The word “fluoride” is generally used to describe several artificial chemicals added to our drinking water in the belief they will reduce dental cavities or tooth decay. (Also see Questions 22 and 23).
The main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are known as “silicofluorides” (i.e., hexafluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate, and sodium fluoride). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride products; they are untreated industrial by-products from the processing of phosphate fertiliser. As these silicofluorides undergo no purification procedures, they can contain elevated levels of arsenic — more so than any other water treatment chemical. In addition, recent research suggests that silicofluorides in water can leach lead from pipes and brass fittings. For more details see our article: The source of fluoride
No. There is no biological need for fluoride; in fact fluoride interferes with a number of biological functions in the body including the brain and nervous system, enzymes and cell proteins, the endocrine system (especially the thyroid and pineal glands), the kidneys and the skeletal system. Fluoride’s influence on our physiology is pervasive and as soon as it enters the body our kidneys recognise it as a foreign toxin and try to expel it.
Fluoride is not an essential nutrient nor has any disease been linked to any “fluoride deficiency”. Using the word ‘nutrient’ to describe fluoride is a misleading and deceptive strategy to hide the facts.
Despite what our governments say in order to defend the process of fluoridation, there is no safe level for ingestion.
Fluoride has long been known to be a very toxic substance. This is why fluoride has been used in pesticides and rodenticides (to kill rats, insects, etc). It is also why, in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all fluoride toothpaste sold in the US to carry a poison warning that instructs users to contact the poison control center if they swallow more than used for brushing.
Fluoride is more toxic than lead and slightly less toxic than arsenic and the maximum contaminant level goal for these neurotoxins is zero. Fluoride should be treated the same as lead and arsenic. Unfortunately our health authorities still focus on concentration levels in drinking water, ignoring the essential fact that there are several sources of ingesting fluoride – these include tea, beer, anything cooked/boiled in tap water, inhalation from shower steam, sodas and any other processed foods where tap water is used as part of the manufacturing or preparation. Thus, the total daily dosage should be considered. For example – one cup of tea may contain 3mg of fluoride on its own and this is already above the so-called ‘daily safe limits’.” More about fluoride in tea here.
There is no reliable evidence that fluoridated water reduces dental decay. Our health authorities continue to rely on extremely poor quality studies to support fluoridation and also ignore major, large-scale, population-based studies clearly showing there is no difference in tooth decay rates between fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries, regions, cities. For more details see our article: Water fluoridation is not effective.
NO! There is absolutely no need to swallow fluoride to prevent tooth decay, in any form. Although water fluoridation was initially approved on the premise that swallowing fluoride is the most effective way to strengthen teeth, most dental researchers now concede that fluoride’s primary benefit comes from direct topical contact with the teeth, not from ingestion. This is probably the most important argument against fluoridation – that fluoride is not effective when ingested and that adverse health effects come primarily from ingestion.
Chlorine has the purpose of rendering drinking water safe for consumption, killing bacteria and viruses. Fluoride, however, is added with the belief that it is beneficial when applied topically to teeth, yet instead of being applied only to the teeth – tap water is ingested (where it is not needed nor has any benefit). It would make more sense to use a topical application of fluoride (such as toothpaste which is not ingested), and give people the choice to have clean water rather than have it polluted with fluoride.
While chlorine is used to treat the water, fluoride is used to treat the individual. Therefore, by its very nature, fluoride added to drinking water is a therapy, treatment or medication.
The most well known risk is dental fluorosis, however the more significant effects are not as easily seen. Fluoride is a cumulative poison and biologically very active even at low concentrations because it interferes with hydrogen bonding and inhibits numerous enzymes and cell proteins. Only 50 per cent of the daily ingested fluoride is excreted through the kidneys (in a healthy individual, not people who suffer renal complications). The remainder accumulates in bones, the pineal gland, and other soft tissues. Fluoride toxicity can lead to kidney damage in children. Fluoride is also a documented neurotoxin. For more details, see: Water fluoridation is not safe and Fluoride is a neurotoxin and also Bioaccumulation of fluoride.
