The Fluoride Debate







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A Critique of the ADA's Promotion of Fluoridation

Fluoridation is the practice of adding compounds containing fluoride to drinking water to reduce dental decay. In 1945, trials began in three North American cities: Grand Rapids, Michigan; Newburgh, NY and Brantford, Ontario. In 1950, before any of these trials had been completed, mass fluoridation of the public water supplies was enthusiastically endorsed by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS).

Since this time it has received ringing endorsements from successive Surgeon Generals and as recently as October 1999, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described fluoridation as one of the top ten public health achievements of the twentieth century. "Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: 'Fluoridation of Drinking Water to Prevent Dental Caries.'" Mortality and Morbitity Weekly Report, 48 (41); 933-940, October 22, 1999. (See also a critique of this statement at

Approximately 60% of US public drinking water systems are fluoridated. In Europe, where more objective scrutiny of the science has taken place, the practice has almost unanimously been rejected and yet according to statistics collected and published by the World Health Organization (WHO), their children's teeth are just as good, if not better, than those of American children (also see

One intriguing and disturbing fact about fluoridation is that over 90% of the agent used in US fluoridation schemes is not pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride, on which practically all toxicological testing has been performed, but industrial grade hexafluorosilicic acid obtained from the air pollution scrubbing systems of the superphosphate industry (e.g. Cargill Fertilizer). By law, this waste cannot be dumped into the sea but the EPA allows it to be diluted down with our public drinking water. The union representing scientists at the EPA headquarters in Washington, DC has gone on record as opposing this bizarre form of hazardous waste management (See


For over 50 years the American public has been fed a one-sided diet of inaccurate claims on fluoridation delivered with almost biblical certainty. No organization has done more to promote fluoridation than the American Dental Association (ADA) since they first endorsed the measure in 1950. Ironically, prior to this endorsement they had been very much opposed to the idea. An editorial in the Journal of the American Dental Association in October, 1944 stated:

"We do know that the use of drinking water containing as little as 1.2 to 3.0 parts per million of fluorine will cause such developmental disturbances in bones as osteosclerosis, spondylosis and osteopetrosis, as well as goiter; and we cannot afford to run the risk of producing such serious systemic disturbances in applying what is at present a doubtful procedure ... ."

And they added:

"There is no margin of safety, and that with their present knowledge or lack of knowledge of the chemistry of the subject, the potentialities for harm far outweigh those for good."

The ADA's change of heart in 1950 smacks more of a religious than a scientific conversion, since not one single fluoridation trial had been completed by 1950. Moreover, ADA's promotion ever since smacks more of a religious crusade than a careful and balanced scientific appraisal of the merits and dangers of the practice.


For many years, as part of their "crusade," the ADA has circulated a booklet entitled Fluoridation Facts, which gets updated from time to time. This booklet has been very influential. It is circulated to public officials, the media and the general public. To those unfamiliar with the subject it may appear to be a sound scientific defense of fluoridation. To those who are familiar with the literature it reads more like carefully crafted propaganda. In other words, the ADA is not a body that is searching for the truth in this matter, but rather it is an organization whose leadership has endorsed the practice of water fluoridation and their goal is to defend it at all costs. Those costs not only include the health of our children and the bones of the elderly, but the sacrifice of sound scientific reasoning by a professional body and the loss of an individual's rights to informed consent on medical treatment.

The clear message in the ADA text is that fluoridation is grounded in sound scientific research and that those who are opposed to it are "emotional," "fear mongers" and peddlers of "junk science." In their latest booklet they use the phrase "generally accepted scientific knowledge" with slight variations, no less than 20 times in the text. But stating this over and over does not make it true.

Independent scientists who have examined the practice and promotion of fluoridation have been appalled at the poor science involved. For example, Dr. Paul Connett, Professor of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, underscores many glaring scientific weaknesses. He lists them as follows:

The early studies conducted in 1945-1955 in the US have been heavily criticized for their poor methodology and poor choice of control communities (De Stefano, 1954; Nessin, 1956; Sutton, 1996).

Once fluoride is in the water it is impossible to control the dose to individuals precisely. A) Some people drink more water than others. B) There are many other sources of fluoride, including: food and beverages processed with fluoridated water; pesticide residues and dental products.

Despite the fact that we are exposed to far more fluoride in 2000 than we were in 1945 (when fluoridation began) the water fluoridation level is still the same 1 ppm, advocated as the optimal level in 1945!

The United States Public Health Service first endorsed fluoridation in 1951, before one single trial had been completed (McClure, 1970)!

The fluoridation program has been very poorly monitored. There has never been a comprehensive analysis of the fluoride levels in the bones of the American people. US Health authorities have no idea how close we are getting to levels that will cause subtle or even serious bone damage.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved the fluoride supplements given to children, which are designed to deliver the same amount of fluoride as fluoridated water (Kelly, 2000).

The chemicals used to fluorid
ate 90% of water fluoridated in the US are not pharmaceutical grade. Instead, they come from the wet scrubbing systems of the superphosphate fertilizer industry. These chemicals are either hexafluorosilicic acid or its sodium salt. They are contaminated with toxic metals and trace amounts of radioactive isotopes. In other words, the public water supply is being used as a vehicle for hazardous waste management! (Glasser, 1999, "It's Pollution, Stupid,"

These hazardous waste
s have not been tested comprehensively. The chemical usually tested in animal studies is pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride. The assumption being made is that by the time the waste product used has been diluted, all the hexafluorosilicic acid will have been converted into free fluoride ions and the other toxic and radioactive isotopes will be so dilute that they will cause no harm, even with lifetime exposure. These assumptions have not been examined carefully by scientists, independent of the fluoridation program. (See "50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation",, by Dr. Paul Connett, Professor of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY).

Some of the earliest opponents of fluoridation were biochemists and at least 14 Nobel Prize winners are among numerous scientists who have expressed their reservations about the practice of fluoridation. Dr. James Sumner, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on enzyme chemistry, had this to say about fluoridation: "We ought to go slowly. Everybody knows fluorine and fluoride are very poisonous substances ... We use them in enzyme chemistry to poison enzymes, those vital agents in the body. That is the reason things are poisoned; because the enzymes are poisoned and that is why animals and plants die."

Last year's (2000) recipient of the Noble Prize for Medicine and Physiology, was Dr. Arvid Carlsson of Sweden. Dr. Carlsson was one of the leading opponents of fluoridation in Sweden and was part of the panel that recommended that the Swedish government reject the practice, which they did in 1971. In her book The Fluoride Question: Panacea or Poison Anne-lise Gotzsche quotes Carlsson as follows: "It is not worthwhile to conceal the fact that it is a question of applying a pharmacologically active substance to an entire population" (p.69). Unfortunately, the ADA is not as scrupulous about what it conceals from the American public and its own membership.

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