Friday, May 1, 2009

"Don't Drink the Water"

By Aliyah Finney

Fluoride has been marketed for years as a beneficial nutrient that helps to strengthen teeth, but there are many who believe that this is claim is a lie, marketed by the American government so they can continue selling this deadly compound.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is the reduced form of fluorine, an element used to produce uranium and other compounds. In the 18th and 19th centuries the fluoride’s impact on bones and teeth was studied and eventually the chemical was incorporated in dentistry. Today among toothpaste and drinking water, fluoride is found in infant formula, processed cereals, juice, soda, tea, wine, beer, mechanically separated chicken, seafood, Teflon, cigarettes and anesthetics. Fluoride is unique in the fact that it is the only chemical added to drinking water that does not purify or help clean and make the water safe for human consumption. The fluoride in drinking water is provided by “an industrial by-product from the phosphate fertilizer industry.”

Over the years the level of fluoride ingestion, due to its every growing includeance in many products and foods, has risen steadily and health concerns have grown as well.

Opposition

Recently those who are against fluoride usage have rallied together and become much more vocal about their goals. One of the most prominent and well known groups is The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) who is determined to inform the public of the “the toxicity of fluoride compounds and the health impacts of current fluoride exposures”.
The FAN have listed some a total of 50 reasons to oppose fluoride on their website, fluorideallert.org. Here are just a few:

- Fluoride is not an essential nutrient (NRC 1993 and IOM 1997). No disease has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency. Humans can have perfectly good teeth without fluoride.

- Fluoridation is not necessary. Most Western European countries are not fluoridated and have experienced the same decline in dental decay as the US (Data from the World Health Organization has confirmed these reports)

- Fluoridation's role in the decline of tooth decay is in serious doubt. The largest survey ever conducted in the US (over 39,000 children from 84 communities) by the National Institute of Dental Research showed little difference in tooth decay among children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities

- Despite being prescribed by doctors for over 50 years, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved any fluoride product designed for ingestion as safe or effective.

Although there is substantial arguments for the ineffectiveness fluoride, Amy Jonson, who is a spokeswoman for American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, reported that, as of 2000 “$10 billion is spent nationally on children's dentistry. Of the total, about 8 percent, or $800 million, is spent on topical fluoride treatments. Most dentists charge about $30 for fluoride treatments.”

Health Threat?

Too much fluoride exposure in children commonly results in a condition called dental fluorosis, which occurs when a child has been exposed to too much fluoride during the development of their teeth. In the most common forms, mild, white streaks appear on the teeth, but in more severe cases brown, permanent stains are apparent. Either way the enamel is affected, sometimes rough, pocked, and hard to clean.

Fomon SJ, Ekstrand J, Ziegler EE had this to say in 2000 “Based on this review, we conclude that fluoride intakes of infants and children have shown a rather steady increase since 1930, are likely to continue to increase, and will be associated with further increase in the prevalence of enamel fluorosis unless intervention measures are instituted." (Journal of Public Health Dentistry 60(3):131-9)

Hydrofluorosilicic acid, the fluoride in drinking water, is unlike the fluoride “used in toothpaste. Hydrofluorosilicic acid is not pharmaceutical-grade quality. It is an unpurified, industrial-grade, corrosive acid which has been linked, in several recent studies, to increased levels of lead in children’s blood.” It is also highly recommended that babies and those with kidney disease do not ingest fluoride due to sever health risks including bone disorders and brain defects.

Another threat and concern is the researched link between fluoride ingestion and cancer. The National Toxicology Program, an organization dedicated to furthering the research and evaluation of toxins, has listed fluoride as a mutagen; a compound that is found to cause genetic damage. Some even claim that high fluoride intake lowers intelligence. The Environmental Health News reported on findings in China in which children who drank well water, high in fluoride levels, scored much poorer on standardize test than those who did not.

