The human body needs some basic elements to support life. These include carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. A few dozen other elements and a vast number of compounds are essential to our daily functioning—fluoride is not one of them. Fluoride is not required for any of the thousands of processes that are continuously regulated in our bodies to keep us balanced and healthy.
Some substances are used in water treatment to make it safe to drink, e.g. chlorine. Fluoride is the only substance added to our water supply to treat people. It is therefore being used as a medicine. Fluoride is the only medicine being prescribed without patient monitoring; and it is the only medicine being prescribed for all people, regardless of age, health or nutritional status.
Fluoride is also the only medicine being administered without any control over the dose. A glass of tap water makes no distinction between an 80 year-old woman weighing 50 kg and a 30 year-old man weighing 100 kg. And what of an outdoor worker who, in sweltering conditions, consumes in excess of 10 litres of water per day?
To grasp the foolishness of fluoridation’s “any-dose-fits-all” assumption, we may look to the best nutrition we know of—baby’s first meal. Fluoride is down-regulated in a nursing mother’s body to eliminate all but a miniscule amount from being passed to her baby. We would be arrogant in the extreme to think we could improve upon breast milk. Yet that is what fluoridation tries to do. By comparison, a formula-fed infant receives about 250 times as much fluoride as a breast-fed baby when the formula is reconstituted with fluoridated tap water.
This is a serious concern, given fluoride’s known neurotoxicity. Multiple studies have demonstrated neurological damage, impaired learning and memory, and permanent behavioural changes in animals exposed to moderate doses of fluoride. The impact of infant exposure to fluoride may be further appreciated by considering that:
To date, 49 studies have investigated a possible link between fluoride exposure and IQ. 42 of those 49 studies found elevated fluoride exposure is associated with reduced IQ. In 2012, a team of Harvard scientists reviewed 27 of those studies and found an IQ drop of 7 points between the ‘high’ and ‘low’ fluoride groups of each study on average. The authors of the Harvard review concluded that this should be made a high research priority, and in 2014 one of those lead authors, Philippe Grandjean, classified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxicant.
Most countries around the world have chosen not to fluoridate their water supplies, and many countries that did introduce the practice realised the mistake and stopped it, citing questions over fluoridation’s safety and effectiveness. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, over the last 40–50 years non-fluoridated countries have shown the same decline in rates of tooth decay as fluoridated countries.
Imposing any medication on whole populations is ethically questionable. In water fluoridation, we have a medicine prescribed for all people which is unregulated by any health agency, unmonitored for patient side-effects, untested for safety and unproven for effectiveness.
I believe the situation needs the public’s attention, and many others share that conviction. For this purpose I, together with my co-organiser Simon De Pomeroy, a concerned High School teacher, have organised a first-class public seminar: “Water Fluoridation – exploring the science”. We have invited the Australian Dental Association and Sydney University Dental Faculty to argue the case “for”, along with 5 PhD scientists in chemistry and toxicology, and medical and dental practitioners to argue the case “against”. This unique event will explore the science behind water fluoridation and equip you with the knowledge to make your own informed decision on the issue.
Dr Ron Ehrlich Dentist, Sydney.