Fluoridation on the Ropes

Have you heard the latest news?

U.S. Government Walks Back Fluoride Recommendation

For the first time in more than 50 years, the federal government has recommended lowering the level of fluoride in drinking water. In April of this year, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) admitted that current fluoride levels (which they have long promoted as safe) have damaged children’s teeth. Because of the large increase in dental fluorosis (41% of teenagers), HHS says that water fluoride levels should be lowered to not exceed 0.7 mg/L (most California communities use a range between 0.7 – 1.5 mg/L).

The American Dental Association (ADA) and public health departments lauded the announcement. But other public health experts don’t think it goes far enough, including Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a highly regarded public health researcher and physician at Harvard University.

“I’d say it’s a reasonable concern that fluoride can affect brain development," Grandjean says. “Lowering the recommended fluoridation level to 0.7 mg per liter is very well-justified. I would in fact recommend that the level be reduced even further.”

US Government lowers fluorde level

FDA Issues Directive For Fluoride In Bottled Water

In concurrence with the HHS final fluoridation recommendation of 0.7 mg/L, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made the recommendation that the same standard shall apply to bottled water. The directive is specific to fluoride that is added to bottled water and does not affect the levels of fluoride permitted under FDA bottled water regulations.

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has [written a] letter to industry recommending that bottled water manufacturers, distributors and importers limit the amount of fluoride they add to bottled water so that it contains no more than 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L)."

Cochrane Review Says Evidence Is Flimsy On Water Fluoridation Effectiveness

The reputation of water fluoridation took another big blow this summer when the Cochrane Collaboration, considered to be the gold standard in evidence-based reviews of health science, found very little evidence that water fluoridation is effective in reducing dental decay, and instead confirmed that fluoridation increases fluorosis rates. The review received widespread attention in the U.S. due to Newsweek’s coverage of the study in their article “Fluoridation May Not Prevent Cavities, Scientific Review Shows”. This coverage comes after two major articles critical of fluoridation have been published in Newsweek in the last year.

It’s important to note that the Cochrane Collaboration can hardly be considered biased against fluoride, as they published an earlier positive review on the effectiveness of topical fluoride. This new review shows clearly that, contrary to conventional wisdom, systemic (ingested) fluoride is NOT effective in preventing tooth decay.  

“Frankly, this is pretty shocking,” says Thomas Zoeller, a scientist at UMass-Amherst uninvolved in the work. “This study does not support the use of fluoride in drinking water.”

“I had assumed because of everything I’d heard that water fluoridation reduces cavities but I was completely amazed by the lack of evidence. My prior view was completely reversed. There’s really hardly any evidence” - Trevor Sheldon, dean of the Hull York Medical School

Water utilities and public health departments continue to insist that water fluoridation is safe and effective in spite of the fact that the total body of evidence now shows that fluoride in water is neither. We understand that public policy often lags behind science. But city agencies are becoming increasingly dogmatic in their support for fluoridation, often dismissing concerns about fluoride out of hand. Let’s see how they react to the Cochrane review, which removes the cornerstone that holds up the fortress of fluoridation. 

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The crumbling fortress of fluoridation

British Medical Journal Publishes Article On CDC Corruption

One would expect that the governmental agencies tasked with safeguarding our health would be insulated from the corrupting influence of money. One would be wrong. Conflicts of interest have become more the rule than the occasional exception. As the British Medical Journal (BMJ) points out, even the trusted US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives heavy funding from industry. BMJ associate editor Jeanne Lenzer wonders how conflicts of interest may have affected the organization’s decisions, and notes:

“The CDC’s image as an independent watchdog over the public health has given it enormous prestige, and its recommendations are occasionally enforced by law. Despite the agency’s disclaimer, the CDC does receive millions of dollars in industry gifts and funding, both directly and indirectly, and several recent CDC actions and recommendations have raised questions about the science it cites, the clinical guidelines it promotes, and the money it is taking.”

We are often asked to take the health recommendations of the CDC as gospel. After all, the CDC has hailed water fluoridation as "one of the ten great health achievements of the 20th century". But there is cause for healthy skepticism of CDC recommendations on water fluoridation in light of these inconvenient truths.

CDC corruption conflicts of interest
Arsenic Levels In Bay Area Water Go Unreported

Ever since we convinced Bay Area water municipalities to include a fluoride/fluorosis/infant formula warning in their water quality statements, we've been keeping a close eye on their annual water quality reports. And we've noticed something very curious. SFPUC (San Francisco) and EBMUD (Alameda County) are neglecting to include water quality data on arsenic, a highly toxic and carcinogenic heavy metal.


Arsenic in drinking water can occur naturally from erosion from rock deposits. But, as this recent study by toxicologist Phyllis Mullenix warns, arsenic is also present (as a contaminant) in every batch of fluoride sold to our water utilities. The study clearly states that "results show that metal content varies with batch, and all HFS samples contained arsenic (4.9–56.0 ppm) or arsenic in addition to lead (10.3 ppm)".

