, but definitely deserves concern.” See: www.braindrain.dk/2013/02/fluoridated-water-and-brains/.
NOTES FOR FACT #7: FLUORIDE SUPPLEMENTS HAVE NEVER BEEN APPROVED BY THE FDA
36) Under current fluoride supplementation guidelines, two-year-old children living in non-fluoridated areas are prescribed 0.25 mg of fluoride per day. This is the same amount of fluoride contained in just one 8 ounce glass of water fluoridated at 1 ppm. To learn more about current fluoride supplementation guidelines, see: Rozier RG, et al. (2010). J. Am. Dent. Assoc. 141(12):1480-89.
37) 21 U.S.C. § 355(a). Although an exception to this rule exists for drugs that were on the market prior to 1938, fluoride supplements did not enter the market until the 1950s. Accordingly, the “grandfather clause” exception does not apply to fluoride supplements. For a detailed discussion on this point, see: www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/fda/explanations/
38) To access FDA’s letters confirming this fact, see: www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/fda/not-approved/
39) The two fluoride supplements that FDA has rejected are Enziflur (a fluoride/vitamin combination) and prenatal fluoride supplements. See: www.fluoridealert.org/uploads/enziflur-1975.pdf and www. fluoridealert.org/articles/fda-1966/.
NOTES FOR FACT 8: FLUORIDE IS THE ONLY MEDICINE ADDED TO PUBLIC WATER
40) According to the NAS, “fluoride is no longer considered an essential factor for human growth and development.” See: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/essential-nutrient/
41) According to the FDA: “Fluoride, when used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or animal, is a drug that is subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.” See: www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/fda/drug/
42) In Germany, for example, “the argumentation of the Federal Ministry of Health against a general permission of fluoridation of drinking water is the problematic nature of compulsion medication.” See this and other statements from European authorities at: www.fluoridealert.org/content/europe-statements/.43) Under the principle of “informed consent,” the patient has the “right to self decision.” See: AMA Ethical Opinion 8.08. While the doctor has an “obligation . . . to present the medical facts accurately to the patient,” it is the patient (or the patient’s caregiver) who has the sole right to decide what medical treatments to use.
NOTES FOR FACT 9: SWALLOWING FLUORIDE PROVIDES LITTLE BENEFIT TO TEETH
44) Fejerskov O. (2004). Caries Research 38:184 (“The hypothesis was that increased intake of fluoride during tooth formation raises the fluoride concentration in enamel and hence increases acid resistance. As a consequence fluoride had to be taken systemically and artificial fluoridation of drinking waters became the ‘optimal’ solution.”).
45) For an extensive compilation of quotes from dental researchers discussing this consensus, see: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/caries04/
46) According to the CDC, “ fluoride prevents dental caries predominately after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.” Centers for Disease Control (1999). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 48: 933-40.
NOTES FOR FACT 10: DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITIES ARE THE MOST DISADVANTAGED BY FLUORIDE
47) In Maryland, 84% of dentists do not accept Medicaid patients. Similar rates exist in other states, including Alabama (82%), Colorado (79%), and Ohio (72%). As a result, most low-income children are not able to receive treatment from a dentist. See data and reports at: www.fluoridealert.org/content/dental-care/
48) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/ej/
49) Beltran-Aguilar ED et al. (2005). MMWR Surveillance Summaries 54(3): 1-44. For a discussion of other studies that have found racial disparities in fluorosis rates, see: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/dental_fluorosis02/
50) See: www.fluoridealert.org/issues/ej/statements/
51) For a compilation of reports, see: www.fluoridealert.org/studies/caries07/.
