Posts Tagged ‘fluoride’

Fluoride, Monsanto, No Kill, & The China Study

May 27, 2014


I can’t count the number of times that I have been discussing GM crops with someone only to get the response, “Oh, I have no problem with the technology, it is just Monsanto that is really bad…” and what generally follows is a re-hashing of all the common half-truths, myths, and conspiracy theories surrounding the company. It can be hard to point out the unsupported nature of these claims without seeming like a corporate fan boy or shill, but we can’t unskeptically give into our knee-jerk anti-corporate sentiments. As the Pythgorean Crank says in his latest post titled We Are All Monsanto,

I hate to sound like a corporate defender or apologist. What a weird position I find myself in. The worst of Monsanto’s offenses may be the sum of its parts and that’s always been a problem of big business. We should be wary and resolute in business ethics. But lets not cry wolf lest that wolf finally sneak past us…

This is just getting into 9/11 truther territory now. None of the charges levied against Monsanto are unique, inherent or evil. Just the same with the vilification of GMOs. Huh, imagine that. Others are discovering the same and sharing their stories. We don’t have to throw Monsanto under the bus in order to reach out to the GMO haters. Let’s not be complicit in fanning the flames of yet another conspiracy theory.

Madagascar Against Monsanto Prank:

Ever wonder what depths of ignorance and gullibility that the anti-GMO movement can sink to? A recent prank by a young man from Madagascar tested just that…and the March Against Monsanto folks fell for it hook, line, & sinker*. Eventually the prankster outed the hoax,

To my new friends from March Against Monsanto:

I apologize, I have tricked you for many days now, and I must now stop because I am getting scared of your community, and even though I do not respect your ways, you are humans and I feel bad tricking you into thinking I am one of your group. You mean well, but you are not using science in a good way to help Madagascar.

There was no March Against Monsanto (MAM) in Madagascar. I made the signs and gave them to my friends to see what your group would say. My teacher (who does not agree with this project because of the trickery) told me that your group will accept almost anything regardless of the scientific process, this was my experiment to see if he is correct. In my opinion, he is correct, and your group should not have the same respect as people who are careful about their science. When we talk about science, we must be very careful how we use peoples emotions, otherwise it is manipulation…

You can read the full story here.

*wait…that’s not very vegan

Fluoride & IQ Update:

Not that I expect it to change anyones mind but there is a new study published examining the effects of childhood fluoride exposure on neurological development. Unlike previous research on the issue such as the oft cited “Harvard study” which looked at exposure from uncontrolled sources such as coal burning and ground water, this study examines exposure from sources more typical of community fluoridation and dental health programs. In short the study found that,

These findings do not support the assertion that fluoride in the context of CWF programs is neurotoxic. Associations between very high fluoride exposure and low IQ reported in previous studies may have been affected by confounding, particularly by urban or rural status.

You can read more about this study over at the NeuroLogica blog.

No Kill?:

The No Kill vs. Open Admission model of sheltering has become a major issue and source of division among some animal advocates. In this new article the author attempts to parse the two and wonders if there is perhaps a middle ground between the most vocal sides of the debate.

Behind the vitriol, the two sides agree on many things. Shelters should have partnerships with rescue groups and veterinarians. They should be staffed with caring volunteers who look for good homes, not just any home. They should offer animals exercise and attention. They should actively push spay and neuter programs. If you’re looking for a shelter to support, these are the things you should care about. They are what make the difference between a good shelter and a bad shelter. You may be able to avoid the difficult philosophical question of whether euthanizing shelter animals is humane.

No-kill is a truly admirable goal, but it only works when a community is willing to back it with time and money, and to open their homes to unwanted animals. If that doesn’t happen, no-kill can become a very dangerous slogan. If a shelter can’t guarantee a good home to an animal, is it right to keep it alive in a cage, or bouncing back and forth between the shelter and a bad home? Or is it better to give the animal a quick death? I suppose only a dog could answer that question.

Read the full article at Slate.

The China Study Again:

The folks at The Reality Check podcast tackled The China Study in their latest episode. This study, or rather best-selling book, and its father-son team of authors  have become quite popular in the vegan community since the book appears to make a strong case for the total avoidance of animal protein for personal health. But does the data actually support the authors conclusions?” Not really, but to find out more listen to the episode here.


Fluoride and Fish

May 12, 2013

While the early years of the anti-fluoridation movement were dominated by conservative voices, anti-fluoridationists can now be found across the political spectrum. In Portland, OR (which is set to vote on fluoridation this month) the opposition is fairly diverse, coming from both the left, and the right, and well as from some more politically unaffiliated voices. Aside from the usual arguments about “health freedom”, a traditionally right-wing movement that still finds much support in the vegan community, activists in Portland have also been pushing the environmental argument fairly hard, with their central concern being the health of the Columbia River and the salmon populations it supports. Activists have even enlisted the support of some smaller environmental organizations such as the Oregon Sierra Club’s Columbia Group and Columbia Riverkeeper giving their claims an air of credibility.

While I certainly can appreciate a more bio-centric approach to the issue, I still find the arguments put forward by the fluoridation opponents to be unconvincing. To support their claim anti-fluoridationists point to a 1989 study by David M. Damkaer and Douglas B. Dey published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management that purports to find a safety threshold for salmon exposed to concentrations of fluoride as low as 0.2 ppm. But on closer inspection this study is problematic and does not offer any conclusive evidence. A more recent review from the British Columbia Environmental Protection Division suggested a conservative safety threshold twice that of Damkaer and Dey (0.4ppm). But what does this mean in the context of water fluoridation? How much will the fluoridation of Portland’s public water raise levels in the Columbia River?

Some fluoridation opponents have noted that the expected concentration of fluoride added to Portland’s public water supply will be nearly four times the limit proposed by Damkaer and Dey, and that sewage effluent can exceed this limit even further. However Portland will not be directly fluoridating the Columbia River and despite concerns about run-off, this source is insignificant and is highly diluted by the time it makes it into the Columbia. Nor will Portland simply discharge untreated sewage into the river, that in itself would be a major environmental concern. Waste water is first treated, where around half of the fluoride content may be removed. From there waste water will then be diluted to less than 0.2 ppm fluoride in the mixing zone before heading downstream and diffusing further. A back-of-the-envelope calculation based on the work of John Osterman accounting for flow rate of the Columbia, waste water flow rate, and background fluoride levels shows no more than a 0.00047 ppm change in fluoride concentrations in the river as a result of fluoridation. This is well below any dangerous level for salmon or their prey and would be undetectable against background fluoride levels. A 2004 review of the literature by Howard F. Pollick published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health offers further support for the pro-fluoridation side, concluding, “[t]here appears to be no concern about the environmental aspects of water fluoridation among those experts who have investigated the matter”.

