- Over the past 18 years, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) has facilitated the removal of fluoride from the water supplies of hundreds of communities in North America, Canada and Europe
- FAN has filed an historic lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a provision in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
- Under this TSCA statute, the judge may not defer to the EPA but must weigh the evidence brought forth in trial. If the judge finds there’s an unreasonable risk, he has the authority to order EPA to begin proceedings to eliminate the risk of fluoride in drinking water
- Earlier this year, EPA tried to limit the scope of what FAN could bring to the court’s attention. Its motion was denied, and FAN will be able to request internal documents, submit interrogatories to EPA and depose EPA experts
By Dr. Mercola
In this interview, Paul Connett, PhD, toxicologist, environmental chemist and the founder FAN, Fluoride Action Network (FAN), an organization that has fought to remove toxic fluoride from water supplies across the world, provides an important and exciting update on FAN’s progress during this past year. FAN is an organization that has fought to remove toxic fluoride from the water supply across the world.
Over the past 18 years, FAN has helped hundreds of communities around the US, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Israel and New Zealand fight the reckless and unethical practice of water fluoridation.
Unprecedented Lawsuit Against EPA
In November 2016, a coalition including FAN, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation and several individual mothers, filed a petition calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to the drinking water under provisions in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The petition included more than 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing the risks of water fluoridation to human health, including more than 180 studies published since 2006 showing fluoride causes neurotoxic harm and reduces IQ.
“Under the TSCA, the EPA has authority to ban the uses of chemicals that present unreasonable risks to the general public or to susceptible subpopulations. We’ve brought this case on the grounds that adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water presents an unreasonable risk to the general public, especially to some susceptible subpopulations,” Connett explains.
In its February 27, 2017, response,1 the EPA claimed the petition had failed to “set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride.” Fortunately, the TSCA statute provides citizens with the ability to challenge an EPA denial in federal court, which is where we are now.
“Water fluoridation needs to end,” Connett says. “The United States needs to follow the path of Europe and take fluoride out of the water supply. Those who want it can get it in toothpaste and dental products, which gives everyone the right to choose whether they want to use fluoride or not.
We can apply fluoride in a targeted fashion to the one tissue of the body that stands to benefit — the teeth — and keep it away from everywhere else, particularly to the brain. The focus of our lawsuit is on fluoride’s effects on the brain, for which there is a large and growing body of research.”
Federal Judge to Assess Fluoride Hazards
The current White House administration has vigorously opposed federal regulatory actions and has already reversed many of the environmental safety precautions previously established. This raises serious questions with regard to fluoride, because even if the lawsuit against the EPA turns out to be successful, the Trump administration could easily do something to eliminate its impact. While this is certainly a risk, Connett explains the importance of this historic case.
“One of the reasons we are excited about having this case now in federal court is that it takes this issue away from the federal health agencies, which have really been unable to get past the dogma on this issue.
Here, we have a federal judge who’s going to look at the evidence. What’s powerful about this TSCA statute, is it commands that the judge not defer to the EPA. The judge can’t simply say, ‘It’s good enough for the EPA, it’s good enough for me.’ The language in the statute says that it is to be a de novo proceeding, meaning without deference to the federal agency.
Not only that, but we had a lengthy argument earlier this year where EPA tried to limit the scope of what we could bring to the court’s attention. The judge denied that motion. We are going to be able to get discovery against the EPA. We’re going to be able to request internal documents. We’re going to be able to submit interrogatories to them and depose their experts.
It’s going to be a nice fact-finding mission for us, in addition to having an opportunity to have the best evidence presented by the best experts before this federal judge. If the judge agrees with us [and] finds that there’s an unreasonable risk, he has the authority to order EPA to begin proceedings to eliminate the risk of fluoride in drinking water. That would be a truly historic and unprecedented situation. We really are excited about the potential that this case brings.”
Help Fund Legal Action to End Water Fluoridation
The trial date has been set for August 2019. While Michael is recruiting experts to testify in this case FAN continues its campaign to educate the public of fluoridation’s dangers, especially the threat it poses to the developing brain.
