The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes water fluoridation as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century when, in reality, itâ€™s one its greatest failures. Yet, in the face of solid scientific evidence of harm, politics and public relations have kept the practice alive.
Proponents such as the American Dental Association and the Oral Health Division of the Centers for Disease Control have spent millions of dollars on promotion1 and public relations2 to sell fluoridation using half-truths and misleading talking points.
While the U.S. is still trying to hold on to the fallacy that water fluoridation is a public health service, itâ€™s one of the most widely rejected health interventions in the world, with 95% of the global population consuming nonfluoridated water.
Now, thanks to an abundance of new research, a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the sustained education efforts of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and its supporters, it looks like we may finally be looking at an end to this toxic practice.
In the video above, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of Childrenâ€™s Health Defense, interviews Michael Connett, an attorney for FAN who is leading the lawsuit against the EPA.
Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Act
Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) allows citizens and nongovernmental organizations to petition the EPA to remove toxic substances found to pose an â€œunreasonable riskâ€� either to the general population or a subset of that population.
Whatâ€™s more, it allows citizens and watchdog groups to present their case before a judge. That is what FAN did in this case, and itâ€™s the first time a citizenâ€™s group has ever brought a Section 21 TSCA petition all the way through to trial.
It began November 22, 2016, when 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 individuals, filed a petition3,4,5 calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to U.S. drinking water under Section 21 of the TSCA.
The petition was made on the grounds that a large body of research demonstrates fluoride is neurotoxic at doses within the range now seen in fluoridated communities, and included over 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing these health risks.
The EPA denied the petition6 February 27, 2017, on the grounds that it had failed to present â€œa scientifically defensible basisâ€� to conclude that anyone had in fact suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of fluoride exposure. In response, FAN and its coalition partners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, legally challenging the EPAâ€™s denial of their petition.
Fluoride on Trial
The trial began June 8, 2020.7 During the trial, Connett argued the EPA must, based on the evidence, eliminate the unreasonable risk of neurotoxicity posed by fluoride by banning the addition of fluoride to drinking water.
Interestingly, among the plaintiffsâ€™ expert witnesses were the EPAâ€™s own in-house experts on fluoride who, when asked to comment on the latest evidence, agreed that the animal data support the biological plausibility that fluoride causes neurotoxic effects in human beings.
Joyce Donahue, an EPA scientist with the Office of Water, also admitted that studies showing harm to the brain warrant a thorough reevaluation of the theory that bone and teeth are the most sensitive to fluoride damage.
Depositions by CDC officials, which took place in 2018, also confirmed the agency does not have any safety data on fluoride intake and neurotoxic effects. Neither does the EPA have safety data on fluoride intake and effects on the brain.
Connett asked the EPA to identify all studies that demonstrate or support the neurological safety of prenatal fluoride exposure. They produced one: A 1995 study in which the neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride was assessed in rats.
Ironically, this study, Connett points out, shows that neonatal fluoride exposure actually is neurotoxic to rats, and EPA scientists confirmed that this was indeed the case.
Recent Studies Confirm Harms to Children
The claims made by proponents of fluoridation that there are only â€œone or two studiesâ€� finding harm, or that they are only from areas with naturally high fluoride levels, are no longer relevant.
In reality, the scientific evidence can now be considered overwhelming and undeniable. In fact, the level of evidence that fluoride is neurotoxic now far exceeds the evidence that was in place when lead was banned from gasoline.
Evidence brought forth during the trial included some 300 animal and human studies, including several published in 2019 and 2020 that show water fluoridation poses a significant risk to childrenâ€™s brains and lowers IQ.
These studies are among the strongest yet, and are obviously relevant to water fluoridation as they were conducted in communities that have what the ADA considers an â€œoptimal levelâ€� of fluoride in drinking water:
Green 20198 â€” Published in JAMA Pediatrics, this study reported substantial IQ loss in Canadian children from prenatal exposure to fluoride from water fluoridation.
Riddell 20199 â€” Published in Environment International, this study found a shocking 284% increase in the prevalence of ADHD among children in fluoridated communities in Canada compared to nonfluoridated ones.