Further Reading:

Environmental Effects of Fluoridation: City Club of Portland

Why Salmon Have Nothing to Fear from Fluoridation by carmackart

How Some on the Right use Fluoride to Co-opt the Left by carmackart

You Can’t Handle the Tooth: Why the far right and left have come together to defeat fluoride. By Marty Smith

Evaluating the impact of municipal water fluoridation on the aquatic environment.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Fluoridation Resolution Environmental Checklist

City of Port Angeles Municipal Water Fluoridation Environmental Checklist

Fluoridation Conspiracy in the Bay Area

March 25, 2013

Last Friday I had the opportunity to go and observe an anti-fluoridation march and symposium in San Francisco held by a group calling themselves Get The F Out (with the “F” standing for fluoride). The real draw was that the main presentation was to be given by no other than Dr. Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network. I couldn’t miss that. Check out my guest post on the event over at Conspiracy Check.

Get The F Out march

Get The F Out march

Water Fluoridation: A Communist Plot? A Nazi Scheme?

March 7, 2013

For over six decades Americans have enjoyed the dental benefits of public water fluoridation. Yet, from its very beginning, sectors of the America public have expressed various concerns over the practice. While some of these concerns are not unreasonable, the over-all history of public opposition to fluoridation has been filled with wild claims, distortions, and conspiracy theories. Perhaps the most recognizable of these fringe claims is the idea that water fluoridation represents a “communist plot.”

The belief that fluoridation began as a “communist plot” was pervasive throughout much of the early far-right opposition to fluoridation. This should not surprise many who are familiar with the Red Scare of the ‘forties and ‘fifties; when fears of communist infiltration where rampant. In The Fluoride Wars: How a Modest Public Health Measure Became America’s Longest Running Political Melodrama, authors R. Allan Freeze and Jay H. Lehr make the following observation:

“One can also identify a historical time line associated with these objections, wherein each issue mirrors the tenor of its times. In the 1950s, wary citizens worried about communist plots. The 1960s saw a growth in concern over military–industrial conspiracies. The 1970s placed fluoridation in an environmental context. The issues of the 1980s and 1990s reflected societal obsessions with personal health, beauty, and aging. Even the diseases targeted by anti-fluoridation forces reflect the fears of the day, as early concerns over Down’s syndrome gave way to anxiety over heart disease, then cancer, and now AIDS.”

However, while new conspiracy theories and arguments have popped up over the decades, this belief still persists to some extent in the echo-chambers of the online anti-fluoridation community. Yet, this belief is little more than a myth based on the flimsiest of evidence. Even Paul Connett, who heads up the Fluoride Action Network, a major anti-fluoridation organization, and co-author of The Case Against Fluoride, has said,

“The historical evidence for this assertion is extremely weak. It is sad that the U.S. media has done such a bad job of educating the public on this issue that it is so easy for crazy ideas to fill the vacuum.”

I agree with Connett that the media certainly holds some of the blame; in part for their insistence on giving fringe claims some degree of credibility through false balance. But, after examining the available evidence it seems clear to me that another major factor in the continuation of this and other myths is due in large part to the uncritical and conspiratorially minded personalities that subjects such as fluoridation attract. Rather than simply dismiss such an outlandish story, however, proper skepticism dictates that we examine it a little closer. When researching the topic four names come up over and over again; Charles E Perkins, George Racey Jordan, Kenneth Goff, Emanuel Bronner.

Charles E Perkins

In 1952, American fluoridation opponent Charles Perkins published The Truth about Water Fluoridation, a 44 page treatise on the evils of water fluoridation. In this book he makes the claim, with no supporting evidence, that, “Mass medication, involving fluoridation of public water systems, has long been known as an important technique of the Communist philosophy of mass control,” and that it “was taken to England by the English-born Russian Communist Kreminoff in 1935.” When later asked for clarification and documentation on this claim, Perkins responded with a letter in 1954 that simply added a new layer of complexity. According to Perkins fluoridation was not just a Communist plot, but had actually found its genesis in Nazi Germany,

When the Nazis under Hitler decided to go into Poland, both the German General Staff and the Russian General Staff exchanged scientific and military ideas, plans, and personnel, and the scheme of mass control through water medication was seized upon by the Russian Communists because it fitted ideally into their plan to communize the world.”

While nowadays the claim that Stalin or Hitler utilized fluoride as a mass tranquilizer is mostly relegated to the world of conspiracy forums and alternative health blogs, it has occasionally reached more mainstream public media and the halls of government. One much cited example was a statement by Harley R. Dickinson, Liberal Party Member of the Victorian Parliament for South Barwon, Australia. In his 1987 address to the Victorian Legislative council Mr. Dickinson cited claims made by Perkins,

“At the end of the Second World War, the United States Government sent Charles Elliot Perkins, a research worker in chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and pathology, to take charge of the vast [IG] Farben1 chemical plants in Germany. While there, he was told by German chemists of a scheme which had been worked out by them during the war and adopted by the German General Staff…This scheme was to control the population in any given area through mass medication of drinking water. In this scheme, sodium fluoride occupied a prominent place”

This statement is a good example of how Perkins’ unsupported claims get uncritically parroted by fluoridation opponents. Interestingly, his book The Truth about Water Fluoridation makes no mention of Nazi Germany or IG Faben, a major producer of poison gas during the war. It is rather the 1954 letter around which the Nazi-fluoride conspiracy theory revolves. Yet, like his book, the 1954 letter on which the above statement is based offers not a single shred of verifiable evidence on the subject. Rather than provide “further documentation”, as we are promised, all we are given is a second hand story from an unnamed source. In addition to a lack of evidence for the claims made in his book and letter, it is also hard to even verify the claim that Perkins was put in charge of IG Farben. He makes no mention of IG Farben in his 1952 book and the legal documents for the Faben war crimes trial make no mention of him or of fluoridation.

Perhaps inspired by Perkins’ letter, another similar claim; copy and pasted across numerous anti-fluoridation websites it states,

“The first occurrence of fluoridated drinking water on Earth was found in Germany`s Nazi prison camps. The Gestapo had little concern about fluoride`s supposed effect on children`s teeth; their alleged reason for mass-medicating water with sodium fluoride was to sterilize humans and force the people in their concentration camps into calm submission. (Ref. book: “The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben” by Joseph Borkin.)”

The reference given is to the book The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben by Joseph Borkin, the onetime chief of the Patent and Cartel section of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice in Washington. It was reported that through his wartime investigation and prosecution of IG Farben that he came to know “more about I. G. than anyone outside of it.” Yet, in his book he makes not a single mention of fluoridation or of Charles Perkins. While IG Farben’s actual wartime activities were atrocious, there appears to be absolutely no evidence that they were ever involved in any scheme to fluoridate water as a form of social control.