No. Fluoridation chemicals are an extremely hazardous, highly-toxic, highly-acidic waste product that if not removed via a ‘scrubbing’ process would cause extensive damage to the environment, as they did in metal smelting factories in the 1800s and early 1900s. But that fact doesn’t stop some health authorities going to extraordinary lengths to mislead the public. In 2009 the Department of Human Services in Victoria publicly stated the following:
“Does Fluoride come from the fertiliser industry?
Scrubbers can be used to reduce atmospheric pollution by gases, leading some people to conclude that because a scrubber is used to extract fluoride from rocks, fluoride must be a pollutant, but this is not the case.
Fluoride is not a waste product of the fertiliser manufacturing process, but rather a co-product. If fluoride is not actively collected during the refining process for water fluoridation purposes, it remains in the phosphate fertiliser. However, due to the widespread practice of water fluoridation in Australia, fluoride is commonly extracted during the refining process.”
For more details of this scrubbing process, see our article: The source of fluoride
No it is highly illegal to dump hexafluorosilicic acid anywhere – in the land, the sea or the rivers. Hexafluorosilicic acid is therefore very expensive to dispose of because a complex process is required to neutralise this highly-toxic substance. It is estimated to cost several thousand dollars to dispose of one tonne, which is probably more than the cost of purchasing it originally.
Less than five per cent of the world’s population receives fluoridated drinking water and a great deal of effort is made by many people world-wide to avoid fluoride by using water filters or buying plastic bottled water, which is an environmental disaster.
Only three countries in the world have government/federal mandated fluoridation: Ireland, Singapore and Israel. As at December 2017 Israel had not recommenced fluoridation despite Government mandate.
Only eight countries in the world have more than 50% of the population on fluoridated water: USA (70%), Australia (90%), Ireland (70%), Singapore (100%), Chile (70%), Brunei (95%), New Zealand (52%), Malaysia (66%). Only 10% of the UK is fluoridated and 98% of Europe is not fluoridated.
Each year approximately 6,300 tonnes of liquid hexafluorosilicic acid and about 1,600 tonnes of powdered fluoridation chemicals are added to our drinking water supplies around Australia, with nearly all of the powder imported from China.
The largest water supplier in New South Wales, Sydney Water, uses both liquid hexafluorosilicic acid and powdered sodium fluorosilicate for fluoridation purposes. In the financial year 2017-2018 alone, Sydney Water dosed 496 billion litres of water with 827 tonnes of powdered fluoridation chemicals. This entire supply of industrial waste chemical was imported directly from China. Sydney Water also dosed another 97 billion litres of water with 612 tonnes of the liquid hydrofluorosilicic acid industrial waste sourced directly from Incitec Pivot Fertiliser in Geelong, Victoria.
For details about other states, see our article: The source of fluoride
Less than one per cent of the water dosed with artificial fluoridation chemicals by water suppliers in Australia actually enters the mouths of ratepayers; instead the overwhelming majority ends up in the environment. And of the tiny fraction of water that is actually consumed, more than 99 per cent of the fluoride doesn’t even touch the teeth, instead it is ingested through the organs, bones and tissues of every rate-paying resident.
It depends on the size of the dosing plant, but the average is at least $700,000 and many medium sized plants cost around $1 million, while larger plants can cost up to $1.8 million. More details of operating costs are available here.
The two major phosphate fertiliser processing plants in Australia that sell their waste helxafluorosilicic acid to our water suppliers are Incitec Pivot Limited based in Geelong and CSBP (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wesfarmers Limited) based in Kwinana, south of Perth. All of the hexafluorosilicic acid waste-product from these two companies is used for fluoridation. In addition, around 1,600 tonnes of powdered silicofluoride chemicals are imported from China each year.
Fluoride is not the only harmful substance that has been enthusiastically embraced and stanchly protected by health officials and governments for decades. Lead in fuel, cigarettes, asbestos, DDT insecticide, thalidomide, BPA in plastics, vioxx and mercury fillings are all examples of obstinate attachment to a flawed belief system.
For a scientific myth like fluoride to remain in place for so long, it needs to be embraced by the individual and by society as a whole and then governments just follow suit because they don’t want to risk changing the status quo, doing what might be unpopular, or admitting they have been wrong all this time. Like the individual, they really want fluoride to work becasue it provides a (false) sense of security.