52) See: www.fluoridealert.org/news/cincinnatis-dental-crisis/
53) Allowing access to dental therapists represents an important strategy for expanding dental care services to underserved populations. Dental therapists are specially trained to provide dental care, such as tooth cleanings and fillings. According to a recent review, “the quality of technical care provided by dental therapists (within their scope of competency) was comparable to that of a dentist, and in some studies was judged to be superior.” Nash D, et al. (2012). A Review of the Global Literature on Dental Therapists. W.K. Kellogg Foundation. p. 6. Despite these findings, dental trade associations (such as the American Dental Association) are vigorously lobbying against efforts to allow dental therapists to serve underprivileged populations. See: Levine D. (2011). Why Are Dentists Opposing Expanded Dental Care? Available at: www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/ gov-why-are-dentists-opposing-expanded-dental-care.html
54) Ismail AI, et al. (2006). Severity of dental caries among African American children in Detroit. Presentation at ADEA/AADR/CADR Conference, March 11. Abstract available at: http://iadr.confex.com/iadr/2006Orld/techprogram/abstract_73168.htm
55) Albert DA, et al. (2002). Dental caries among disadvantaged 3- to 4-year-old children in northern Manhattan. Pediatric Dentistry 24:229-33.
56) Bridge to Healthy Smiles. Cook County Oral Health Crisis. Available at: http://www.bridgetohealthysmiles.com/ISDSBrochure.pdf
57) Bexar County Head Start Dental Screenings Program. See data at: www.fluoridealert.org/uploads/san_antonio_caries.pdf
58) Centers for Disease Control. (1999). Behavioral Risk factor Surveillance System.Data summarized at: http://drc.hhs.gov/report/4_3.htm 59) For a discussion of these tragic outcomes, see: Carrie Gann, Man Dies from Toothache, Couldn’t Afford Meds, ABC News, Sept. 11, 2011, and Laura Owings, Toothache Leads to Boy’s Death, ABC News, March 5, 2007.
Graph based on data from the U.N.'s World Health Organization shows the decline in tooth decay in recent years in both fluoridated (red line) and non-fluoridated (blue line) countries.
Photographs of dental fluorosis by
Dr. Hardy Limeback and Dr. Iain Pretty, et al.
“Mild,” and “moderate and severe” dental fluorosis, affect more than 12 percent (8.6% + 3.6%) of persons aged 6-39 in the U.S., according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004, the green bars. Blue bars represent earlier data (1986-87) of the National Institute of Dental Research.
Worldwide levels of tooth decay among 12-year-olds are shown on the map. Tooth decay levels (ranked from better to worse) are indicated by the colors green, blue, yellow, red. The bright red dots, added by the author, mark countries with more than half their populations on fluoridated water.
Source: WHO Oral Health
— Country/Area Profile Programme
Look for Our New Banner/Logo
Rutland Fluoride Action recently unveiled its new logo (the red circle image) and a banner, which appears on Jack's truck as a sign and on a banner at the Vermont Farmer's Food Center. We are a proud sponsor of the Food Center, consistent with its emphasis on pure food.
Norma Montaigne of Anything Graphic designed the logo and banner.
The following is the text of a letter to Rutland aldermanic president William Notte dated March 25:
Dear President Notte:
By this letter, I wish to challenge the authority of the Rutland commissioner of public works to fluoridate the water supply of the City of Rutland.
Authority to Fluoridate
During the past year’s discussion, it has frequently been stated that the authority to fluoridate the city water supply resides solely with the commissioner of public works, according to the City Charter.
The charter (Section 9-24.4) states that the commissioner “shall have the exclusive general management and supervision of the City water works and may make and enforce regulations regarding the use and control of water.” There is no mention of adding a medicine to the water.
In the ordinances as well, I find no authority to add a drug or medication to the water.
As the designation of fluoride is sometimes a matter for debate, I attach a copy of a letter from the Food and Drug Administration to a member of Congress showing the FDA considers fluoride placed in drinking water a drug.
[In lieu of including the three-page letter, here is relevant statement: "Fluoride, when used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or plrevention of disease in man or animal, is a drug that is subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulaltion. Those interested in the complete letter can find it here: http://www.fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/fda-2000a.pdf ]
Surely medicating the population of Rutland through its water supply is a big step beyond “management and supervision of the City water works.”
I would also like to point out the following: Section 5350 of the city ordinances states, “No sewage or polluted liquid of any kind shall be discharged or allowed to flow into any reservoir or watercourse, or beneath the surface of the ground in the watershed . . .”