In May FAN launched an urgent campaign to warn women to avoid fluoride during pregnancy in response to a major US government funded study which found a strong correlation between fluoride exposure during pregnancy and lowered IQ in offspring (Bashash et al, 2017 and Thomas et al, 2018).
The government and the media should be issuing these warnings but they aren’t. So FAN – a relatively small non-profit organization – has taken on this huge task itself. Please help fund this important campaign by making a tax-deductible donation to FAN.
FAN’s contention in this case is that adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water presents an unreasonable health risk. If the court agrees, the judge would order EPA to initiate a rule-making proceeding to eliminate that risk. And, while the judge cannot tell the EPA exactly what to do, the most obvious solution that would eliminate this risk would be to no longer add fluoride to drinking water.
Now, there are many powerful organizations that still support water fluoridation, including the American Dental Association (ADA), which supports not only fluoridation but also mercury fillings. The ADA has become quite notorious for ignoring the risks of toxic substances. With that in mind, Connett suspects that if FAN wins the case, there will be a rash of lobbying and pressure on the EPA to find a way to address the problem without actually banning fluoridation outright.
“We can cross that bridge when we get to it, but the EPA potentially could consider lowering the fluoride levels even further,”he says. “But I think, really, if the judge finds that there’s unreasonable risk, the one real solution that fixes the problem is just banning fluoridation. That’s what the United States should be doing …
Western Europe demonstrates to us that this is possible. Countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, they used to fluoridate some of their water supplies, but they decided to end the practice. Western Europe shows us that we can do it here as well.
When you couple the new research linking low-level fluoride exposures to adverse effects on the brain with the fact that we now know you don’t need to swallow fluoride for the one benefit it may provide, then it makes no sense to be forcing hundreds of millions of people to swallow this every day — not just through their water supply, but also through the foods and beverages that our water is used for.”
Water Fluoridation Gives False Appearance of Dental Care
One of the reasons why it’s so important to eliminate water fluoridation is because this chemical is very difficult to remove. You can remove some or a significant amount using distillation, reverse osmosis and special filtration media, but the vast majority of water filtersthat people have access to will not remove fluoride. So, you might filter your water, thinking you’ve purified it, but you haven’t eliminated one of the most significant hazards.
A primary target population for fluoridation is low-income communities, on the grounds that they have less access to dentists and are therefore in greater need of dental care. However, water fluoridation in no way, shape or form addresses this very real need. Adding fluoride chemicals to the drinking water is not dental care. As noted by Connett, “It’s an illusion of dental care.” What’s worse, low-income populations are also more likely to suffer the ill effects of fluoride, as few can afford to buy expensive water filtration systems.
“There’s plenty of reason to believe that lower income populations will be more vulnerable to fluoride’s toxicity, because we know that good nutrition and healthy diets are critical to making one less susceptible to fluoride’s toxicity,” Connett says. “Having inadequate levels of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, protein — those are things we know can cause you to be more susceptible to suffering harm from fluoride.
We know that deficient nutrient intakes are more common in low-income populations, as well as certain diseases, like kidney disease and diabetes. Both of which make one more susceptible to fluoride toxicity, [yet] lower income populations are the very population targeted with fluoridation campaigns today. It’s a very problematic situation.”
What’s Motivating the Promoters of Fluoridation?
Considering the evidence against fluoride, you might wonder what the motivation for the promoters might be. Just what incentives do the ADA and other industries have for continuing to promote it? One major factor is simply organizational and political inertia. Fluoride has been vigorously promoted as a health promoting tactic for decades. It’s extremely difficult for those organizations to now change their tune and admit they were wrong this whole time, and have actually caused people harm.
In the early days of water fluoridation, there were of course political and financial incentives. Chris Bryson’s book, “The Fluoride Deception,” reveals the role the war-making industries in the U.S. — the aluminum, steel and bomb industry in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s — and their role in funding fluoride research.
“They had every interest in the world to not find fluoride to be harmful at low levels, because they were exposing workers and communities to fluoride pollution,” Connett says. “They were the very people funding a lot of the key early research to explain how fluoride affects human health.