The longer this belief system is held, the more difficult it is to let go and the more effort involved in its defense – until even our national health body is using methodology that is not only extremely biased but is virtually fraudulent in order to defend and support fluoridation.
There is so much ego, money and professional credibility invested in fluoridation; it will take a major shift in perception for this to change, but sooner or later the fluoride house of cards will collapse in a heap. More here.
The Federal Department of Health and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) have an aim to fluoridate every town in Australia with a population more than 1,000.
The fluoride “story” was originally accepted and embraced around 70 years ago by the public simply because they liked the idea of a colourless, tasteless and odourless substance magically protecting their teeth, reducing the chances of having to visit a dentist and not having to reduce their sugar consumption or take responsibility. This underlying drive continues to influence our perception, essentially because we want fluoride to work because it provides a sense of security. For more details see our article: The fluoride story
Natural ground water with high levels of fluoride is normally water derived from deep artesian wells. High levels of natural-occurring fluorides have caused enormous health problems for millions of people around the world. People consuming water with naturally high levels of fluoride have been found to suffer serious health ailments including crippling bone disease, disfiguring dental problems, ulcers, reduced IQ, thyroid disease, infertility, allergies and other health conditions. As a result, international organizations such as UNICEF assist developing nations in finding ways to remove fluoride from the water. The Indian and Chinese governments spend millions of dollars each year removing natural fluoride from drinking water due to the enormous damage it causes.
Fortunately, most fresh water supplies in Australia contain very low levels of fluoride, although even these low levels have caused problems with animals. The average level of fluoride in unpolluted fresh water is less than 0.1 ppm, which is about 10 times less than the levels added to water in fluoridation programs in Australia (0.6 to 1.1 ppm). The frequent claim, therefore, that “nature thought of fluoridation first” is not only substanceless it is yet another deceptive tactic.
This answer is being reviewed
This answer is being reviewed
Dentists are told to embrace fluoridation during their studies and may have been told they must embrace fluoridation in order to matriculate. They are told repeatedly that the science in favour of fluoridation is “overwhelming” and there is “no valid evidence showing any harms”. Dentists are therefore quickly indoctrinated to the process of fluoridation.
All medical professionals are taught not to question or challenge established medical protocol, so any dentist or doctor publicly speaking out against water fluoridation is at risk of being criticised or ridiculed. It is not a normal task or job description of a dentist or doctor to investigate the scientific trends of society. Instead they rely on health departments or their professional associations which in this case are not reliable.
Essentially, dentists are dental experts, not toxicologists and they are often totally unaware of all the science available regarding the safety and effectiveness of ingested fluoride.
They also may wish to protect the image of fluoride because negative perceptions of fluoride may impact on their ability to continue applying topical fluoride treatments.
Also, although the science of medicine will always keep evolving, unfortunately once a health professional has learnt that something is “scientific fact” it is very difficult for them to unlearn this “fact”.
Dentists are an essential part of a successful oral health program but it is unfortunate that many dentists and doctors continue to repeat misleading and inaccurate statements about water fluoridation, often without being aware of the facts.
Yes, there certainly are and they should be congratulated for their courage to stand up for principles. We encourage any health professionals, scientists or lawyers to sign our PAF (Professionals Against Fluoridation) Statement, found here.
Around 5,000 professionals have signed Fluoride Action Network’s Professional’s Statement and this includes a list of Australian professionals.
Many scientific studies have shown that daily, long-term ingestion of fluoridation chemicals can lead to long-term chronic health conditions, rather than acute problems such as sudden poisoning and death. Also, many symptoms and results of fluoride toxicity escape normal diagnosis as our medical profession are not yet aware of the potential harm that fluoride may cause.
In May 1973, Jason Burton a two-year-old Brisbane boy died of fluoride poisoning after ingesting four fluoride tablets. A spokesman for the Queensland Justice Department confirmed that Jason´s death was caused by fluoride poisoning. He said the death certificate was authentic, recording the cause of death as fluoride poisoning.
At least two other fatalities have occurred because the toxicity of fluoride is often underestimated. (Dukes M, 1980).