George Racey Jordan

Major George R Jordan was a US military liaison officer for the Lend-Lease Program between the Soviets and the U.S during WWII. He came to public attention when in 1949 he accused the Roosevelt administration smuggling nuclear secrets to the Soviets; charges which were later rejected after investigation by Congress and ridiculed in Time magazine. But, conspiracy theories of infiltration of the US government and general anti-Communist fears were rampant in those days and many on the far right eagerly bought into Jordan’s sensational stories. His 1952 memoir detailing these events, From Major Jordan’s Diaries, was soon a classic among far right organizations such as the John Birch Society. Jordan subsequently became a sought after speaker at conferences for various far right groups. In one such speech to the Thirtieth Women’s Patriotic Conference on National Defense in 1956 Jordan states,

“During the war I learned how the Soviets used fluorides in the drinking water of Siberian prison camps to weaken the minds of their prisoners, to make them dull, cowlike and more resigned to their slavery.”

But while fluoridation opponents like to point to the transcript of this speech, it offers no actual evidence for the claim and appears to be little more than a tall tale. Casting further doubt onto the veracity of the story is that Jordan apparently didn’t feel it important enough to include anything about the Soviets and fluoride in his 1952 memoir. From all available sources it appears that he only started making the claim many years after supposedly learning about it. If, as he claims, he learned this information during the war, why did he only begin mentioning it years later? To a critical reader, Jordan comes off as an untrustworthy conspiracy theorist who constructed a story over time. As Drew Pearson notes in an expose titled, “Facts Don’t Back Jordan’s Charges”, in the Wilmington News, Dec 8, 1949: “Jordan is no amateur at peddling stories to the newspapers. In fact, he has spent most of his life in the public relations field.”`

Kenneth Goff

Perhaps the most colorful character in this strange story is Kenneth Goff. In his 1948 book, Confessions of Stalin’s Agent, he relates the story of his recruitment to the Communist Party of the United States of America in 1936 and subsequent defection in 1939. Upon leaving the Communist Party, Goff enthusiastically testified before the Dies Committee, the predecessor to the infamous House Committee Investigating Un-American Activities, thus beginning his career of paranoid anti-communist activism. Trading in Stalin for Christ, he soon gained a reputation as a “self-styled freelance Evangelist” of a white supremacist flavor of Christianity, called Christian Identity. Allying himself with Gerald L. K. Smith, a well known anti-Semitic preacher of the day, he soon held influential positions in various far-right and anti-Semitic organizations of the day: the Colorado Anti-Communist League, Christian Youth for America, National Youth Organization, Soldiers of the Cross, and the Washington-based Liberty Lobby. Afraid that his radical change of heart was a clever cover story, the FBI kept their eye on Goff, who they later came to regard as a “borderline psychopathic case.”

Over the next years Goff toured the nation writing and delivering lectures with paranoid themes such as: Treason in our State Department, Should we use the Atom Bomb?, Red Secret Plot for Seizure of Denver, and Do the Reds Plan to Come by Alaska? He soon became well know for his sensational fabrications; a number of which are detailed in Morris Komisky’s 1970 book, The Hoaxers: Plain Liars, Fancy Liars and Damned Liars, where he calls Goff, “one of the most dangerous Ultra-Rightist propagandist in the country.” In Goff’s world everything was a Communist plot to destroy white-Christian America, desegregation, dope, violent movies, mental healthcare, hippies, ufo scares2, and of course water fluoridation.

Among his many imaginative works, Goff wrote a publicly notarized statement in 1957 which has subsequently circulated among fluoridation opponents. In the letter he tells of how earlier involvement with the Communist party and that during some meetings,

“We discussed quite thoroughly the fluoridation of water supplies and how we were using it in Russia as a tranquilizer in the prison camps. The leaders of our school felt that if it could be induced into the American water supply, it would bring-about a spirit of lethargy in the nation; where it would keep the general public docile during a steady encroachment of Communism.”

While this letter sets out the now familiar story line of fluoridation as a Communist infiltration plot, it offers hardly any evidence to examine. In fact this appears to be one of the first mentions by Goff on the topic. His 1948 memoir, Confessions of Stalin’s Agentis strangely silent on this issue. Adding even further doubt to his story is the lack of any mention of the fluoridation issue in his 1939 congressional testimony.

“Dr.” Emanuel Bronner

It is at this point down the rabbit hole that we run into a familiar figure in vegan circles, the late “Dr.” Emanuel Bronner. Yes, that “Dr.” Bronner, of Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps All-One! Bronner’s connection to this story comes through a letter he wrote in which he states that, “Fluoridation of water systems can be slow national suicide, or quick national liquidation. It is criminal insanity ——- treason!!” The rambling, conspiracy laden letter repeats a number of common anti-fluoridation claims but interestingly it actually never claims that the Soviets or Nazis used fluoridated water in their prison camps. Rather, the only mention of either is in one brief passage reading, “No wonder Hitler and Stalin fully believed and agreed from 1939 to 1941 that, quoting from both Lenin’s ‘Last Will’ and Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “America we shall demoralize, divide, and destroy from within.”

That anti-fluoridation activists actually cite this letter is a bit laughable. In addition to not actually providing any support for the conspiracy, the quote given appears to simply be fabricated. To make matters worse, every website accompanies it with the same bogus introduction: “Quoting Einstein`s nephew, Dr. E.H. Bronner (a chemist who had also been a prisoner of war during WWII) in a letter printed in The Catholic Mirror, Springfield, MA, January 1952” Yet, Bronner immigrated to the US 1929 and was never a prisoner of war. He also was not a “Dr.” or a “chemist”, having never obtained a degree in chemistry. But what of the claim that he was “Einstein`s nephew”? When his son Ralph was asked in a 2007 interview whether there was any truth to the story he stated, “We are remotely related, like a tenth cousin. Dad had an ego problem. He exaggerated.”

Bronner’s 1952 letter and overall position on fluoridation are easier to understand if you know a little about his personal history. After leaving his family in Germany and immigrating to the US is 1929 Bronner took various jobs with several different chemical manufactures and soap makers. He soon married and would eventually have three children. Over those early years Bronner desperately tried to convince the rest of his family to flee the rising Nazi threat in their homeland but to no avail. In 1944 the Nazi government nationalized his family’s soap making factory and shipped his mother and father off to Auschwitz and Theriesenstadt where they eventually perished. Adding to his sorrow, not long after receiving word of his parents’ deaths, his wife Paula also died, leaving behind Bronner and their three children. The stress of it all was too much to handle and an already eccentric Bronner descended into madness. It was at this point that he adopted the “Dr.” moniker and began claiming to be a Rabbi. Leaving his children in the care of foster homes, he began touring and lecturing across the country about his plan to unite humanity, culminating in his 1947 at the University of Chicago and institutionalized in the Elgin State Insane asylum. But Bronner mounted several escapes, and on the last one hightailed it for California where in 1948 he began selling the first incarnation of what would become his famous soap.