Malin 201910 â€” Published in Environmental Health, it linked a doubling of symptoms indicative of sleep apnea in adolescents in the U.S. to levels of fluoride in the drinking water. The link between fluoride and sleep disturbances may be through fluorideâ€™s effect on the pineal gland.
Malin 201911 â€” Published in Environment International. A second study by Malinâ€™s team reported that exposure to fluoridated water led to a reduction in kidney and liver function among adolescents in the U.S., and suggested those with poorer kidney or liver function may absorb more fluoride. The CDC funded this study.
Till 202012 â€” Published in Environment International, this study reported that children who were bottle-fed in Canadian fluoridated communities lost up to 9.3 IQ points compared to those in nonfluoridated communities.
Uyghurturk 202013 â€” Published in Environmental Health, it found that pregnant women in fluoridated communities in California had significantly higher levels of fluoride in their urine than those in nonfluoridated communities. The levels found in their urine were the same as those found to lower the IQ of the fetus in Green et al, 2019, and Bashash et al, 2017.14,15
The Bashash study,16,17 funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA, followed pregnant women and their babies for 12 years, measuring the fluoride in their urine, which reveals total exposure, regardless of the source. They found a strong relationship between the fluoride level in mothersâ€™ urine and IQ scores in their children at the ages of 4, and between 6 and 12.
Fluoride Is Neurotoxic
Whatâ€™s more, a draft systematic review published in 2020 by the National Toxicology Program, which included 149 human studies and 339 animal studies, concluded that fluoride was a â€œpresumedâ€� neurotoxin based on the large number, quality and consistency of brain studies.
This review did not include the three most recent neurotoxicity-related studies: Till 2019, Riddell 2019 and Uyghurturk 2020, the addition of which renders the evidence for neurotoxicity even more compelling.
While the draft NTP review is equivocal about effects at low exposures, these newest high-quality mother-child studies support a conclusion that artificially fluoridated water causes substantial IQ reductions. This fact was also highlighted in a letter18 published in Pediatric Research by the co-authors of the 2019 JAMA Pediatrics study, who wrote:19
â€œOver the past 75 years, health authorities have declared that community water fluoridation â€¦ is safe. Yet, studies conducted in North America examining the safety of fluoride exposure in pregnancy were nonexistent.
When a Canadian study reported that higher fluoride exposure in pregnant women was associated with lower IQ scores in young children, critics attacked the methodology of the study and discounted the significance of the results.
Health authorities continued to conclude that fluoride is unequivocally safe, despite four well-conducted studies over the last 3 years consistently linking fluoride exposure in pregnancy with adverse neurodevelopmental effects in offspring â€¦
The tendency to ignore new evidence that does not conform to widespread beliefs impedes the response to early warnings about fluoride as a potential developmental neurotoxin. Evolving evidence should inspire scientists and health authorities to re-evaluate claims about the safety of fluoride, especially for the fetus and infant for whom there is no benefit.â€�
Similarly, in a 2019 review,20 Danish scientist, Harvard professor and neurotoxicity expert Philippe Grandjean concluded:
â€œâ€¦ there is little doubt that developmental neurotoxicity is a serious risk associated with elevated fluoride exposure, whether due to community water fluoridation, natural fluoride release from soil minerals, or tea consumption, especially when the exposure occurs during early development.â€�
As early as 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) looked at the toxicology of fluoride, concluding that, based on the studies available at that time, fluoride poses a threat to the brain.21
Fluoride Suppresses Thyroid Function
As noted by Connett in the interview above, studies have also demonstrated that fluoride is an endocrine disruptor22 that suppresses thyroid function. This too can help explain some of the neurological damage seen from fluoride exposure.
For example, it is known that hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) during pregnancy can result in lowered IQ and other neurological deficits in their offspring. Studies23,24 have also shown fluoride can promote and exacerbate iodine deficiency.
