Communities fighting to get fluoride out of drinking water came to Washington, DC, in unity with advocates impacted by chemical contamination across the nation. A landmark federal lawsuit was filed to prohibit the addition of fluoride in drinking water. Fluoride, also known as Hydrofluorosilicic Acid, comes from the phosphate industry and is contaminated with toxins like aluminum, lead, and arsenic. Central Florida has some of the largest deposits in the world. In the process of mining, it creates liquid waste from pollution scrubbers that convert toxic vapors into Fluorosilicic Acid. What is being added to drinking water systems across America is transported from Florida fertilizer factories. Without fluoridation, the phosphate industry would be stuck with an expensive waste disposal problem.
An Industrial Waste Produced by the Phosphate Industry Known as "Fluoride?"
Unlike pharmaceutical-grade fluoride in toothpaste, the fluoride in your water is an untreated industrial waste produced by the phosphate industry. Saying yes to this "fluoride" means you support one of Central Florida's biggest polluters contributing to the destruction of Florida's environment and water quality.
Fertilizers created by the phosphate mining companies contribute to nutrient pollution, which causes uncontrolled algae growth, leading to harmful blooms. These blooms have led to fish kills and negative impacts on Florida's ecosystem. Chemical fertilizers contain phosphates and nitrates that can cause havoc on water systems.
Is your Representative being Targeted by Fluoride Lobbyists?
When the fluoridation of drinking water first began in 1945, fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash weren't available. The CDC and dental associations stated that toothpaste was effective. On August 1, 1960, the American Dental Association (ADA) reported, "Crest is an effective decay preventative of significant value when used."
The same association fights to add hydrofluorosilicic acid into drinking water systems but has lobbied against improved access to dental care in underserved areas that would make routine checkups and fillings more affordable.
Lobbyists and members of various organizations show up to commission meetings where representatives consider taking fluoride out of their community drinking water system. Nearly 31 million dollars go directly into the hands of the organizations, lobbyists, and community leaders that promote the expansion of fluoridation. They put immense pressure on leaders to keep adding hydrofluorosilicic acid into community drinking water, even though they don't live in the communities where they promote this.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide $6.2 million in grants annually for the next four years to 21 states to "improve state oral health service," such as community water fluoridation. The $31 million the CDC is awarding in grants over five years is all taxpayer money approved by Congress for the CDC's budget.
Many argue that this money could be invested in giving low-income access to affordable dental care, nutrition, and infrastructure, which affects drinking water quality.
Children Exposed to Too Much Fluoride
Three out of four Americans are drinking water with added fluoride. Lobbyists seem to target low-income families and children as a way of justifying putting hydrofluorosilicic acid into communities' water supply because it's an added layer of protection for those who don't brush their teeth. Yet, those kids who brush their teeth risk dental fluorosis. According to the Environmental Health Perspective, dental fluorosis in the United States has increased during the last 30 years. 41% of children in the United States, where water has been fluoridated, have varying degrees of dental fluorosis. The EPA also concluded that it is likely that some children are exposed to too much fluoride at least occasionally while their teeth are forming because of their high fluid intake relative to their body weight.
The Academy of Medical Sciences shows that adults retain around 36% fluoride. In comparison, children retain approximately 50% of fluoride; 99% is contained in mineralized tissues (bone and teeth), with 1% found in soft tissue.
The U.S. government recreated its recommended level of fluoride in drinking water for the first time in a half-century in 2015 to prevent staining of tooth enamel caused by overexposure to fluoride.
Using Our Water System to Add Medicine
Although the CDC is paid to promote fluoridation, they also state that it is not their task to determine what fluoride levels in water are safe. The government's only role in drinking water is to ensure it's clean. Adding hydrofluorosilicic acid is an ethical issue that doesn't allow communities to choose whether or not they want these chemicals added to specific health treatments. That is why many are now asking their local governments to remove fluoride from their drinking water supply. In 2020 scientists suggested that lithium be added to the drinking water supply to prevent suicides. Just as fluoridation began, this study showed that areas with naturally occurring lithium with high levels in public drinking water had correspondingly lower suicide rates. What is stopping the government from adding another chemical for medical purposes? These kinds of health discoveries and suggestions are something to consider when advocating for adding artificial chemicals to the water that doesn't serve to clean it.
The Lack of Regulations and Chemicals in the United States
Historically, the government hasn't been the best at regulating harmful chemicals or holding polluters accountable. As far back as the '40s, radium was mass-produced and put into consumer products across the country. Radium was even put into toothpaste. The Radium Dial Company repeatedly told factory workers that paint with radium was harmless and hid the harmful effects while their teeth crackled out, their jaws were deformed, and they suffered immense pain from ingesting radium. The factory workers who exposed the dangers were ridiculed, attacked, and had to fight to uncover the truth. Another example is the powerful pesticide DDT. Rachel Carson, a renowned marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), wrote about the dangers of DDT and how it entered the food chain and accumulated in human beings, causing cancer and genetic damage. Currently, PFAS chemicals have contaminated the world, and internal documents with companies like DuPont show they knew the chemicals were harmful to humans. An attorney, Rob Bilott, spent a decade fighting and helping uncover the chemical pollution and health effects these chemicals cause. In all these cases, these chemicals were not regulated. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed in 1976 after 62,000 chemicals were in commerce. Those chemicals can stay on the market until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds they pose an unreasonable risk. The EPA has only studied a handful of chemicals since then, banning five chemicals. Nearly all substance the industry want to take and sell are allowed because of the lack of toxicity data.
In 2020, a landmark federal lawsuit went to trial against the Environmental Protection Agency to require local water utilities to stop adding fluoride to tap water. The suit claims that fluoridated drinking water presents an unreasonable risk to public health and can harm the developing brain of young children and babies. Renowned public health experts like Dr. Philippe Grandjean question ingesting fluoride safety through drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agencies' drinking water standard differs from the Department of Health, and Human Services recommended optimal fluoridation level because the two benchmarks have different purposes and are set under different authorities. The fluoride allowed in public water supplies is 4.0 milligrams per liter, even though the health and Human Services recommended an optimal level of 0.7 milligrams per liter to promote the health benefits of fluoride for preventing tooth decay while minimizing the chance of dental fluorosis.
Full Links & Additional Reading:
A new perspective on metals and other contaminants in fluoridation chemicals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4090869/ CDC Division of Oral Health: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/about/index.html