“524 children (exposed and controls) aged 8 to 12 years old in China's Shanxi province for fluoride exposures [were examined] in relation to intellectual functioning and growth. The families were exposed to naturally occurring high concentrations of fluoride through well water. The children were compared to control children who were recruited from three nearby villages with uniformly low concentrations of fluoride in well water. All children lived in areas with similar geography, cultural conditions and socioeconomic development. “

According to the Fluoride Action Network, “the research on fluoride and the brain has been fueled by 18 human studies from China, India, Iran, and Mexico finding elevated levels of fluoride exposure to be associated with IQ deficits in children. Conclusion: High fluoride burden has a definite effect on the intellectual and physical development of children." (Wang S, et al. (2005). Effects of coal burning related endemic fluorosis on body development and intelligence levels of children. Journal of Applied Clinical Pediatrics.)

History

So how does a chemical like fluoride, with all of its supposed negative qualities, become labeled as “healthy” and even become an additive? It is believed by some that the American government is well aware of the adverse effects of fluoride, but continue to support it because of the revenue it creates for them. Some suggest the tactic began decades ago way back at the end of World War II.

"At the end of World War II, the US government sent Charles Eliot Perkins, a research worker in chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and pathology, to take charge of the vast Farben chemical plants in Germany. The German chemists told Perkins of a scheme which they had devised during the war and had been adapted by the German General Staff. The German chemists explained of their attempt to control the population in any given area through the mass medication of drinking water with sodium fluoride, a tactic used in German and Russian prisoner of war camps to make the prisoners "stupid and docile"(Stephen 1995).

“The ‘dental caries prevention myth’ associated with fluoride, originated in the United States in 1939, when a scientist named Gerald J. Cox, employed by ALCOA, the largest producer of toxic fluoride waste and at the time being threatened by fluoride damage claims, fluoridated some lab rats, concluded that fluoride reduced cavities and claimed that it should be added to the nation’s water supplies.

“Despite growing evidence that it is harmful to public health, US federal and state pubic health agencies and large dental and medical organizations such as the American Dental Association (ADA), continue to promote fluoride.” It is commonly believed that the government profits from fluoride production and use, which is why they are so advent about it’s positive properties.

Advocates

There are still those who stand behind the positive effects of fluoride. There are news articles dating back to the 1940’s, the time when fluoride was first to be added to drinking water, laden with opposition and debate.

Advocates of fluoride then and now claim to have testing that contradicts all of the points discussed by their opponents. For example, the National Cancer Institute studied 2.2 million people for a 15 year period and states “the researchers found no indication of increased cancer risk associated with fluoridated drinking water.” They also claimed that “the researchers found no indication of increased cancer risk associated with fluoridated drinking water. They also adamantly adhere to the belief that fluoride benefits teeth, a grave contradiction to the claim that there are not help benefits to the chemical what so ever. Supporters tend to be tied with the US Federal government, while the opponents are predominantly independent organizations.
Some dentists do not recommend cutting fluoride out of a child’s diet, despite the threat dental fluorosis, but rather to just monitor their intake.

There seems to be some concern about the government’s end for in 2003 the Water Act was passed, “which has made it impossible for water companies to undergo civil or criminal hearings as a result of adding fluoride to public water supplies.” Ultimately, water companies could not be held liable for any adverse health effects as a result of their drinking water.

Townships have the choice of whether or not to include fluoride in their water, and over half of the nation chose to do so. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allowed fluoride to be included in drinking water in order for due to its supposed aid to teeth health. “EPA has set an enforceable drinking water standard for fluoride of 4 mg/L (some people who drink water containing fluoride in excess of this level over many years could get bone disease, including pain and tenderness of the bones). EPA has also set a secondary fluoride standard of 2 mg/L to protect against dental fluorosis.”

The EPA seems to stand in the middle grounds, in which they attest that fluoride is beneficial in moderation, though even this claim has come under fire.

What Now?

With such contradictory research analysis and claims from both ends of the spectrum, the fluoride debate shows no signs of cooling down. Its usage and inclusion in food and other products is higher now than ever before. It seems that all that can be done is to educate the public, of which the majority is unaware that there are even issues surrounding fluoride, and let them draw their own sound conclusions.

Aiyah Finney is a sophomore at Rutgers University. She is double majoring in Journalism and Media Studies, as well as East Asian Studies with a concentration in Japanese. She is also perusing a minor in Linguistics. A native of Piscataway New Jersey, Aliyah plans to pursue a career in the marketing and management of foreign movies in North America.

1 comment:

  1. Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  It is continued in the dental Long Beach CA office by the efforts of Dr. Coates and our dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health.

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