Rutland’s fluoridating agent, fluorosilicic acid is a highly caustic liquid that would be considered hazardous waste if the fertilizer plant in Wyoming that produced it were to try to dispose of it in the environment. In other words, through a liberal interpretation of the charter the commissioner is being allowed to put directly into our water what the ordinance prohibits him or anyone else from putting into Mendon Brook.
This leads me to a second issue.
Based on the reasoning above, I believe that the addition of fluoride to the city water supply amounts to “playing doctor,” an activity that is fraught with liability. I say “playing” because no doctor would do what Rutland is doing.
Rutland is prescribing a drug to its citizens. These are “patients” it has never met and whose medical histories it has not examined. The city is effectively saying to those patients, “Take as much as you like of this drug (fluoride), and take it for the rest of your life, because some people need it, even if you don’t. Residents have no choice in the matter, other than to purchase water without fluoride at a cost of about $1 per gallon or more.
No doctor could do what the city is doing.
Though dentists and health officials have insisted that fluoridation is completely safe, current, reputable science points to known or likely side effects, including dental fluorosis and harm to the kidneys, the skeleton, the thyroid gland and the endocrine system. Reputable studies also suggest risks to infants whose brains are in the crucial early stages of development.
This brings us to the question: Are Rutland and its taxpayers liable for harm that may be shown to result from drinking fluoridated water? At a time when the city is going to special lengths to avoid liability claims for injury, does it make sense to be playing at the practice of medicine? Does the city want to risk another million dollar settlement from negligent performance of its functions or for actions it has no authority to perform?
Please note that among the dentists and public health proponents strongly supporting fluoridation in advance of the recent town meeting, none accepted responsibility for harm that might result.
For the reasons cited above, I request that the Board of Aldermen re-examine the commissioner’s authority to fluoridate the water supply and ask, moreover, whether any arm of local government has that authority.
Further, even if the city or its agents have the legal authority to fluoridate the water supply, does the inherent liability in doing so make it wise?
Finally, I request that until the above questions are answered the city not reorder fluoride. Its handling poses a hazard to our employees, and its disposal would incur unnecessary costs.
Enclosure: FDA letter
Copies to: Members of the Board of Aldermen
Mayor Christopher Louras
For the Record: Harry Chen’s Errors and Omissions
By JACK CROWTHER
(Published April 28, 2016, in the Rutland Herald)
The recent vote by a 61-39 percent margin to continue fluoridation in Rutland City was decisive, though lacking any legal force. It was simply advisory, as we all knew beforehand.
I prefer to view the outcome more as a reflection of what the voters didn’t know than what they wanted.
Unfortunately, what the voters didn’t know was aided by a strong propaganda campaign by the local and state dental profession and the state Department of Health. In addition, media coverage of the issue reinforced the fairytale the professionals were telling.
There is little doubt that the mailings, television and radio initiatives, dental office handouts, public statements and other efforts of the fluoride proponents helped turn the tide in favor of fluoridation, whatever the cost to scientific truth.
The best excuse one might offer for the misfeasance of health professionals and the media is probably ignorance of the facts and unwarranted trust in authority. In some cases, one suspects, the sins were deliberate. In still others, the pressure to conform with policy from above, that is, the chains of command and control in the American Dental Association and public health bureaucracy, needs to be part of our understanding, if not acceptance.
Let us focus for the moment on the state Department of Health, in particular, how the head of that agency, Commissioner Harry Chen, gave credibility to the pro-fluoridation cause, while failing to provide honest, science-based information to the public that employs him.
“A Widely Admired Physician”
The Rutland Herald has referred to Dr. Chen as “a widely admired physician.” That is doubtless true. It is also a badge of distinction that tends to validate anything he says about the health-connected subject of fluoridation, whether it is true and informed or not.
The trust-the-doctor inclination is central the problem with the whole fluoridation discussion. Since the beginning of fluoridation back in 1945, proponents have used the authority of medical and dental professionals, and the public’s inherent trust in them, to promote fluoridation. Honest science got shoved aside, because science proved far more ambivalent on the matter of fluoride’s safety and effectiveness than the testimony of doctors and dentists.