It should be remembered that fluoride has been used as an active ingredient in rat poison and pesticides. In other countries such as America, toothpaste is required to have a warning label – stating that if accidentally swallowed – medical help should be sought. In Australia – toothpaste comes with clear instructions “do not swallow” and certain toothpastes should not be used by children under 12 years of age.
Poisoning incidents occur more often than fatal ingestions of fluoride. Acute poisoning symptoms include gastric upset, nausea, headache – occurring as a result of ingesting as little as a strip of fluoridated toothpaste. Fatal limits of ingested fluoride are estimated to be around 5mg/kg of body weight (Whitford, 1987).
In 2016 in the United States, the results of a national health survey (NHANES) showed that adolescents with any form of fluorosis had jumped to a staggering 65 per cent. Even more concerning was the huge increase in combined moderate and severe fluorosis, jumping from 3.7 per cent to a massive 30.4 per cent. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health have reported around 50 per cent of children in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas have some form of dental fluorosis.
But in Australia, rates of dental fluorosis are unusually low by comparison with a claimed rate of 16.8 per cent. This, however, is not surprising as deceptive and misleading tactics have intentionally been used to hide this condition that would otherwise potentially threaten Australia’s fluoridation program. Read more here.
Dental fluorosis is the first visible sign of systemic poisoning and therefore any degree of dental fluorosis is not acceptable, especially given the substantial evidence to show that fluoridation is not effective in reducing tooth decay.
Yes. There are numerous studies to show an association with other serious health issues, including hypothyroidism, skeletal fluorosis, eye conditions, cardio-vascular conditions, reduced IQ and other neurological conditions.
This is one of the unfortunate and misleading terms often used by fluoride proponents. A concentration of 1mg of fluoride per litre is often referred to as an “optimum” level, “providing a balance between tooth decay and dental fluorosis”. The reality, however, is that the optimum level of fluoride is in fact ZERO and any level of fluorosis is an indication of fluoride toxicity.
We recommend avoiding all sources of fluoride including topical application. However, an individual has a right to choose fluoridated toothpaste or even have topical fluoride treatments applied by a dental professional. Fluoride ingested via mandatory public water fluoridation, on the other hand, is not safe, not effective, not ethical, not legal and it robs people of their choice.
It is most unfortunate that many Australian children were given fluoride tablets from the 1960s. Fluoride supplements (drops, tablets, and lozenges) have never been approved as safe and effective by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration or by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Fluoride supplements were introduced as a substitute for fluoridated water for children living in unfluoridated communities. They are not recommended in Australia but they are still available and require a prescription from a dentist or a doctor.
The use of fluoride supplements is based on two outdated and absurd beliefs: 1) fluoride needs to be swallowed to be effective and 2) children in unfluoridated communities have a deficiency of fluoride intake. Modern research has invalidated both of these beliefs. Many pro-fluoride dental researchers are calling for an end to fluoride supplements, and dental organisations throughout the western world have begun drastically revising their fluoride supplementation guidelines. The evidence that fluoride supplements reduces cavities is “poor,” “inconsistent,” and “weak.” (Ismail 2008; Riordan 1999).
Even Better Health Victoria says, “Don’t use fluoride supplements in the form of drops or tablets to be chewed or swallowed. They can affect the development of your child’s adult teeth.”
Water fluoridation is a very clear violation of medical ethics: there is no informed consent, no warning of possible health risks, no prescription or regard for an individual’s circumstances, no ongoing monitoring, no control of dosage and a substantial body of scientific evidence to show that it is harmful and ineffective at reducing dental decay. Mandatory water fluoridation is not only unethical it is arrogant and disrespectful. Read more about ethics here.
A ratio of 1ppm or one part fluoride to one million parts of water (commonly expressed as 1mg fluoride per litre of water) sounds like an irrelevant and harmless concentration. However, there are several crucial factors that are often overlooked or downplayed by fluoridation promoters: i) the amount of water consumed containing fluoridation chemicals; ii) the amount of processed foods consumed containing fluoride from mains water; iii) the amount of fluoride ingested from other sources such as tea, pesticide residue, prescribed medications, and iv) the body weight of the individual. The resulting total daily dosage per kilogram of bodyweight is therefore most relevant.