Christina Lubinski, of the German Historical Institute and Marvin Menniken, of the Free University of Berlin sum up the next chapter in his life in their biography,

“Bronner made his way to Los Angeles, a city to which he had no obvious prior connections. He continued his political activism, giving speeches at least once a week on Friday nights. World peace and interreligious tolerance were only two of many topics Bronner addressed on a regular basis. In the late 1940s two new topics began to play a dominant role in his speeches: anti-communism and anti-water fluoridation. In a time of emerging Cold War rhetoric, Bronner identified communism as a political threat to the American state and democracy. He wanted to have his speeches understood as a “mental attack on communism, an army of American principles spread over this earth.” The fear of a communist infiltration of American society shaped his speeches as well as his letters and telegrams, which he sent out to political leaders and the FBI. As Bronner wrote to Vice President Richard Nixon in 1957: “Beginning 1929 over 6100 such telegrams were sent to Washington by our builder of three American soap plants, inventory of 53 chemical processes, […] your loyal chemist Better Health Foundation Dr. Bronner and Associates, Escondido, Calif[ornia].”

Less concerned with selling soap than spreading his “All-One-God-Faith” philosophy and what he called the Moral ABC, Bronner plastered his soap bottles with his very unique writing. One of the many odd statements from his unforgettable, densely worded packaging proclaims,

“Replace half-true Socialist-fluoride poison & tax-slavery with full-truth, work-speech-press & profitsharing Socialaction! All-One! So, help build 4 billion Hannibal wind-power plants, charging 96 billion battery-banks, powering every car-factory-farm-home-monorail & pump, watering Babylon-roof-gardens & 800 billion Israel-Milorganite fruit trees, guarded by Swiss 6000 year Universal Military Training!”


In the end we have very little evidence to support the idea that water fluoridation was ever a communist plot. It certainly makes for a good story, but that’s all it is, a story. This myth, entirely absent from the works of any holocaust historian, appears to be little more than the product of a small number of individuals with highly questionably credibility. Unless proponents of this conspiracy theory can offer up any actual evidence I see no reason why the idea should be taken seriously.


1IG Farben was a major chemical conglomerate involved in war crime during WWII

2 In his 1959 book, Red Shadows, Goff ties Orson Welles and his infamous War of the World radio broadcast to a Communist conspiracy,

“During the past few years, the flying saucer scare has rapidly become one of the main issues, used by organizations working for a one-world government, to frighten people into the belief that we will need a super world government to cope with an invasion from another planet. Many means are being used to create a vast amount of imagination in the minds of the general public, concerning the possibilities of an invasion by strange creatures from Mars or Venus.

“This drive began early in the 40’s, with a radio drama, put on my Orson Welles, which caused panic in many of the larger cities of the East, and resulted in the death of several people. The Orson Wells (sic) program of invasion from Mars was used by the Communist Party as a test to find out how the people would react on instructions given out over the radio. It was an important part of the Communist rehearsal for the Revolution.”

Dental Fluorosis

September 14, 2012

Fluoridation opponents have pointed to the rising prevalence of dental fluorosis as a reason to rethink fluoridation, they often present the public with images of brown, pitted teeth as if to say “This is what could happen if your city fluoridates.” Yet, like many tactics used by the anti-fluoridation movement, this is fundamentally misleading.

Dental fluorosis is described by the CDC as,

…a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. These changes can vary from barely noticeable white spots in mild forms to staining and pitting in the more severe forms. Dental fluorosis only occurs when younger children consume too much fluoride, from any source, over long periods when teeth are developing under the gums.

Unlike the pictures of brown and pitted teeth presented by anti-fluoridationists, the vast majority of dental fluorosis in the US is of the mild variety, resulting in little more than slight white streaking on the tooth enamel that is often barley noticeable¹. This form of dental fluorosis is considered a cosmetic condition only, does not negatively affect the health of the teeth, and requires no treatment. In fact, research indicates that people with mild fluorosis get less cavities and are more satisfied with their oral health, in one such study the authors wrote, “mild fluorosis was associated with a lower risk of dental caries and a more acceptable appearance. It is essential that a balanced view of the relative benefits and risks of the use of fluorides is maintained and proven benefits are not overwhelmed by largely unfounded aesthetic concerns.

The fearmongering of anti-fluoridationists over community water fluoridation and severe fluorosis is largely unfounded. Cases of the more severe form of fluorosis are not very common in most developed nations such as the US and can often be linked to known risk factors such as improper supplement usage or drinking water with fluoride levels above the recommended concentration. The Nation Research Council found that, “the prevalence of severe enamel fluorosis is close to zero in communities at all water fluoride concentrations below 2 mg/L.

Prevalence of severe enamel fluorosis at the person level by water fluoride concentration, permanent teeth, age < 20 years, U.S. communities.

While the incidence of dental fluorosis² has risen in the past several decades, it has increased in both fluoridated and unfluoridated communities. In fact, the increase in prevalence is “proportionally greater in non-fluoridated areas than in fluoridated areas.” This fact, along with other research suggests that increased prevalence of sources of fluoride other than municipal water have been central to this increase. Canadian researchers summarized the situation nicely, “water fluoridation has unique advantages from the perspectives of distribution, equity, compliance and cost-effectiveness over other fluoride technologies, it remains as the fundamental base for caries prevention. The increasingly greater contribution that other sources of fluoride make to dental fluorosis suggests that these sources of fluoride, many of which are used on an elective basis, should be more closely examined for needed changes.

1. For examples of what fluorosis looks like see, What does dental fluorosis look like?

2. The prevalence of mild fluorosis may be somewhat overestimated as researchers have noted that there are other causes of mild streaking and discoloration.

Further Reading:
The CDC on Dental Fluorosis
Prevalence and Severity of Dental Fluorosis in the United States, 1999–2004
Fluoride & Heart Disease?
Fluoride & Brain Damage
Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu
Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!
Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies
Fluoride & Cancer Quackery
Science by Press Release: Fluoride & IQ

Science by Press Release: Fluoride & IQ

July 27, 2012

A press release has been making the rounds online and is even being picked up in print raising false fears about water fluoridation and brain development. The press release from NYS Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation (NYSCOF), a misinformation laden anti-fluoridation organization, cites not a study about water fluoridation relevant to their western audience but rather a systematic review of 27 epidemiological studies relating to endemic fluoride exposure, in China and Iran, and cognitive function. I’ve written about this dishonest propaganda tactic by anti-fluoridation activists before, but activists know that the public has a short memory and the issue continues to periodically be brought up to whip up more fear and more donations for anti-fluoridation organizations. As I thoroughly demonstrated in a previous post, Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies, levels of fluoride to which people are exposed in places such as China and India are much higher than approved fluoride levels used in community fluoridation programs in places such as the US. Injecting such studies on endemic fluoride into the public discussion on water fluoridation without proper context is simply irresponsible and misleading.