The doctors and dentists jumped on the fluoride bandwagon in the beginning and have been loyal acolytes ever since. Dissenters from within the ranks have often faced scorn and repudiation.
Dr. Chen wrote an op-ed piece for the Rutland Herald that ran Feb. 20. It is a beautiful mix of propaganda and bureaucratic homage to the pro-fluoridation policies of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Federal Thumb
(Be aware that a huge percentage of Vermont government revenue comes from the federal government — about 36 percent of the state’s 2015 Fiscal Year budget. A similar level of federal dollars shows up in the state public health budget, with many grants listed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration.)
But the freedom or lack of freedom of the state Health Department from the pressure of the federal thumb is fodder for another day. For now, let’s consider Chen’s inaccuracies, smokescreens and tricks of language, as presented in his Feb. 20 Rutland Herald op-ed.
“Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that works to strengthen tooth enamel,” Chen assures us. That’s inaccurate or deceiving on two counts. Fluoride does occur naturally in minerals such as cryolite, but what we fluoridate most municipal water systems with (including Rutland’s) is fluorosilicic acid, a hazardous waste byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry.
The “natural mineral” phrase is a nifty switch by the commissioner, evidently designed to make it sound healthful, like, say, calcium or iron. The switch from hazardous waste to “natural mineral” was also widely used by dentists in their fluoride sales pitch. A better guide to what nature thinks about fluoride is the very low level that is delivered in mothers’ milk (0.004 parts per million). Mothers’ milk protects the baby from fluoride. Water fluoridation at .7 parts per million (the level recommended by the U.S. government) recklessly removes that protection.
“Strengthens tooth enamel”? Not really. Even the CDC, the federal government’s ardent advocate of fluoridation and the subsidizer of Vermont oral health programs, says the primary benefit of fluoride is topical. That means the benefit is from fluoride acting on the surface of the teeth. It doesn’t strengthen enamel but disrupts the chemistry of decay on the surface of the teeth.
To quote the CDC: “The prevalence of dental caries [tooth decay] in a population is not inversely related to the concentration of fluoride in [tooth] enamel, and a higher concentration of enamel fluoride is not necessarily more efficacious in preventing dental caries.”
A quick rundown of some other Chen fallacies — all in the same op-ed —includes the following:
— Fluoride is “not a drug.” Sorry, Dr. Chen, the Food and Drug Administration says otherwise. They should know what a drug is.
— Fluoride “is not a byproduct of the fertilizer industry, as some opponents claim,” Chen writes. Well it certainly is. You may want to check out www.simplot.com, the website of Simplot Phosphates, which shipped Rutland its last batch of fluorosilicic acid. Fluorosilicic acid results from the production of that fertilizer and therefore fits the definition of a byproduct.
By the way, Simplot calls itself “A company devoted to the production of phosphate fertilizer.” Chen may be denying that fertilizer is a byproduct on the grounds that it is a “product,” a lame distinction.
— Fluoridation is “much like” fortifying milk with Vitamin D, Chen would have us believe. The dentists love this bit of smoke and mirrors as well. But there’s a big difference. Vitamin D is a nutrient; fluoride is not, and intake of milk is easier to control than intake of water.
Another important difference is that the margin of safety — the difference between a recommended dose and a hazardous dose — is much larger for Vitamin D than for fluoride. In other words, it’s easier to overdose on fluoride.
“Practicing Fluoridation” and Actual Fluoridation
— “Nearly all developed countries practice fluoridation . . .,” Chen says, using another favorite ploy of the dentists and one that seduced the Rutland Herald as well. Ninety-seven percent of Western Europe is unfluoridated. If there is any doubt what we opponents mean by that, we mean that the public water supplies are unfluoridated. But Chen, the dentists, and the Herald shamelessly equate fluoridation with adding fluoride to salt or milk. Even so, only a minority of European countries fluoridate their salt or milk. Perhaps Chen is including fluoridated toothpaste in his definition.
