Collection: Fluoride In Drinking Water

by Lynn Landes, (215) 493-1070 and MariaBechis, updated July 1998

The widespread and uncontrolled use of fluoride in our water, food, juices, beverages, and dental products is causing widespread over exposure to fluoride in the U.S.

For three consecutive years, The Journal of theAmerican Dental Association (see JADA’s Dec. 1995, July1996, July 1997) has published studies reporting on pervasiveoverexposure to fluoride due to "the widespread use offluoridated water, fluoride dentifrice, dietary fluoride supplements and other forms of fluoride...{There is} an increased prevalence of dental fluorosis, ranging from about 15% to 65% influoridated areas and 5% to 40% in non-fluoridated areas in NorthAmerica."

In February of 1997, The Academy of GeneralDentistry (AGD) warned parents to limit their children’s intake of juices due to excessive fluoride content.

In April of 1994, the ADA's Council on Scientific Affairs approved a new Fluoride Supplementation Dosage Schedule with the following cautions, "All sources of fluoride must be evaluated with a thorough fluoride history ...Patient exposure to multiple sources can make proper prescribing complex...Caries reduction benefits must be balanced with risk for mild and very mild fluorosis." The multiple sources for fluoride ingestion makes any assessment of patient exposure to fluoride, highly speculative.

Today, over 50% of the United States population drink fluoridated water. Most developed countries have banned fluoride in water. Less than 2% of Western Europe drink fluoridated water. In general, Americans are not warned of the risks of fluoride. Food and beverage labels do not include fluoride concentrations.

Fluoride is the only chemical added to U.S.municipal water that is used to mass medicate, rather than torender water safe to drink. It is not an essential nutrient. It has never received "FDA Approval"(U.S. Food and DrugAdministration). It is listed as an "unapproved newdrug" by the FDA, and as a "contaminant" by theEPA. Although fluoride can occur naturally in some water supplies, the type of fluoride added to water is a hazardous waste of the aluminum, uranium, and phosphate fertilizer industries.

Fluoride accumulates throughout the body, overan individual’s lifetime. It effects all age groups with both long and short-term harmful health consequences. Fluorosisis symptomatic of an over-exposure to fluoride. Its visible characteristics are the discoloration, white flecks, or pittingof the teeth. Fluorosis can lead to decay in teeth and bone, andhas been linked to Alzheimer's, kidney damage, cancer, genetic damage, neurological impairment, and bone pathology.

In 1993, U.S. Dept. of Health and HumanServices (HHS) stated in its Toxicological Profile on Fluoride,"Existing data indicate that subsets of the population maybe unusually susceptible to the toxic effects of fluoride and itscompounds. These populations include the elderly, people with deficiencies of calcium, magnesium, and/or vitamin C, and peoplewith cardiovascular and kidney problems... Postmenopausal women and elderly men in fluoridated communities may also be at increased risk of fractures."

Is there a margin of safety for exposure to fluoride? In the 1940’s, when fluoridation of municipal water began, the "optimal" level of exposure to fluoride for dental benefit was determined to be 1 milligram/day.Even at the 1 mg/day exposure level, 10% of the population were expected to contract dental fluorosis. It was estimated that individuals drank 1 liter of water per day. At that time, other sources of fluoride were scarce.

In 1986, the EPA set new "maximum contaminant levels (MCLs)" for fluoride. Above 2 mg/liter"children are likely to develop objectionable dental fluorosis" and parents must be officially notified. Above 4mg/liter, individuals are at risk of developing "crippling skeletal fluorosis." It is against federal law to fluoridate water above 4 mg/liter.


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