In 2015, British researchers warned that 15,000 people may be needlessly afflicted with hypothyroidism in the U.K. as a result of drinking fluoridated water.25,26,27 Areas with fluoride levels above 0.3 mg/L had a 30% higher rate of hypothyroidism than nonfluoridated areas.
Fluorideâ€™s Toxic Past
In the interview, Connett and Kennedy also review and summarize the sordid history of how fluoride chemicals came to be added to water supplies in the first place. During the Manhattan Project, enormous amounts of fluoride chemicals were used in the processing of uranium for the atom bomb.
Records clearly show fluoride was a highly dangerous substance causing significant environmental harm. In 1946, farmers in Salem County sued the U.S. government for $400,000 in damages to peach crops caused by fluoride fumes traced back to a facility involved in the bomb-making process. Cattle were also killed.
As noted by Connett, the aluminum and bomb-making industries realized they had a serious problem on their hands and were facing staggering liability for fluoride pollution. As a result, you start to see a shift in the science at that time. Harmful effects on human health were suppressed, and potential benefits were being introduced â€” even before there was any safety data available whatsoever.
Too Much Fluoride Causes Dental Fluorosis
The fact of the matter is that fluoride is a toxic substance with no known biological imperative. Researchers have even questioned its efficacy as a topical anticaries prophylactic.28
Dental caries is caused by demineralization of your teeth by the acids formed during the bacterial fermentation of dietary sugars. Demineralization is countered by the deposit of minerals from your saliva. However, the remineralization process is a slow one, and fluoride is said to prevent dental caries by enhancing this remineralization.
The problem is your teeth do not actually rely on fluoride for remineralization. Whatâ€™s more, research29 has concluded that the protective shield fluoride forms on teeth is up to 100 times thinner than previously believed. It has long been believed that fluoride changes the main mineral in tooth enamel, hydroxyapatite, into a more decay-resistant material called fluorapatite.
However, the researchers found that the fluorapatite layer formed in this way is only 6 nanometers thick â€” meaning it would take almost 10,000 such layers to span the width of a human hair. As noted by the authors, â€œit has to be asked whether such narrow â€¦ layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel.â€�
Meanwhile, fluoride has been shown to cause significant systemic harm when ingested. This is why, in 2019, the CDC warned that 40% of children between the ages of 3 and 6 use potentially dangerous amounts of toothpaste. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times:30
â€œBrushing with too much toothpaste can damage enamel, as children could swallow too much fluoride while their teeth are developing, the CDC says. This can cause dental fluorosis, white marks and discoloration of teeth.â€�
If you look closely, youâ€™ll find fluoride-containing toothpastes have a warning on their label stating that â€œIf you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.â€�
This warning was made mandatory for fluoride-containing dental products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 1997.31 Ironically, while swallowing toothpaste is recognized as a cause for concern, weâ€™re supposed to believe that drinking fluoridated water at any quantity is not only safe, but beneficial for our teeth.
In reality, studies have found that children with fluorosis have increased rates of cavities32,33 â€” a finding that suggests more fluoride is definitely not better, not even when it comes to protecting against cavities.
Current Status of the Lawsuit
After the closing arguments were presented, the judge made several comments on the record, including that the evidence presented by plaintiffs raises serious questions about the policy to fluoridate water supplies, and that the EPA had illegitimately denied FANâ€™s 2016 petition for TSCA action. The judge also noted that â€œthe EPA, during these years of litigation, has used the wrong standard to assess this evidence,â€� Connett says.
In the end, the judge asked that the two parties agree to give the EPA the chance to reassess the evidence correctly, using the right standard of review. Connett expressed his concern to the Court that the EPA has a history of dragging its feet on this issue and that thereâ€™s enough evidence to take immediate protective action.
The judge in turn noted that he expects the EPA to conclude its re-evaluation within months, not years. Connett hopes they will be able to come to an agreement with the EPA, but if they donâ€™t, the judge has made it clear that he has the evidence and will make a ruling, if needed.
So, we still have to wait for the conclusion to this groundbreaking trial, but clearly, we are closer than weâ€™ve ever been to seeing an end to this tragic and unnecessary poisoning of millions of individuals.