Taking all of these into account, it is possible for most Australians to be ingesting between 1.5 and 6 mg/L of fluoride every day, and sometimes more. Also, it is the daily long-term ingestion of fluoridation chemicals that causes potential physiological damage, as many scientific studies have revealed. Also, read about the bioaccumulation of fluoride here.
This question is being reviewed
This question is being reviewed
This statement was created by two dentists working for the Oral Health division of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the two main promoters of fluoridation. The CDC has refused all requests to substantiate this claim with scientific evidence.
Unfortunately there are many tactics used to defend and promote fluoridation that are misleading, deceptive and even fraudulent. These include consistently dismissing important scientific material, conducting biased reviews, misleading the public by not disclosing appropriate information, acting dishonestly by misrepresenting the facts, and involving promoters who often engage in intimidation while continually referring to organisational endorsements rather than addressing the science. For more details see our article: Water fluoridation is not ethical
No, and fluoridated water is not the only concern for our animals. Cases to consider:
2011; Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar racetracks, all in Southern California, have reported a rise in bone fractures in horses after using mains fluoridated water. In the San Diego Wild Animal Park, elephants and zebras exhibited unusual behaviour following the introduction of water fluoridation. Here in Australia, it became necessary to euthanise a large number of kangaroos due to fluoride poisoning. According to the EPA’s Bruce Dawson, the kangaroos, poisoned by eating affected vegetation, develop bone legions, rendering them lame. This is due to Alcoa’s aluminium smelter at Portland (Vic) polluting the air. 1
Grazing animals (horses, cows, sheep, kangaroos, etc) are affected by eating contaminated crops. As a pollutant, fluorides are released into the air in both a gaseous state and in solid particles. In fact, according to the US Department of Agriculture, “Airborne fluorides have caused more worldwide damage to domestic animals than any other air pollutant.” Huge compensation payments have been made, mostly as out-of-court settlements.
A study conducted by the US EPA found high levels of fluoride contamination in eight major brands of dog food. Osteosarcoma has been on the rise in dogs, particularly affecting large breeds. When purchasing commercial dog foods, avoid those with animal by-products which have a higher concentration of fluoride. 2
In Queensland, farmers have long been aware of the damaging affect that natural fluoride in artesian water can have on their sheep and cattle.3
Yes, in many ways, some examples include:
Fluoride is a pollutant and does not degrade easily, whether it be in water, ground water, air or soil.
Tea leaves have a high fluoride concentration due the plant absorbing and storing fluoride mainly in its leaves, being a fluorine collector.
Certain pine trees are extremely sensitive to fluorides and act as ‘bio indicators’ for air and water pollution. Fluoride injuries to coniferous forests can occur at up to 32km from the source and total destruction of certain species at a distance of 13km, resulting from gaseous and solid particle exposure to fluorides.
Yes. Many processed foods including bread and tinned or packaged foods use mains fluoridated water in their manufacturing process and therefore contain fluoride.
Some Australian health authorities state that fluoride is found naturally in many foods, however fluoride contained in all foods is added because of the use of mains fluoridated water. High levels of natural fluoride are often found in tea and this source adds to the total daily dosage of fluoride which is crucial.
When silicofluorides (fluoridation chemicals) enter the stomach’s strong hydrochloric acid environment, they tend to return to the molecular form. In this form they are readily absorbed and quickly enter the blood stream and circulate throughout the body to all organs. In a healthy person around 50 per accumulates in bones. More here.
It is clear that certain subpopulation groups are particularly vulnerable to fluoride’s toxicity. Groups that have heightened susceptibility to fluoride include infants, individuals with diabetes or kidney disease, individuals with nutrient deficiencies (particularly calcium and iodine), individuals with allergies or hypersensitivity to fluoride, possibly individuals with other medical conditions and many individuals who drink above average quantities of water such as outdoor labourers and athletes.
This is simply not true. Although there is no apparent cost of fluoridation to the individual, water suppliers throughout Australia inevitably pass on the ongoing operating costs of fluoridation by transparently embedding them in water rates. The cost of building and installing the fluoride dosing plants ranges from $700,000 to $1.8 million each and this cost is normally met by the taxpayer. Of course ratepayers and taxpayers do pay for the enormous cost of fluoridation, but this cost is egregious given the fluoridation chemicals are not effective at reducing tooth decay and are harmful.
