According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2008, 72.4% of the United States population had access to fluoridated drinking water in their homes. And despite the controversy surrounding this practice the Healthy People Objective 2010 aimed to make this percent even higher with a goal set of 75% of the United States population having access to fluoridated drinking water by 2010.
Do you have public drinking water? Then chances are it has fluoride added to it. Do you have well water? Many people with well water who have young children are given fluoride drops to give to their children to compensate for this lack of fluoride in their water. But is this a good idea?
The addition of fluoride to water was a practice that began in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This practice was started to help prevent tooth decay in the general public in the most effective and cost efficient way. It’s the only drug that’s put into the general publics’ food or water supplies.
Fluoride is a chemical ion that is derived from the element fluorine. It is found in other minerals, soils, water, and some foods naturally. As you know it is also added to the public drinking water supplies in the United States.
Fluoride is most commonly associated with preventing tooth decay. It is thought to work in two ways; first by interfering in the decay process of the teeth from food and sugars that form into acids and erode teeth, and second by re-mineralizing already decaying teeth.
Fluoride is also found in toothpastes and mouthwashes.
While many support fluoride as beneficial to prevent tooth decay, others are concerned that adding fluoride to drinking water is unnecessary and in fact, harmful.
Those against adding fluoride to drinking water remind us that having too much fluoride can cause many more health issues than just problems with the teeth. And, when we do consume too much fluoride, the teeth can actually suffer as a result.
Fluorosis is an all too common problem often found in children who receive too much fluoride. Fluorosis shows as discolored teeth; brown, yellow, or even white spots on the teeth are evidence of fluorosis.
It’s important to remember that we are not just getting fluoride from our drinking water (if yours is public), toothpaste, and mouthwashes, but also in our foods that either naturally contain fluoride or have been cooked in water containing fluoride.
Too much fluoride is a serious health concern.
Are You Getting Too Much Fluoride?
Too much fluoride is a concern not just because of fluorosis but because of its serious health implications. Research continues to show that this is something we all need to take a closer look at to determine if drinking fluoridated water is the best choice.
In a press release printed in Reuters on January 2, 2008 a newly released study reported health problems from fluoride. Scientific American reported the following:
“Some recent studies suggest that over-consumption of fluoride can raise the risks of disorders affecting teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland,”
And almost all of us are being exposed to this risk many times with no knowledge of this threat. According to Paul Beeber, President of New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, fluoride is the most widely consumed drug in the United States.
One of the worries is that there is no standard, acceptable level of fluoride that’s safe to consume. Many researchers think that the current 1 mg added to drinking water is too high.
As stated by Scientific American above, too much fluoride is now being shown to cause many serious health problems. From the brain to the bones to the delicate thyroid gland, fluoride can alter the body chemistry and in many ways pollute it causing health issues that are just beginning to be discovered.
In one fluoride study in Iowa (Iowa Fluoride Study) 700 children were tracked for sixteen years according to study director Steven Levy. The results? According to Levy children who lived in areas with fluoridated water showed a fifty percent higher rate of having mild fluorosis. Remember fluorosis is a sign of too much fluoride. This should be a warning of more serious, undiscovered health problems.
Sources of Fluoride You Probably Don’t Know About
One of the problems with fluoride is that we really can’t determine how much we’re getting and how much is too much. Long term over-exposure to fluoride is cited as the root of many health problems.
Fluoride isn’t just in your toothpaste. It’s in many more products than you’ve ever imagined. According to the Fluoride Action Network or FAN (a non profit organization seeking to educate the public and policy makers about the dangers of fluoride supported by the American Environmental Health Studies Project (AEHSP,) fluoride is found in the following products:
- Tap water
- Infant formula
- Fruit juices
- Deboned chicken
- Teflon pans
- Fluoridated salt
As this list reveals, fluoride is getting into our systems from numerous sources. Do we really need a mass drugging of our waters or can we make our own informed choices about adding more fluoride to our bodies?
It’s also important to note that one of the most commonly used pesticides contains guess what? Fluoride. This fluoride is found in the pesticide cryolite which is used on more than thirty different fruits and vegetables.
Interestingly most of Europe has chosen to eliminate the mass fluoridation of public drinking water and leave it up to its citizens to determine where and how much fluoride they ingest.
Studies Reveal Brain, Thyroid, and other Adverse Health Concerns
In 2002 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to investigate fluoride dosages and the current standard level in the United States. These levels are referred to as the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal or MCLG. The current MCLG is 4mg/L. On March 22, 2006, NRC reported that the MCLG in the United States is not low enough to prevent adverse health effects and recommended this level to be lowered.
There were five main health concerns revealed in this investigation. They were as follows:
5 Health Problems from Fluoride as reported by NRC
This previously thought to be only a cosmetic problem is now reported to be an ‘adverse health effect’ and occurs when the MCLG is at just 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L.
All twelve members of the NRC committee agreed that too much fluoride weakens bones which lead to fractures.
Similar to arthritis, symptoms are joint pain, stiffness, and weakness.
The NRC found that among other endocrine problems, the thyroid function was one of the most significant. Disrupted thyroid function was found when fluoride dosages were just 0.05 to 0.13 mg/L per day.
Neurotoxicity and Neurobehavioral Effects
Lower IQ, behavioral concerns, Alzheimer-like symptoms are all connected in animal studies and human studies out of China from fluoride particularly when found in conjunction with aluminum.
These are all reported to the EPA by the NRC in its investigation. While many cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the evidence is in and growing.
Options to Fluoridated Water
Whether you’re convinced or not that the water you’re drinking could be putting your health at risk you may want to make a change. Sometimes it’s too late by the time all the evidence is in and we just have to trust our instincts, our guts.
If you currently drink fluoridated tap water I recommend that you invest in a high quality whole house water filter. (Remember the skin can absorb many chemicals from bathing too.)
There are also filters sold for just drinking water to remove fluoride. Be sure you’re investing in a filter that removes fluoride; many of the more commonly found on the market like Brita, Pur, etc don’t remove fluoride.
It’s up to you. Decide for yourself what you put in your body through your drinking water or let the government decide for you. When it comes to your health it’s vital to make the right choices – don’t let someone else do it for you and your loved ones.
Dr. Axe's Action Steps
- Switch to a natural toothpaste and mouthwash that does not contain fluoride.
- Decrease your intake of fluoride from water and the other sources listed above.
- Spread the word! Young children are especially susceptible to problems from too much fluoride.
- Invest in a high quality water filter that removes fluoride from your drinking water and shower.