Fluoridation Reconsidered

Last year, Hardy Limeback, announced that he no longer supports fluoridation of municipal drinking water. What makes this news is that Mr. Limeback is the Head of Preventative Dentistry at the University of Toronto and, for the previous 12 years, he was a leading proponent of fluoridation for the Canadian Dental Association.

"The message has to go out," Limeback stated, "Fluoride is a drug.... There hasn't been a single study to show that exposure over a lifetime is safe."

Limeback's change of heart came after a review of the scientific literature convinced him that there was little if any evidence that swallowing fluorides was a safe or effective means of protecting teeth. In his public statements, Limeback noted that "The 16-page report from the Earth Island Journal, 'Fluorides and the Environment' is a tremendous resource." [Copies available for 50 cents each (including postage) from Earth Island Journal.]

Fluoride is no longer recommended for babies from birth to six months. This means that parents in cities with mandatory fluoridation could be unknowingly exposing their babies to dangerous concentrations of fluoride compounds in tap water.

Dangerous levels of fluoride compounds also have been recorded in Minute Maid Orange Juice, Classic Coca Cola, Gerber's baby juices, white grape juice, Fruit Loops and Lucern non-fat milk.

The US Public Health Service's Toxicological Profile for Fluorides warns that the elderly and people with kidney and heart problems "may be unusually susceptible to the toxic effects of fluoride and its compounds."

The October 1999 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that a study of 144,000 elderly Finnish people established a link between fluoride levels greater than 1.5 mg/liter and hip fractures in women aged 50-64 years. John R. Lee, a physician and authority on fluoride and health maintains that "The scientific evidence clearly shows that fluoride damages bone even at levels added to public drinking water."

Evidence is mounting that fluoridation has failed to control tooth decay. Boston fluoridated its water supply in 1978. Last November, the Boston Globe reported that the city now faces a "Dental Crisis." According to the Globe, an unpublished 1996 study found that 90 percent of Boston's high schoolers had sought dental treatment and estimated that Boston teenagers had "four times more untreated cavities than the national average."

A 1999 study by the journal Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology found that children in the "fluoridated" town of Newburgh, New York, did not have fewer cavities than kids in nearby non-fluoridated towns but they did suffer from much higher rates of tooth disfiguring dental fluorosis.

The Newburgh kids may count themselves lucky. A 1992 study by the University of Arizona (published in the July 27, 1992 Chemical & Engineering News) reported finding that "the more fluoride a child drank, the more cavities appeared in the teeth."

On January 10, California Independent Assemblywoman Audie Bock introduced a bill to place restrictions on fluoridation in the state (AB 1729).

Noting that "the substances most widely used for water fluoridation programs are hydrofluosilicic acid and silicofluorides, Bock's bill would require that any fluoridation compounds added to public water supplies first must, (1) be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and, (2) be tested to assure that any complex combination of elements is broken down into harmless components when introduced into actual conditions found in end-result tap water." AB 1729 also would mandate that "no substance classified as a pesticide or hazardous waste shall be added to the public drinking water system."

"We must ensure the dental health of California's children," Bock stated. "However, we must also ensure that the chemicals we use do not themselves pose a severe health risk." --GS

© Earth Island Journal, summer 2000 issue

 

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