In an attempt to rescue their conclusion from anyone noticing this obvious deception, the authors cite a study, Ding 2011, in which it appears that a dose response between relatively low fluoride levels in the urine and low IQ is established. The dose response in this one study however is contradicted by other research that found that children with the lowest fluoride intake in the study had lower IQs than children who lived in areas with fluoride levels closer to our national standard in the US. It also should be noted that in the Ding 2011 study other water contaminates and iodine intake do not appear to be taken into account, these important variables have been show to have an large impact in other studies and could easily account for inaccuracy in this study. With water fluoridation programs in the US averaging around 1 mg/L fluoride (or less), the claim in the study that an “increase in 1 mg/L of urine fluoride [was] associated with [a] 0.59-point decrease in IQ” is just not significant. Perhaps most important, the claim that fluoride negativity impacts cognitive function is simply not supported by any studies on water fluoridation programs in developed nations.

So once again, while the focus of anti-fluoridation activists is on stopping community fluoridation programs in places such as the US, not a single study presented was actually about community fluoridation in developed nations. Rather, the studies presented in the press release are about the threat of endemic fluorosis among those exposed to high levels naturally occurring in the groundwater in developing nations, an issue on which they are not active. This is a disingenuous use of scientific research to advance a fear-based agenda. I urge my readers to join me in supporting real, meaningful efforts to protect communities from the harms of endemic fluorosis. If you enjoyed this post please donate what you can to Frank Water and their efforts to provide sustainable water filtration to some of the worlds poorest communities, including those hit hardest by endemic fluoride.

Further Reading:
Fluoride & Heart Disease?
Fluoride & Brain Damage
Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu
Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!
Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies
Fluoride & Cancer Quackery
Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (Full Text & Supplemental Material)
Anatomy of a propaganda press release: Fluoride and IQ by idoubtit
Fluoride Lowers Your IQ: B.S. Headline of the Week by David Wong
Anti-Fluoride Propaganda as News by Steven Novella

Fluoride & Cancer Quackery

July 11, 2012

One of the many arguments offered in the never-ending manufactroversy surrounding water fluoridation is that it causes cancer. This unsupported claim is nothing new and while it has been addressed many times it continues to periodically pop up and make the rounds again and again. In the age of the internet misinformation spreads quickly and myths die hard. The “natural health” blogosphere often capitalizes on this cycle of misinformation, dredging up outdated scare stories and spinning them as accepted fact. One such article from Natural Society reads,

In 1977, it was shown that fluoridation caused about 10,000 cancer deaths in epidemiological studies by Dr. Dean Burk, former head of the Cytochemistry Section at the National Cancer Institute and Yiamouyiannis.

This extraordinary claim originated with a paper on the subject of fluoride and cancer, titled “Fluoridation and cancer, age-dependence of cancer mortality related to artificial fluoridation”, which was originally put forward in 1975 and then again in 1977 by Dr. Dean Burk and fellow fluoridation opponent John Yiamouyiannis¹. However, the paper was not well received by the majority of scientists at the time and the paper’s methodology was criticized, such as for failure to adjust for important variables. Numerous subsequent scientific studies from the US, Ireland, Taiwan, Wales, Australia,  and New Zealand, including a  review of over 50 published studies contradicted Burk’s conclusion and found no evidence to support such an outrageous claim. The CDC has since been quoted saying,

at this time, the weight of the scientific evidence, as assessed by independent committees of experts, comprehensive systematic reviews, and review of the findings of individual studies does not support an association between water fluoridated at levels optimal for oral health and the risk for cancer, including osteosarcoma.

The American Cancer Society has also gone on record stating, “Scientific studies show no connection between cancer rates in humans and adding fluoride to drinking water.”  But rather than listen to the scientific community, fluoridation opponents prefer to stay in their echo-chamber with select fringe “experts” where they can build their conspiratorial narratives.

Anti-fluoridation activists love to cite Dr. Burk, who has gone so far as to say that “fluoridation is a form of public mass murder.” As the past head of the National Cancer Institute’s Cytochemistry Sector² from 1938 to 1974, Burk is often cited as an unquestionable expert. However, Dr. Burk is an outlier on this issue in the scientific community. While Dr. Burk had a long scientific career and was notable as a co-discoverer of both biotin and a MRI prototype, a closer look at his career raises serious questions about his credibility. Burk’s approach to fluoridation was one of an activist more than a scientist. The self-correcting model of science advances on the basis of new evidence, yet Burk was never able to accept the mounting evidence against his favored hypothesis.

Burk’s quackery did not end at his anti-fluoridation activities however, he was also known for his support of the now disproven and potentially dangerous cancer “cure” laetrile. While in initial in vitro experiments Burk claimed to see “cancer cells dying off like flies“, these results are now understood to be very misleading and subsequent in vivo experimentation did not support the claims made for laetrile. A 2011 Cochrane Review of over 63 papers found “no reliable evidence for the alleged effects of laetrile or amygdalin for curative effects in cancer patients.” A common theme of Burk’s career was an over-confidence in preliminary data, while having a lack of respect for peer review and scientific criticism³.

Unfortunately even distinguished scientists are not above quackery. This can happen when a researcher strays outside their field of expertise, as is common among those cited by promoters of pseudoscience, though it can even occur with respected researchers within fields related to their expertise. Linus Pauling was a Nobel Laureate and admired chemist, yet in his later life he became a major proponent of high-dose vitamin C as a cancer cure, a worthless “treatment”. Peter Duesberg, a professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, may be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths for his promotion of HIV/AIDs denial. Luc Montagnier, who was awarded the Nobel prize for co-discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has gone down the rabbit hole with his own crank theory of the true cause of autism. Unfortunately there is no shortage of once respectable-researchers-turned-cranks. This is why it is important to consider the scientific consensus formed by relevant experts, rather than the statements of outspoken advocates on the fringe, even though they may have a degree and the air of authority.

1. Yiamouyiannis was a dedicated anti-fluoridation advocate and author and his work is held in high regard among fluoridation opponents. Like Burk, Yiamouyiannis was not content to be a single issue crank, he also denied a link between HIV and AIDs as well as opposing vaccination. In 2000 he died of colorectal cancer, he had chosen to forgo science-based medicine and instead sought “treatment” in Mexico in the form of vitamins and laetrile.

2. NOT head of all NCI research as is sometimes touted.

3. Burk also developed of what he considered a “safer” cigarette filter that incorporated charcoal. Evidence of its effectiveness was lacking however.

