When I first heard about the City Council’s plan to fluoridate the Bull Run drinking water during the summer of 2012, I was like, what’s the big deal? In fact I was somewhat surprised it wasn’t already fluoridated; that’s how off-my-radar this issue was for me. But then I talked to a friend of mine who I’ve known for some time who happens to be a scientist in the water field. Due to this person’s input I began doing my own research on the topic.
Wow! Anyone who thinks that the science on water fluoridation is a done-deal simply has their eyes closed and mind shut! I urge anyone who is concerned about the long-term health of the community to do their own research on the topic. In the course of my research I increasingly could not side-step the red-flags that just kept popping up. At first I was surprised, then I was shocked, and then slowly my shock turned to anger. Why? Because over the course of weeks and months into my research I could find no scientific evidence of the efficacy of water fluoridation in reducing tooth decay! And while you may find that a bold statement, given what organizations support this practice, it actually gets even worse than that! The little research that has been done regarding the safety of water fluoridation is increasingly showing stronger and stronger links to long term adverse health effects!
As an aside, you may be interested to know that I have a masters degree in engineering and work in that field. I.e. I have extensive training and experience in the area of statistical analysis, sample sizes, standard deviations, etc. Anyone can do a study, but if you’re going to use a study for evidence in setting public policy, well it needs to done correctly. That means using the Scientific Method and statistical analysis to objectively determine if your study’s results are statistically significant, or if they’re just noise in your measurements.
You will find plenty (hundreds) of studies touting the efficacy of fluoridation, unfortunately I could not find any that used scientific methods to determine their conclusion. And in the ultimate culmination of all these studies, the supposed/suggested efficacy rate (something like 0.2 caries per child reduction) is literally in the noise of their measurements! In fact of the pro-fluoride studies I looked at, the methodologies used were almost laughable. They reminded me of the studies the tobacco companies used to put out as “evidence” that smoking tobacco did not cause any harm. And the studies that the chemical companies used to publish to vindicate DDT, or Agent Orange, or… And they reminded me of the studies the asbestos companies used to do that showed there was no long term health issues tied to asbestos exposure. I don’t know, you guys see a trend here? Oh wait, let’s not forget how we used to have lead (Pb) in our paint and gasoline too.
Ultimately the pro-fluoride argument comes down to, “Trust us, we (CDC, ADA, etc.) know more about this than you, and don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain pulling those levers (i.e. the aforementioned red-flags) because they’re not important…”
Timeline: Late Summer 2012 in Portland OR.
Unbeknownst to the citizens of Portland there was a plot going on for many months beginning last year (2011). Heavy lobbying was happening behind closed doors to get the Portland City Council to initiate, and vote in favor of, fluoridating the pristine Bull Run water that the Portland Metro area enjoys. Water commissioner Randy Leonard and Mayor Sam Adams led the way; neither was seeking re-election in the Fall 2012 election.
Then in August 2012, they announced to the public that the City Council was going to vote on whether to fluoridate the water; w/o public discussion, input, or a public vote. When the Water Dept’s initial implementation estimate of several years didn’t satisfy Leonard, he prompted his boys to take another look and they whittled the estimate down to a year and a half; approximately early 2014. At every stage Leonard and company have fast-tracked this process and limited public input.
The initial capital cost in money was supposed to be around $5 million and another $500,000 annually to maintain, but who’s counting when we already enjoy some of the highest water/sewer rates in the nation and the drunken sailors that run the Water Dept seem determined to bankrupt the city? But that cost is minute compared to the damage this action would cause the citizenry who will drink this water.
Why Water Fluoridation Now?
Portland has voted this issue down 3X previously. Why the sudden urgency? Why the closed door negotiations for months with the pro-fluoridation lobby before going public? At the one city council meeting where this was discussed, why did Leonard allow 200 pro-fluoridation people to testify un-abated w/o equal time for rebuttal testimony? Why the reluctance for a public and scientific discussion on the topic? Well because Randy Leonard knows better than the whole of his constituency; he said as much.
In my experience public policy is enacted by primarily 3 mechanisms:
- A politician comes up with a great idea to benefit his constituency and works to gain consensus on the topic and then working to make it happen. This almost never happens.
- The constituency wants something to change; gains consensus in the community and then pressures the politicians to act. This sometimes happens.
- A special interest group, which will profit from a policy change, secures private audiences with our representatives and coerces them in a variety of ways; campaign contributions, promises of consulting jobs when they retire from politics, etc. Unfortunately this is how most policy is set today.
FYI: Mark Wiener is a local political consultant, who has represented council members Leonard, Adams, and Saltzman, was secured by the pro-fluoride lobby last year (2011), and now this. Cause and effect?
- Water fluoridation is mass medication w/o patient consent or dose control. No doctor in this, or most, countries is allowed to do that.