In future we hope to provide a list of holistic dentists practicing around Australia. In the mean time, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology provides a list of their members.
Without a doubt, the best alternative to adding a toxic, harmful, ineffective, industrial-waste chemical to our drinking water involves an overall healthy lifestyle and a comprehensive, strategic education program, especially for children.
A well-designed education program encouraging parents and children to reduce sugar and junk food consumption, maintain a nutritious diet, engage in regular physical activities and follow a detailed and disciplined dental hygiene regime (including visiting the dentist regularly), will not only provide the best chance of optimum oral heath, it will contribute to overall holistic health and well-being and significantly reduce the likelihood of disease.
In addition, any responsible government would instigate fluoride-free strategies and programs used successfully overseas, such as Scotland’s CHILDSMILE program. More details available here.
Around 90 per cent of Australia’s population receives fluoridated water, compared to 70 per cent in the US, 50 per cent in New Zealand and 10 per cent in the UK. Australia has one of the highest rates of fluoridation in the world.
Wrong! Australia’s oral health situation is often described as a dental decay epidemic. Our national dental health status is disturbing. For more details, see Fluoride is not effective
People believe in fluoride because they want it to work and because it provides a (false) sense of security. Ultimately, fluoride covers up our fear of tooth decay, visiting the dentist and reducing our sugar consumption. For these reasons fluoride can be stubbornly and resolutely embraced and the suggestion of removing it can invoke unusually emotional reactions.
The science in any field should never be regarded as settled and any such comment is not only unfortunate it’s terribly ignorant. Also, there was plenty of science and numerous professionals refuting and opposing fluoridation 70 years ago, but highly-vested interests (i.e. greed) and ignorance won over. Since then there has been a substantial and steadily-growing body of scientific research published against forced fluoridation – enough to terminate our fluoridation program immediately.
Imagine if, 70 years ago, an individual stated that the science regarding any other disease was now settled and there was nothing more to discover. Look how much the science of medicine has evolved in the last 70 years! Science, and our understanding of the world, will always continue to evolve and develop.
Yes, NHMRC’s last review was published in 2017. As we point out in detail in our article Can the NHMRC be trusted?, our national health body’s methodology is more than questionable, it’s highly biased and possibly even fraudulent. The time has long passed for an independent review of fluoridation.
Politicians are often motivated by satisfying the needs (or wants) of the people, and by acting in ways that will earn them approval and praise. They are often loath to making hard decisions that would not be popular and would involve a major cultural change. Discontinuing fluoridation would be regarded as politically risky, but some Australian politicians have had the courage to stand up for principles.
There are several bodies currently endorsing fluoridation in Australia, including the Australian Dental Association and the Australian Medical Association. These often-referred-to endorsements can be traced back to the 1930s in the United States when prominent businessmen with enormously vested interests heavily influenced US public health policy. Before scientific studies on fluoride’s efficacy were even complete, the American Dental Association officially endorsed fluoridation in 1950 and others followed suit simply because they liked the idea. The US Public Health Service then spent $2 million promoting fluoride and a dangerous, hazardous toxic waste was suddenly transformed into a substance that magically protected our teeth. Fluoridation is built on very poor science, endorsements based on poor science and endorsements based on endorsements. But endorsements are not science; they are just a smoke screen hiding the facts. More here.
Sometimes we hear comments that the Nazis or Russians used fluoride to make prisoners more submissive and therefore our governments are using fluoride to “dumb down” and control the population. Conspiracy theories like this and others are ridiculous and are not relevant to the scientific debate on fluoride.
In several of our articles we refer to the US National Research Council’s thorough and extensive 3-year and 12-member-panel review on water fluoridation which cast serious doubts over the safety of fluoride and called for additional research to be conducted. So far the NHMRC has avoided or ignored the NRC’s findings.
The “York Review” (2000) was a thorough systematic review of all population studies available. It was not allowed to look at laboratory studies, or at individual medical case histories.
