Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a reduction in allowable fluoride levels in U.S. drinking water:
HHS’ proposed recommendation of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water replaces the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams. This updated recommendation is based on recent EPA and HHS scientific assessments to balance the benefits of preventing tooth decay while limiting any unwanted health effects.
As AP notes:
A scientific report five years ago said that people who consume a lifetime of too much fluoride — an amount over EPA’s limit of 4 milligrams — can lead to crippling bone abnormalities and brittleness.
That and other research issued Friday by the EPA about health effects of fluoride are sure to re-energize groups that still oppose adding it to water supplies.
In March, 2006, the National Academy of Sciences released a report recommending that the EPA lower its maximum standard for fluoride in drinking water to below 4 milligrams. The report warned severe fluorosis could occur at 2 milligrams. Also, a majority of the report’s authors said a lifetime of drinking water with fluoride at 4 milligrams or higher could raise the risk of broken bones.
Late last year, lawyers for the Fluoride Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, and Environmental Working Group threatened legal action if the EPA did not lower its ceiling on fluoride.
In Europe, fluoride is rarely added to water supplies. In Britain, only about 10 percent of the population has fluoridated water. It’s been a controversial issue there, with critics arguing people shouldn’t be forced to have “medical treatment” forced on them.
Here is the 2006 National Academy of Science report discussed above. The report reviews the scientific studies which have been performed on fluoride, and concludes:
It is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and the body by direct and indirect means. (bottom of page 222).
The NAS report also notes that fluoride may actually impair intelligence, and that more testing should be done in this regard.
Indeed, studies from around the world continue to find that exposure to sodium fluoride – especially in the very young – lowers IQ. See this and this. The same is true for rats exposed to fluoride. See this and this. And see the studies listed here.
Dr. Vyvyan Howard – a PhD fetal pathologist, who is a professor of developmental toxico-pathology at the University of Liverpool and University of Ulster, president of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment and former president of the Royal Microscopical Society and the International Society for Stereology, and general editor of the Journal of Microscopy – said in a 2008 Canadian television interview (short, worthwhile video at the link) that studies done in several countries show that children’s IQ are likely to be lower in high natural water fluoride areas.
He said that these studies are plausible because fluoride is known to affect the thyroid hormone which affects intelligence and fluoride is also a known neurotoxicant. Such studies have not been conducted in countries that artificially fluoridate the water such as the US, UK and Canada, but should be, he said.
And as the International Business Times noted last month on the newest Chinese study on fluoride:
Exposure to fluoride may lower children’s intelligence, says a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Fluoride is added to 70 percent of U.S. public drinking water supplies.
About 28 percent of the children in the low-fluoride area scored as bright, normal or higher intelligence compared to only 8 percent in the “high” fluoride area of Wamaio.
In the high-fluoride city, 15 percent had scores indicating mental retardation and only 6 percent in the low-fluoride city. The authors of the study eliminated both lead exposure and iodine deficiency as possible causes for the lowered IQs.
One scientist – Jennifer Luke – alleged in a 2001 scientific article that fluoride accumulates in the brain (specifically, in the structure of the pineal gland) more than it accumulates in our bones. In other words, she implies that fluoride may accumulate more in the brain than in the teeth, doing more harm than good (here’s Luke’s 1997 PhD dissertation on the topic.)
The 2006 National Academy of Sciences report corroborates some of Luke’s allegations:
As with other calcifying tissues, the pineal gland can accumulate fluoride (Luke 1997, 2001). Fluoride has been shown to be present in the pineal glands of older people (14-875 mg of fluoride per kg of gland in persons aged 72-100 years), with the fluoride concentrations being positively related to the calcium concentrations in the pineal gland, but not to the bone fluoride, suggesting that pineal fluoride is not necessarily a function of cumulative fluoride exposure of the individual (Luke 1997, 2001). Fluoride has not been measured in the pineal glands of children or young adults, nor has there been any investigation of the relationship between pineal fluoride concentrations and either recent or cumulative fluoride intakes.
Donald Miller – cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington – alleges:
Fluoride disrupts enzymes (by altering their hydrogen bonds) and prevents them from doing their job of making proteins, collagen in particular, the structural protein for bone and teeth, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It damages DNA repair enzymes and inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase in the brain, which is involved in transmitting signals along nerve cells. All cells in the body depend on enzymes. Consequently, fluoride can have widespread deleterious effects in multiple organ systems.
Studies show that the rates of bone cancer are substantially higher in fluoridated areas, particularly in boys. [See this.] Other cancers, of the head and neck, GI tract, pancreas, and lungs, have a 10 percent higher incidence. Fluoride affects the thyroid gland and causes hypothyroidism, which is also an increasingly frequent disorder in the US. Other studies show that high levels of fluoride in drinking water are associated with birth defects and early infant mortality.
Fluoride also damages the brain, both directly and indirectly. Rats given fluoridated water at a dose of 4 ppm develop symptoms resembling attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. High concentrations of fluoride accumulate in the pineal gland, which produces serotonin and melatonin. Young girls who drink fluoridated water reach puberty six months earlier than those who drink unfluoridated water, which is thought to be a result of reduced melatonin production. People with Alzheimer’s disease have high levels of aluminum in their brains. Fluoride combines with aluminum in drinking water and takes it through the blood-brain barrier into the brain. Dr. Russell Blaylock, MD, a neurosurgeon, spells out in chilling detail the danger fluoride poses to one’s brain and health in general in his book Health and Nutrition Secrets that can Save Your Life (2002).
Time Magazine notes:
What has also changed is how much toxicologists know about the harmful effects of fluoride compounds. Ingested in high doses, fluoride is indisputably toxic; it was once commonly used in rat poison. Hydrogen fluoride is regulated as a hazardous pollutant in emissions from chemical plants and has been linked to respiratory illness. Even in toothpaste, sodium fluoride is a health concern. In 1997 the Food and Drug Administration toughened the warning on every tube to read, “If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a poison-control center right away.”
And see PhD chemist Joel Kauffman’s review of fluoride in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
Note: While the U.S. is reducing fluoride levels in water, some have proposed adding it to salt and to milk. For example, as the International Dental Journal reported in 2005:
Alternatives to automatic fluoridation by means of water fluoridation are salt fluoridation [and] milk fluoridation … and the WHO Oral Health Programme is currently undertaking evaluation of demonstration projects in several countries.