- There is NO liability for any possible consequences or harm caused by water fluoridation. The EPA, CDC, FDA, and NSF claim no liability for water fluoridation programs.
- What about fringe populations who have no safe tolerance for fluoride? What are they supposed to do? Mel Rader of Upstream Public Health, working on the pro-fluoride campaign, contends there are no such people. Even though he’s confronted by them at neighborhood meetings, and they tell Mel, “I have MDs and specialist doctors telling me there is no safe level of fluoride exposure for me.” He doesn’t bend, and responds, “our studies show that fluoride is safe for the entire population..” Really Mel? Then why does even the CDC recommend not to use fluoridated water to make baby formula? Mel proclaims that this is not true; fluoridated water is indeed safe for all, even babies! And the pro-fluoride folks often say flippantly, “if you don’t want fluoride, just filter it out!” Filters that remove fluoride are prohibitively costly. Reverse Osmosis is the most effective way to remove fluoride, but even it doesn’t remove it all. And it won’t double your water bill, it will increase it by a factor of 4x to 20x! For those of you who don’t live in Portland, you may not know the average household already pays over $100 a month for water; can you imagine $2000 monthly water bill? I don’t know many who can afford that, certainly not the poor people this policy is supposedly targeted for! What are poor people supposed to do for fluoride-free baby formula (as even the CDC recommends)? “They can use bottled water” say the pro-fluoride clan.. Really? Umm, remember they’re poor?!
Is Fluoridating the Water Safe and Beneficial for Everyone?
After spending many months researching this topic myself, and speaking with people who have looked at this for years, I am convinced the answer is no on both counts.
The CDC admits that the efficacy of fluoride is primarily topical, so why do we need it to take it systemically by ingesting it? Think about it dog! By that logic you should chug some Coppertone on your way to the beach!
The pro-fluoride camp insists the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation is proven by decades of scientific studies and that the folks against fluoride are using junk science and scare tactics to make people afraid of it. But in my research, I have found that actually the opposite is true. And the more I researched, the more convinced I became of that conclusion. On the pro-fluoride side I could not find any studies using double blind tests or trials and ones that were independently peer-reviewed were also rare. But what was very telling to me was the pro-side’s propensity to blatantly lie and spin their message. For example, I wish I had a nickle for every time one of these guys told me the fluoride that would be going in the water was pharma grade. I actually had people who worked in dental offices tell me so. I don’t which is scarier; that they might lie about this, or that they might be that misinformed! FYI: It’s a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.
This is what CDC says in summary about the 2006 NRC (National Research Council) report:
In 2006, the NRC stated in this report that in developing regulatory standards for high levels of fluoride in drinking water, three adverse health effects warranted consideration: severe enamel (dental) fluorosis from exposure to these high levels between birth and 8 years of age, risk of bone fractures, and severe forms of skeletal fluorosis (a rare condition in the United States) after lifetime exposure.
Note the 2006 NRC report says that up to 15% of kids will experience fluorosis at concentrations of 2mg/L; tough for them I guess since this is a permanent condition that requires cosmetic dentistry to cover up (not repair). BTW: the current fluorosis rates in Portland are already over 40%; that’s w/o fluoridated water in the main Portland water system.
NOTE: that EPA recommended concentration of water fluoridation was 4mg/L (equiv to 4 ppm) up until the 1980s. Then it was decreased to 2 mg/L (50% reduction) and then halved again to the current 0.7 mg/L (an additional reduction of 65%). This is an overall reduction of 82.5% in the last few decades.
People at the lower edge of the Bell curve of the population, those with sensitivities to fluoride, will have the biggest problems as this will impose a major hardship for them.
Here’s an interesting article showing increased fluoride in water only increases the incidence of fluorosis w/o decreasing cavities.
Starting to ramble on so let’s cut to it; here’s my top ten list:
Top 10 Reasons to Vote NO on Water Fluoridation in May 2013: Ballot Measure 26-151
- The Pro-Fluoridation folks (e.g. “Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland” and ADA) want you to believe that adding fluoridation chemicals to our pure Bull-Run drinking water is a safe and effective way to reduce tooth decay, especially in young kids. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth! While the Pro-Fluoride people have hired fancy high priced PR firms (e.g. Mark Weiner) to spin their message, the No-on-Fluoride movement (e.g. Clean Water Portland) is a true grass roots organization of concerned citizens, which includes scientists and engineers, who have done the research into this highly politicized topic and found that water fluoridation is neither safe or effective.
- The Pro-Fluoridation folks have actually lied to people, telling them that the added chemicals are medical grade. But in fact it is fluorosilicic acid, an industrial waste by-product of the fertilizer industry 1. Contained within this waste product are other contaminants like lead and arsenic, of which there are no safe levels. It would be illegal for industry to dispose of this waste product in the environment; they would have to spend millions of dollars to legally dispose of it at toxic waste dumps, yet instead they are allowed to sell it to municipalities for adding it to their drinking water?!