A systematic review examines the methodology of research to determine the reliability. It then assesses the weight of evidence, and the reliability of that evidence, in relation to claims, in this case about safety and effectiveness. It found that research was, overall, of poor to moderate quality. It rejected over 90 per cent of studies as being too poor to consider further. The report said: “The quality … is in general only low to moderate, and should be interpreted with caution, especially considering the significant heterogeneity between studies.”
This statement by the Chair of the advisory panel, Dr Trevor Sheldon, sums up the true findings of the York Review – that until better quality studies are available there will continue to be legitimate scientific controversy over water fluoridation.
By its very design, the York Review could never have determined safety of fluoridation – it was unable to examine a large portion of the evidence of adverse health effects. This issue was addressed six years later, by the US National Research Council Review.
In October 2004, after a number of misleading statements by various pro-fluoride bodies, a clarification letter was published by Dr Sheldon, concluding:
“The review team was surprised that in spite of the large number of studies carried out over several decades there is a dearth of reliable evidence with which to inform policy. Until high quality studies are undertaken providing more definite evidence, there will continue to be legitimate scientific controversy over the likely effects and costs of water fluoridation.”
More studies here.
It is possible for people to have a sensitivity or an allergy to fluoride. When using a fluoride toothpaste the easiest symptom to recognise is contact dermatitis.
Other information to consider is that 1% of the test group of an original 1950’s control study showed immediate and acute adverse reactions to the “optimal” level of water fluoridation (around 1mg/L). These reactions included rashes, gastrointestinal distress and neurological symptoms. The researchers of this study suggested further investigation is needed and that those who had pre-existing allergies might have a lower level of tolerance to fluoridated water. (Feltman and Kosel 1956, 1961)
Later reports have shown that up to 5 per cent of a population could have immediate acute reaction to optimally fluoridated water and that 10-15 per cent of the population can develop an intolerance to fluoridated water.
In 2015, the Cochrane Collaboration published the results of a substantial meta-analysis, which involved the review of 155 studies of fluoridation. The authors of the Cochrane review could find no high-quality research showing that:
- Fluoridation provided any benefit to adults;
- Fluoridation provided additional benefits over and above topically applied fluoride;
- Fluoridation reduced inequalities among children from different socio-economic groups or that;
- Tooth decay increased in communities when fluoridation is stopped.
The Cochrane review didn’t regard the studies claiming to show that water fluoridation reduces decay in children as applicable to today’s society, as nearly all the studies reviewed (dating back to the 1940s – 1960s) had a high risk of bias and were conducted prior to the availability of fluoride toothpaste and other sources of fluoride.
Also, of the 19 caries studies that met the relaxed inclusion criteria, all 19 were deemed to have a high risk of bias due to a lack of control for confounding factors.
PFAS stands for Per-and-PolyfluoroAlkyl-Substances. They are also referred to as ‘fluorochemcials’ because of their high level of fluoride. They are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s and are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products and even fire-fighting foam. Several manufacturing processes release PFAS into the air, soil, and water. Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, many people have been exposed to PFAS.
A growing body of science has found that there are potential adverse health impacts associated with PFAS exposure, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer. These are the same damages caused by water fluoridation chemicals. Our exposure to PFAS chemicals should therefore be minimised.
If you live in a community that fluoridates its water supply, there are several options to avoid drinking the fluoride that is added. Unfortunately, each of these options will cost money (unless you happen to have access to a free source of spring water). The options include:
Spring water: Most spring water contains very low levels of fluoride (generally less than 0.1 ppm).
Water filtration: Many water filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) use an “activated carbon” filter that does not remove fluoride. Water filters that do remove fluoride include reverse osmosis, deionizers that use ion-exchange resin, and activated alumina.
Water Distillation: Distilling water is an effective way of removing fluoride from water. Whereas a water filter is installed directly into the sink, a distillation unit is a separate device that can be stored on your counter top.
More details on how to reduce your exposure to fluoride here.
Unfortunately, no. We prefer to remain independent and therefore do not make any recommendations regarding specific water filters. As a result, we don’t receive any commission or revenue for the direct or indirect sale of products or for the provision of advice. We do, however, provide general information on water filters and other ways to reduce your family’s exposure to fluoride and we do recommend all fluoride free toothpaste brands.
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