The point here, which hardly needs explaining, is that putting fluoride
in the water supply subjects everyone to an uncontrolled dose, without informed consent. Fluoride has its uses, such as in toothpaste, but forced ingestion of it through the water supply is unethical and dangerous. Blurring the distinction between voluntary and compulsory use is dishonest.
To be clear, ingestion of salt or milk is voluntary and easy to control. And one can select a non-fluoridated product.
Ignoring the Best Science
Dr. Chen’s piece reflects more of a political agenda than honest science. Elsewhere he calmly tells us that fluoridation is safe according to the best available science and that there is “no convincing scientific evidence of “any potential adverse health effect or systemic disorder . . .”
This is both laughable and alarming, coming as it does from the state’s top health expert. While much of the science on fluoride risks remains tentative, those risks certainly had the attention of the National Research Council’s Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water, which outlined those risks in 2006.
The NRC, part of the National Academies of Science, began with a Congressional Charter in 1863, under Lincoln, to independently advise the government on matters of science. Its members include more than 300 Nobel laureates. Clearly it’s one of the top scientific authorities in the country.
The NRC committee recommended lowering the Environmental Protection Agency’s Maximum Contaminant Level Goal for fluoride, saying the current MCLG is not protective of human health.
Though the NRC study did not pass judgment on public water fluoridation generally (that was not its assignment) it made clear its concern for a variety of fluoride safety issues and the need for more research.
Unfortunately, the public health authorities and the dental profession have dodged the warnings of the NRC panel and continued on their merry way. And that merry way includes either downplaying or completely ignoring the more than 300 animal and human studies that indicate that fluoride is neurotoxic. It is ironic that at a time when regulatory authorities are spending millions trying to limit exposure of children to lead because it is neurotoxic, they would turn a blind eye to the addition of neurotoxic fluoride to the public water supply.
Public water fluoridation has never been more than a grand-scale experiment on human subjects without adequate precautions and respect for informed consent. That the Vermont Department of Health and its commissioner would be part this ongoing mistake is wrong.
(Acknowledgement is given to Paul Connett, PhD, of Binghamton, N.Y., for reviewing this article and making suggestions.)
After a year of work, it's showtime!
On Tuesday, March 1, Town Meeting Day, Rutland City
will vote on the advisory question, "Shall the
commissioner of public works fluoridate the public water supply of Rutland?"
It is our hope that a strong NO vote will convince Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey
Wennberg to discontinue this outmoded, unsafe and unethical practice.
Be sure to vote on Advisory Article 1! It is the only advisory issue on the ballot.
Statement of Purpose
Rutland Fluoride Action was started on March 21, 2015, by Jack Crowther, a Rutland City resident since 1968.
The purpose of RFA is raise awareness of the water fluoridation issue in Rutland City and areas of Rutland Town that use city water, with the goal of removing fluoridation from the water, hopefully within a year's time.
My motivation for getting involved in this issue can be summarized with three main points:
1. Fluoridation of the public water supply is an outmoded means of combatting tooth decay and has too many risks.
2. Fluoridation goes against two basic principles of health care: the informed consent of the patient and the standard practice of prescribing a specific dose of a drug to a specific person.
3. The effects of fluoridation, from widespread and documented dental fluorosis (spotting, staining and pitting of the teeth) to risks involving brain development, brittle bones, thyroid disruption and other harm, all supported by scientific studies, make water fluoridation an unwise public policy.
Plan of Action
My goal at this time (3/22/15) is to compile a list of those who live or work in Rutland who support the above point of view and will say so publicly. By publicizing the list here, on the Join Up to Stop Fluoridation page, I hope to influence the critical decision makers and the general population to end fluoridation. It may take a referendum vote. I think it can be done in a year or two.
With the above plan in mind, I hope Rutland Fluoride Action can help to educate local residents on fluoridation and eventually raise a mighty chorus to STOP FLUORIDATION OF CITY WATER.
I hope others will join me in this effort. I plan to add information to this website and expand the Plan of Action as time and the assistance of others permit. If you want to join this effort or have questions, feel free to email me at jack_cr3 AT yahoo.com or call my cell phone at 558-4923. (I'm spelling out the @ symbol to avoid spam.)