- The Pro-Fluoridation groups will cite hundreds of studies that supposedly support the practice; unfortunately all of them were sponsored by Pro-Fluoridation vested interests and none were done using proper scientific methods like double blind tests, the use of control groups, and actually measuring the fluoride dosage the people received in the test by measuring the fluoride in their urine. More recent un-biased studies show connections between the practice of water fluoridation and increased risks of tooth and bone fluorosis, thyroid dysfunction, neurological damage, lowering of IQ, and increased risk of various cancers, especially osteosarcoma, a bone cancer.
- On the topic of fluorosis, The Pro-Fluoridation group actually said this: “Dental fluorosis found in the U.S. consists of barely noticeable white dots or streaks on the teeth. It is determined that it has no negative health effects, and it likely associated with stronger teeth, that are more resistant to decay.” 3 Wow! Even more unbelievable is Dr. Phil Wu, a local Kaiser pediatrician, who is speaking publicly for “Healthy Kids” said, “there are no cases of fluorosis other than mild cases and it actually strengthens the teeth.” In fact dental fluorosis is a permanent condition that mottles the teeth, is only covered up by expensive cosmetic dental procedures (is this why the ADA likes fluoridation?), and can be very unsightly causing emotional trauma to the victim, and actually weakens the teeth. Moreover, it is an indicator of fluoride poisoning! Dental fluorosis rates are already high in this country; i.e. we’re already getting too much fluoride in our environment! Fluorosis changes the teeth actually making them more brittle and subject to fracture. 2
- The CDC actually has admitted that the primary effectiveness of fluoride is topical (when you apply it to your teeth via toothpaste). So why are they promoting ingesting it systemically? By that logic you should swallow sun-screen lotion before going to the beach to prevent sun-burn!?
- The fluoride pushers try to say fluoride is a natural mineral and not a medication; “Fluoride is a natural mineral..“ “Fluoride is not a medication.“ 3 But again, double-speak and twisted interpretations rule the day. There is nothing natural about what they plan to put in your water; see point 2 above. Also this infers your body requires fluoride as a nutrient but there is no biological process in your body that needs, or is enhanced by it; absolutely none! And according to the Oxford dictionary, a medicine is “a compound or preparation used for the treatment or prevention of disease”.4 Why doesn’t fluoride fit this category?
- Why is point 6 so important? Because of the ethical issues involved here; call this what it is: Mass Medication w/o Patient Advised Consent! In 1914 the New York Court of Appeals said, “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body”…5. This principle has since become common law. But yet we, the people, have no individual say when it comes to medicating our drinking water? What about people with renal disease and others who are very sensitive to fluoride, whose doctors have told them they must not ingest any fluoride? What about infants, who even the CDC says, should not ingest fluoridated water? What are people too poor to afford bottled water or very expensive filtering systems (which are only partially effective at removing fluoride from their water) supposed to do? Why are all of our rights not being considered here?
- There is NO responsibility or liability for water fluoridation. The EPA, CDC, FDA, and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) claim no liability; no one is responsible for any adverse health effects (including dental fluorosis) incurred by the public from water fluoridation! The NSF is responsible for regulating drinking water fluoridation yet it says this on the topic; “NSF shall not be responsible to anyone for the use of or reliance upon this Standard by anyone. NSF shall not incur any obligation or liability for damages, including consequential damages, arising out of or in connection with the use, interpretation of, or reliance upon this Standard.” 6
- “Healthy Kids” uses contorted statistics to make their argument for a “dental health crisis” in Portland by using Oregon state statistics when they want to emphasize how bad kids teeth are. But this includes rural kids, outside of the Portland area, who have a much higher incidence of tooth decay. Tooth decay rates in Portland are actually quite good when compared to other comparable communities. 7
- The EPA’s own scientists and engineers don’t want fluoridated water and have publicly stated that fact! 8
There are many many more reasons to vote NO on water fluoridation (26-151). For more information:
Various Informative Articles:
Blatant misuse of the term “science” in article but great rebuttals; especially from ShowMeTheScience!
Superb article that was in the PSU paper in Fall of 2012
Best youtube I’ve seen on the whole sordid saga; please watch this!
‘Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland’ & The Portland Fluoride Saga
and transcript of above:
Dr. Paul Connett is a recognized authority on the topic; these are only a few of his youtubes
1 “The most commonly used additives are silicofluorides, not the fluoride salts used in dental products (such as sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride). Silicofluorides are one of the by-products from the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers.” National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences: Fluoride in Drinking Water, A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards (2006)
ADA: American Dental Association
CDC: Centers for Disease Control
EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
FDA: Food and Drug Administration
NSF: National Sanitation Foundation