I think you had a corruption of the science early on in this issue. But the question of ‘Why do we fluoridate water?’ Honestly, it’s a hard question. It’s a complex question. I think there are a lot of people who absolutely and genuinely believe it’s a good thing.”
One of the most encouraging developments we’re now seeing is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding much-needed studies looking at how fluoride affects the brain at low levels. The first NIH-funded paper was published last fall by a team of researchers from the University of Toronto, University of Michigan, Harvard and Indiana University. In the past, most of these kinds of safety studies were done by ardent pro-fluoridation advocates.
“There was a pretty vigorous suppression of scientific dissent in the early days of fluoridation. Today, we’re seeing the emergence of independent researchers who now have the means to study this issue. We’re starting to see the emergence of a more vigorous academic debate. I think that’s a really important development … that will help us get out of the politics,”Connett says.
How Fluoride Affects Your Brain and Thyroid
As noted by Connett, there are more than 50 human population studies that have linked elevated fluoride levels with neurological effects, particularly lower IQ. More than 200 animal studies also support this link, showing fluoride has adverse effects on the brain, including detrimental effects on learning and memory. The evidence quite clearly shows that fluoride is a neurotoxin. The evidence also shows fluoride is an endocrine disruptor.
The question is at what doses do such effects occur, and how do these doses vary based on individual susceptibility? According to Connett, the evidence suggests brain effects occur at doses that are very close to what many Americans are getting on a daily basis.
More than 20 papers have found effects of fluoride exposure on IQ at around 2 parts per million (ppm), and in the U.S., the recommended fluoride level in water is 0.7 ppm. “It’s within the factor of 3. That’s a pretty small margin,” Connett notes, because you’re also getting it from other foods and beverages, plus fluoridated toothpaste.
By adding fluoride to water, it may be lowering thyroid function in people with normal or underactive thyroid, leading to hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism, which carries a range of significant health effects, including obesity, heart disease and depression. We also know that suboptimal thyroid functioning during pregnancy can affect a child’s cognitive development, so this may actually be one of the mechanisms by which fluoride affects the brain.
Fluoride Also Harms Your Teeth and Bones
Systemic fluoride also damages teeth, causing staining and pitting of the enamel known as dental fluorosis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 58 percent of American adolescents now have some form of dental fluorosis.
“Tens of millions of kids now have dental fluorosis, which is a visible sign of overexposure,” Connett says. “Which begs the question, ‘If fluoride is affecting the tooth-forming cells and causing this visible effect, what is it doing to the tissues in the body that we can’t see?’ [The high rate of fluorosis today] highlights that we’re getting way more fluoride than was ever envisioned by the proponents of fluoridation back in the ’40s and ’50s.
When they started fluoridation back in the 1940s and ’50s, the proponents of the policy … stated that they wanted to keep the level of dental fluorosis in the population to no more than 10 to 15 percent of children, and only in its mildest forms. Beyond that [it] would be a public health issue, they said. Fast-forward 70 years to where we are today, and you have 58 percent of American adolescents … with dental fluorosis.
We are far past the level that the proponents — not the opponents — considered permissible and acceptable when the policy began.
We really need to take a step back and look at this and say, ‘Is there any need whatsoever to be supplementing every person’s daily intake of fluoride by adding it en masse to water supplies and, with it, all our processed foods and beverages?’ There’s simply no need, because it’s so easy to get fluoride. If you want it, you just … buy toothpaste with fluoride in it.”
As for your bones, fluoride has somewhat paradoxical effects. While it tends to increase the density of trabecular bone in the spine, it decreases the bone density in cortical bone, which is more prevalent in the appendicular skeleton such as leg and arm bones, as well as the hip.
And, while the density might be increased in certain types of bone, the new bone structure is structurally inferior bone that is more prone to fracture. “I think U.S. health authorities were premature to dismiss concerns about fluoride’s effects on the bone. I think that remains a substantial concern with the current exposures,” Connett says.