Further Reading:
Fluoride & Heart Disease?
Fluoride & Brain Damage
Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu
Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!
Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies
Science by Press Release: Fluoride & IQ
How do scientists become cranks and doctors quacks? by David Gorski

Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies

June 5, 2012

Since my latest blog posts have met with objections that I might be cherry-picking poor examples of evidence, I have decided to be a little more thorough and go right to the source. While browsing the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) website I found their page on fluoride and IQ containing the claim that there were “24 published studies” associating high fluoride exposure and low IQ. The link to the list of studies was broken but with the help of the Wayback Machine I found the list. Out of the 25 studies and one letter to the editor listed, I have included 17 here, all from China. Five studies had to be excluded because they did not have an English translation available (though they were part of the meta-analysis written about in my last post), also one study from Iran, one study from Mexico, and one study from India were each excluded for being outside the geographical scoop of this review (though they will be included in a future post).

China does indeed have a fluoride problem, high levels in the groundwater and contamination from the use of coal for cooking and heating both contribute to exceedingly high dosages for the populations in various provinces and villages.

But as you can see here, while the Fluoride Action Network’s focus is on stopping community fluoridation programs in places such as the US, not a single study presented was actually about community fluoridation in developed nations. Rather, the studies presented by FAN are about the threat of endemic fluorosis among those exposed to high levels naturally occurring in the groundwater and from coal pollution in developing nations, issues on which they are not active. This is a disingenuous use of scientific research to advance a fear-based agenda. To demonstrate I’m going to take a look at the cited studies one by one.

#1. Research on the intellectual development of children in high fluoride areas.
Chen Y, Han F, Zhou Z, Zhang H, Jiao X, Zhang S, Huang M, Chang T, Dong Y.

This study compared two villages, one an endemic fluorosis area, Biji, and the other a control area, Jiaobei. Biji had fluoride levels in the water of 4.55 mg/L and IQ scores of 100.24±14.52 while Jiaobei had fluoride levels of 0.89 mg/L.

This is one of many examples of misusing studies done on the health dangers of high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in groundwater, exposure to industrial pollution, and occupational fluoride exposure as “evidence” against the controlled use of dental fluoride and water fluoridation programs.

#2. A preliminary investigation of the IQs of 7-13 year old children from an area with coal burning-related fluoride poisoning.
Guo X, Wang R, Cheng C, Wei W, Tang L, Wang Q, Tang D, Liu G, He G, Li S.

The title of this one says enough, the study concerned children from an area with coal burning-related fluoride poisoning.  Coal related fluorosis is a real problem, but it is not related to community water fluoridation programs.

#3. Research on the effects of fluoride on child intellectual development under different environments.
Hong F, Cao Y, Yang D, Wang H.

A quote from the study explains this study,

The region of China selected for this study is a high fluoride, high iodine area in the lower reaches of the Yellow River on the flood plain near the Bohai Sea. Because the residents of the region consume drinking water that has a higher content of fluoride and iodine than the national standard, the prevalence of dental fluorosis and goiter is high.

This is explicitly not evidence of harm from community water fluoridation programs.

#4. Effects of high fluoride intake on child mental work capacity: and preliminary investigation into mechanisms involved.
Li Y, Li X, Wei S.

Once again this study was carried out on children “from a coal-burning fluorosis endemic area“. Coal burning creates airborne fluoride which can be either directly inhaled and be absorbed into foods. In most studies done on fluoride pollution from coal the levels of fluoride seen in the indoor air were fairly high. Such a study is not really relevant to regulated community water fluoridation programs.

#5. The effects of endemic fluoride poisoning on the intellectual development of children in Baotou.
Li Y, Jing X, Chen D, Lin L, Wang Z.

The title of this study is self explanatory but I’ll give a quote from the study,

The endemic fluoride poisoning in the Baotou region of Inner Mongolia is mostly concentrated on the high plateau north of the Ying Mountain Range, and the alluvial plain of the Yellow River south of Ying Mountain. As part of our endemic disease prevention work, we conducted a study of the effects of fluoride poisoning on intellectual development with the children of this region as our subjects.

This study is also on endemic fluorosis and is not relevant to the issue of community water fluoridation as stated above.

#6. Using the Raven’s standard progressive matrices to determine the effects of the level of fluoride in drinking water on the intellectual ability of school-age children.
Qin L, Huo S, Chen R, Chang Y, Zhao M.

This is another study on endemic fluoride. This study involved children from 22 villages with varying fluoride levels. An interesting finding of this study was that children with the lowest fluoride intake in the study had lower IQs than children who lived in areas with fluoride levels closer to our national standard in the US. The authors even stated, “it was discovered that both high and low fluoride had an effect on child intelligence. Fluoride levels greater than 2.0 mg/L or less than 0.2 mg/L can disrupt intellectual development.

Among 141 children in villages with 2.1–4.0 ppm F in the drinking water, 34 (24.11%) had IQ scores in the top three categories (1–3) of intelligence; among 147 children in the villages with 0.1–0.2 ppm F, the number was 40 (27.21%), and among 159 children in villages with a “normal” 0.5–1.0 ppm F, the number was 92 (57.86%). For the lowest two IQ categories (4 and 5), the percentages were, respectively, 75.89, 72.79, and 42.14%.

Once again, this is not good evidence against community water fluoridation in developed nations.

#7. A study of the intellectual ability of 8-14 year-old children in high fluoride, low iodine areas.
Ren D, Li K, Liu D.

This study compared IQ scores of children in an area of high fluoride and low iodine with children of the same ages from an area with low iodine only. As with previous studies the levels of fluoride in question is from endemic sources and is above the recommendations here in the US. This is not good evidence against community water fluoridation. It is also interesting to note that the authors found harmful effect from low iodine intake. This is something to keep in mind when speaking about the opposition to iodized salt for which there is some overlap in the anti-fluoridation community.

#8. A study of the IQ levels of four- to seven-year-old children in high fluoride areas.
Wang G, Yang D, Jia, Wang H.

This study compared IQ scores of children in a low fluoride area (≤ 1.0 mg/L) to children in a high endemic fluoride area with fluoride levels in the water reaching as high as 8.60 mg/L (not accounting for coal contaminated air or food). IQ scores were higher among the former group and lower among the latter. This study simply does not support the hypothesis that community water fluoridation at 0.70 mg/L is harmful.

#9. The effects of endemic fluoride poisoning caused by coal burning on the physical development and intelligence of children.
Wang S, Zhang H, Fan W, Fang S, Kang P, Chen X, Yu M.

One again we have a study with a self explanatory title, the authors we investigating the effects of endemic fluoride poisoning caused by coal burning. The area studied was even described as a “heavily fluoride poisoned area”. This is not good evidence against community water fluoridation.

#10. Effect of fluoride exposure on intelligence in children.
Li XS, Zhi JL, Gao RO.

The authors of this study on endemic fluorosis state,

In the medium and severe fluorosis areas, it was customary for coal to be used as a domestic fuel for cooking, heating and drying grain whereas in the areas without or only slight fluorosis there was no custom of drying grain by the use of coal.