The MCLG (the maximum level of a contaminant in drinking water at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons would occur, and which allows an adequate margin of safety) set by the EPA for arsenic is 0 ppm, which means that no amount of arsenic can be safely added to drinking water. 

A Sunshine request (local public records request) reveals that SFPUC is in possession of this study, and it stands to reason that the agency is aware  that the chemical they use to fluoridate San Francisco drinking water is tainted with arsenic. That means that SFPUC and EBMUD are knowingly adding arsenic to the water supply while at the same time neglecting to publish data on arsenic levels in the drinking water.

Arsenic fluoride poison
Sonoma County Drops Plan To Fluoridate

Good news out of northern California! After spending seven years in meetings and more than a million taxpayer dollars on studies and fluoridation promotion, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors dropped water fluoridation from their agenda. Tip your cap to Dawna Gallagher-Stroh and the rest of the team at Clean Water Sonoma-Marin for working tirelessly and tenaciously over the last few years to make sure fluoridation was stopped dead in its tracks in Sonoma Country. Clean water advocate Marlene Lily has the scoop on on this story in the Sonoma County Gazette. 

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150 Communities In The Last 5 Years Have Rejected Fluoridation

Most developed nations, including the vast majority of western Europe, do not fluoridate their drinking water. Health authorities in North America have refused to let go of the fluoridation paradigm in spite of mounting evidence that it doesn't work and may cause harm, so communities are doing the work for them by getting organized to effect change locally.

Over 150 communities have rejected fluoridation since 2010, including large communities in Canada (Calgary, Alberta, Windsor, Ontario) the U.S. (Portland, Wichita, Albuquerque) and just last year all of Israel (over 7 million). As the New York Times puts it:

“For decades, the issue of fluoridated water remained on the fringes. . . . But as more places, like Fairbanks and parts of Canada, take up the issue in a more measured way, it is shifting away from conspiracy and toward the mainstream. The conclusion among these communities is that with fluoride now so widely available in toothpaste and mouthwash, there is less need to add it to water, which already has naturally occurring fluoride. Putting it in tap water, they say, is an imprecise way of distributing fluoride; how much fluoride a person gets depends on body weight and water consumed.”

communities rejecting fluoridation
Fluoridation And The Precautionary Principle

Does your city operate under the precautionary principle? The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.

By any reasonable measure, water fluoridation is in direct violation of the precautionary principle due to the existence of an extensive amount of scientific evidence that shows ingested fluoride can be harmful to tissues and bones. For cities with precautionary principle ordinances, like San Francisco and Berkeley, the burden of proof falls on the shoulders of city agencies to prove that there is an adequate margin of safety that protects all of its residents from the potential harm of water fluoridation.

When questioned about the applicability of the precautionary principle to fluoridation chemicals in drinking water, California cities will often claim that their hands are tied by the state "mandate" to fluoridate. Such a response was given by the SFPUC last year:

"the Precautionary Principle is not a decision making algorithm, but a guide for how best to proceed through a decision making process. In the case of drinking water fluoridation, the precautionary principle can not apply because the SFPUC has no decision-making power--they are required to fluoridate the drinking water by state and federal law."

This statement is not consistent with statements made by other California cities that have declined opportunities to fluoridate. The county of Santa Cruz, CA has enacted the precautionary principle and has rejected fluoridation outright. See what Council Members had to say about adding fluoride to their water.

"Santa Cruz is a charter city formed pursuant to Article IX, section 7 of the California Constitution and, as such, has the constitutional authority to enact and enforce local, police, health and safety, sanitary and other regulations not in conflict with general law. The fluoridation of local water supplies is not a matter of statewide concern and is a proper subject of local charter city regulation."

Precaution-into-Practice

Environmental Advocates Erin Brokovich & Lois Gibbs Speak Out Against Water Fluoridation

Well-known environmental activist, consumer advocate and legal consultant Erin Brockovich has harsh words for fluoride, calling for an end to fluoridation and for hearings to hold public officials accountable. Brockovich recently penned a letter to the The Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences calling on these and other organizations to rescind their endorsements of fluoridation.

"After a great deal of research and personal thought, I am opposed to the continued policy and practice of drinking water fluoridation; I believe this harmful practice must be ended immediately. Public drinking water is a basic human right; and its systematic use as a dispensary of a substance for medical purposes is deplorable."  Brockovich said.

Lois Gibbs, a community advocate who's been at forefront of the environmental movement in the United States for several decades, has also recently spoken out about water fluoridation:

"Today we’re finding out that the story we were all told about the addition of fluoride to public water systems was not the whole story. The alarming news seems to keep growing. We’ve learned that before fluoridation began, important research was not done to evaluate the possible adverse health effects on the whole body. We’ve learned that large amounts of very basic research has still not been done today" Gibbs said. 

brockovich gibbs
We are witnessing a fundamental paradigm shift in public health as we move away from the dogma of water fluoridation toward equitable, actionable and sustainable means for improving oral health in our communities. Clean Water California is leading the way. Make a tax-deductible donation today!

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