This is not good evidence against community water fluoridation.

#11. The relationship of a low-iodine and high-fluoride environment to subclinical cretinism in Xinjiang.
Lin FF, Aihaiti, Zhao HX, Lin J, Jiang JY, Maimaiti, and Aiken

The authors of this study state,

We studied a total of 769 schoolchildren of 7-14 years in three areas, characterized by intakes of (A) low iodine, high fluoride; (B) low iodine, normal fluoride; and (C) iodine supplemented, normal fluoride. Results for the following parameters for areas A, B, and C, respectively were: (a) average IQ: 71,77,96

Once more we are presented with a study on high levels of endemic fluoride. As with study #7, this study does not provide evidence against community fluoridation programs, but its does highlight the importance of getting enough iodine.

#12. Effect of high-fluoride water on intelligence in children.
Lu Y, Sun ZR, Wu LN, Wang X, Lu W, Liu SS.

The authors of this study on endemic fluorosis state,

The children in the high-fluoride area (drinking water fluoride 3.15 ± 0.61 mg/L [ppm]) (mean ± S.D.) had higher urinary fluoride levels (4.99 ± 2.57 mg/L) than the children in the low-fluoride area (drinking water fluoride 0.37 ± 0.04 mg/L) (urinary fluoride 1.43 ± 0.64 mg/L). The IQ of the 60 children in the high-fluoride area was significantly lower, mean 92.27 ± 20.45, than that of the 58 children in the low-fluoride area, mean 103.05 ± 13.86. More children in the high-fluoride area, 21.6%, were in the retardation (<70) or borderline (70-79) categories of IQ than children in the low fluoride area, 3.4%. An inverse relationship was also present between IQ and the urinary fluoride level.

While these results have meaning to endemic fluoride control, they are not meaningful evidence against community water fluoridation.

#13. Arsenic and fluoride exposure in drinking water: children’s IQ and growth in Shanyin County, Shanxi Province, China.
Wang SX, Wang ZH, Cheng XT, Li J, Sang Z-P, Zhang X-D, Han L-L, Qiao X-Y, Wu Z-M, Wang Z-Q.

This study is looking at the effects of high levels of arsenic (up to 190 ± 183 μg/L ) and high levels of fluoride (up to 8.3 ± 1.9 mg/L) from endemic sources. These levels are extremely high and the presence of so much arsenic is worrying. But once more, this does not support the hypothesis that community water fluoridation at 0.70 mg/L is harmful.

#14. Effect of fluoride in  drinking water on children’s intelligence. (& follow up letter to the editor)
Xiang Q, Liang Y, Chen L, Wang C, Chen B, Chen X, Zhou M.

The authors of this study on endemic fluorosis state,

In the high fluoride village of Wamiao (water fluoride: 2.47±0.79 mg/L; range: 0.57–4.50 mg/L), the mean IQ of 222 children was significantly lower (92.02±13.00; range: 54–126) than in the low-fluoride village of Xinhuai (water fluoride: 0.36±0.15 mg/L; range: 0.18–0.76 mg/L), where the mean IQ of 290 children was higher (100.41±13.21; range: 60–128)…The Benchmark Concentration (BMC) for the concentration-response relationship between IQ <80 and the drinking water fluoride level was 2.32 mg/L, and the lower-bound confidence limit (BMCL) of the BMC was 1.85 mg/L. Taking dental fluorosis and other sources of dietary fluoride into account, the reference value concentration (RfC) for fluoride was calculated to be 0.925 mg/L, which is very close to the current national Chinese standard of <1.0 mg/L.

The author are stating that the Chinese fluoride standard of <1.0 mg/L is safe and this study does not provide meaningful evidence against community water fluoridation.

#15.Effect of high-fluoride water supply on children’s intelligence.
Zhao LB, Liang GH, Zhang DN, Wu XR.

The authors of this study on endemic fluorosis state,

children living in the endemic fluoride village of Sima (water supply F = 4.12 mg/L) located near Xiaoyi City had average IQ (97.69) significantly lower (p < 0.02) than children living to the north in the nonendemic village of Xinghua (F = 0.91 mg/L; average IQ = 105.21).

This study is consistent with the rest that excessively high levels of fluoride are a problem but that levels similar to those used in community fluoridation programs are safe.

#16. Research on the intellectual ability of 6-14 year old students in an area with endemic fluoride poisoning.
Hu Y, Yu Z , Ding R.

Once more we have a self explanatory title. In this study researchers look at two groups of children, one with high fluoride exposure from endemic sources (7.00 ppm) and a low fluoride area (0.8ppm or less). The authors of this study describe the impact of fluoride in this study as “negligible” however.

#17. The effects of high levels of fluoride and iodine on child intellectual ability and the metabolism of fluoride and iodine.
Yang Y, Wang X, Guo X, Hu P.

This study examined the “twin contamination zone” of Lidian Village, where the well water had an “iodine content of 1,100 μg/L and a fluoride content of 2.97 mg/L”. The control area for the study, Dading village, had drinking water with an “iodine content of 128.6 μg/L, and a fluoride content of 0.5 mg/L”. Children in Dading were found to outperform children from Lidian on the Chinese Comparative Scale of Intelligence Test (though the difference was not deemed “significant”). While relevant to the situation in some locations in China, this is not meaningful as evidence against community water fluoridation.

Once again, while the FAN’s focus is on stopping community fluoridation programs in places such as the US, not a single study presented was actually about community fluoridation in developed nations. Rather, the studies presented by FAN are about the threat of endemic fluorosis among those exposed to high levels naturally occurring in the groundwater and from coal pollution in developing nations, issues on which they are not active. This is a disingenuous use of scientific research to advance a fear-based agenda. I urge my readers to join me in supporting real, meaningful efforts to protect communities from the harms of endemic fluorosis. If you enjoyed this post please donate what you can to Frank Water and their efforts to provide sustainable water filtration to some of the worlds poorest communities.

Further Reading:
Fluoride & Heart Disease?
Fluoride & Brain Damage
Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu
Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!
Science by Press Release: Fluoride & IQ

Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!

June 2, 2012

I know it’s often said the “third time’s the charm”, but really it’s just getting old at this point.  Fluoridation opponents are once again trotting out the tired canard of community water fluoridation negatively impacting brain function and intelligence. In a post titled Can Fluoride Lower Human Intelligence?, Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo, writes,

Is fluoride a potential cause of lowering of IQ in our children? Certainly those who advocate for consuming it therapeutically, without acknowledging its well-known adverse health effects, may themselves be suffering from a fluoride-induced deficiency of intelligence.
After all, is it intelligent to ignore the evidence supporting a hard and fast connection between increased fluoride exposure and lower IQ?

Accusations of low intelligence of fluoridation proponents are nothing new, but I have not seen actual evidence of this childish claim. I have, however, noted an alarming lack of reading comprehension among a number of vocal fluoridation opponents. As evidence of this “hard and fast connection” between fluoride and intelligence Ji cites a 2008 paper titled Fluoride and children’s intelligence: a meta-analysis. This paper was a meta-analysis of 16 papers published over the last 20 years in regards to fluoride exposure in China and impacts on brain development and intelligence. The paper reports,

Sixteen case-control studies that assessed the development of low IQ in children who had been exposed to fluoride earlier in their life were included in this review. A qualitative review of the studies found a consistent and strong association between the exposure to fluoride and low IQ. The meta-analyses of the case-control studies estimated that the odds ratio of IQ in endemic fluoride areas compared with nonfluoride areas or slight fluoride areas. The summarized weighted mean difference is -4.97 (95%confidence interval [CI] = -5.58 to -4.36; p<0.01) using a fixed-effect model and -5.03 (95%CI = -6.51 to 3.55; p<0.01) using a random-effect model, which means that children who live in a fluorosis area have five times higher odds of developing low IQ than those who live in a nonfluorosis area or a slight fluorosis area.

The key point Ji is ignoring here is that the authors of the study were investigating the effects of living in high endemic fluoride areas with typical fluoride levels occurring at many times the approved amounts used in community fluoridation programs. The issue of endemic fluorosis is a problem in a number of nations, especially in China, where naturally occurring fluoride in the groundwater and pollution from coal create a dangerous situation.
Fluorosis-affected provinces
As said before, the use of studies done on the health dangers of high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in groundwater, exposure to industrial pollution, and occupational fluoride exposure as “evidence” against the controlled use of dental fluoride and water fluoridation programs is a common tactic among community fluoridation opponents. I feel I must stress why this issue is so important to me. Fluoride is a social justice issue. Endemic fluorosis disproportionately affects the poor in developing nations, while fear-based efforts to stop community fluoridation programs disproportionately affect the poor in developed nations. While anti-fluoridation activists and organizations such as the Fluoride Action Network like to position themselves as “safe-water” advocates, their focus is entirely on stopping community water fluoridation in developed nations. It is nothing short of hypocritical and irresponsible when organizations such as this hold out study after study on the harms of endemic fluorosis in developing nations while doing  nothing to help the people in such situations but instead misdirect the concern to safe community water fluoridation programs in developed nations. Fluorosis is a real problem that affects real people, but these people are not the focus of the fluoride fearmongers. If fluoridation opponents really want to do some good they can support organizations such as Frank Water which help to provide “safe drinking water for the world’s poorest communities” by setting up sustainable filtration programs in areas with bacteriological and fluoride contamination. Their work in India, a fluorosis hotspot, has resulted in safe drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people who now have a brighter future. It is projects like this that are doing the real good, spreading fear and misinformation, however, helps no one. If you enjoyed this post please consider donating what you can to Frank Water or a similar charity of your choice, let’s put the focus where it really matters.

Further Reading:
Fluoride & Heart Disease?
Fluoride & Brain Damage
Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu

Fluoride & the Brain: Déjà Vu

May 30, 2012

The alternative health community is at it again, once more spreading fear and misinformation regarding the effects of water fluoridation and the use of dental fluoride. In a post title “Fluoride Lowers Your IQ | A Debated Truth?“, Mike Barret of Natural Society cites a 2010 study titled “Serum Fluoride Level and Children’s Intelligence Quotient in Two Villages in China” to argue that the “great deal of controversy revolving around the addition of fluoride in many communities’ drinking water” is based on demonstrable health concerns. I’ve dealt with Natural Society before and once again the current study being cited does not actually support the claim being made. Citing studies done on the health dangers of high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in groundwater, exposure to industrial pollution, and occupational fluoride exposure as evidence against the controlled use of dental fluoride and water fluoridation programs is a common tactic among anti-fluoridationists. I have long maintained that whenever possible, one should read the original study. The study cited by Barret involved 512 children from two villages, Wamiao and Xinhuai, in China. The authors of the study describe the villages,

Wamiao and Xinhuai are located 64 km apart in Sihong County. Wamiao village, in northeast Sihong County, about 32 km northeast of Sihong, is a severe endemic fluorosis area. The mean fluoride level in Wamaio drinking water was 2.47 ± 0.79 mg/L (range 0.57–4.50 mg/L), and the prevalence of dental fluorosis and defected dental fluorosis was 88.56% and 38.98%, respectively. Xinhuai village, in the southwest part of Sihong county, about 32 km southwest of Sihong, is a non endemic fluorosis area. The mean level of fluoride in Xinhuai drinking water was 0.36±0.15 mg/L (range 0.18-0.76 mg/L), and the prevalence of dental fluorosis was 4.48%, with no cases of defected dental fluorosis identified (Xiang et al. 2004, National Standard of P.R. China 1997).

In the study children in Wamiao were found to have lower IQ scores[1] and higher serum fluoride levels than children in Xinhuai. In Xinhua 27.59% scored in the >110 range indicating “high intelligence”, 51.72% of children scored in the 90-109 or “normal range”, and another 6.2% in the <79 range, this is compared to only 8.11% of children from Wamiao scoring in the >110 range, 47.30% in the 90-109 range, and 15.31% in the <79 range. The authors came to the conclusion that the difference in fluoride exposure is responsible for the differing IQ scores after accounting for various factors. Take notice of the levels of fluoride reported for each village. Wamiao, where lower IQ scores were reported, had levels that ranged from 0.57–4.50 mg/L which on the high end exceeds the current Environmental Protection Agency’s enforceable guideline (4.0 mg/L) for fluoride in groundwater and is double the secondary guideline (2.0 mg/L) meant to protect children. However the village of Xinhuai, where IQ scores were higher, had levels of 0.18-0.76 mg/L which is actually quite close to the Department of Health and Human Service’s current standard (0.7 mg/L) for community water fluoridation and is below both the EPA’s enforceable and secondary guidelines. Both the DHHS and EPA’s guidelines are evidence-based, in general reflecting the current scientific literature and consensus, and they are amicable to review and revision. This is a great example of science in action. Rather than providing evidence that community water fluoridation is dangerous, this study actually is in line with the current guidelines and regulations. There is always room for more science, but continuing to the repeat the same canards over and over while crying “SHILL” & “CONSPIRACY!” at any dissent is not advancing science.

Further Reading:
Fluoride & Brain Damage

Fluoride & Heart Disease?

Fluoride & the Brain: Strike 3, You’re Out!
Fluoride & the Brain: The China Studies
Community Water Fluoridation: Guidelines and Recommendations
Your community’s fluoridation level can be seen at My Water’s Fluoride

[1] I will not delve into the issues surrounding IQ testing at this moment but I will direct my readers here for a introduction to the controversy