The Fluoridation Fiasco
by Gary Null, Ph.D.
There's nothing like a glass of cool, clear water to quench one's
But the next time you or your child reaches for one, you might want to
question whether that water is in fact, too toxic to drink. If your
is fluoridated, the answer may well be yes.
For decades, we have been told a lie, a lie that has led to the deaths
hundreds of thousands of Americans and the weakening of the immune
of tens of millions more. This lie is called fluoridation. A process
were led to believe was a safe and effective method of protecting
from decay is in fact a fraud. In recent years it's been shown that
fluoridation is neither essential for good health nor protective of
What it does is poison the body. We should all at this point be asking
and why public health policy and the American media continue to live
and perpetuate this scientific sham.
How to Market a Toxic Waste
"We would not purposely add arsenic to the water supply. And we would
purposely add lead. But we do add fluoride. The fact is that fluoride
more toxic than lead and just slightly less toxic than arsenic."1
These words of Dr. John Yiamouyiannis may come as a shock to you
if you're like most Americans, you have positive associations with
fluoride. You may envision tooth protection, strong bones, and a
that cares about your dental needs. What you've probably never been
that the fluoride added to drinking water and toothpaste is a crude
industrial waste product of the aluminum and fertilizer industries,
substance toxic enough to be used as rat poison. How is it that
have learned to love an environmental hazard? This phenomenon can be
attributed to a carefully planned marketing program begun even before
Rapids, Michigan, became the first community to officially fluoridate
drinking water in 1945.2 As a result of this ongoing campaign, nearly
two-thirds of the nation has enthusiastically followed Grand Rapids'
example. But this push for fluoridation has less to do with a concern
America's health than with industry's penchant to expand at the
our nation's well-being.
The first thing you have to understand about fluoride is that it's the
problem child of industry. Its toxicity was recognized at the
the Industrial Revolution, when, in the 1850s iron and copper
discharged it into the air and poisoned plants, animals, and people.3
problem was exacerbated in the 1920s when rapid industrial growth
massive pollution. Medical writer Joel Griffiths explains that "it was
abundantly clear to both industry and government that spectacular U.S.
industrial expansion - and the economic and military power and vast
it promised - would necessitate releasing millions of tons of waste
fluoride into the environment."4 Their biggest fear was that "if
injury to people were established, lawsuits alone could prove
to companies, while public outcry could force industry-wide government
regulations, billions in pollution-control costs, and even mandatory
changes in high-fluoride raw materials and profitable technologies."5
At first, industry could dispose of fluoride legally only in small
by selling it to insecticide and rat poison manufacturers.6 Then a
commercial outlet was devised in the 1930s when a connection was made
between water supplies bearing traces of fluoride and lower rates of
decay. Griffiths writes that this was not a scientific breakthrough,
rather part of a "public disinformation campaign" by the aluminum
"to convince the public that fluoride was safe and good." Industry's
prompted Alcoa-funded scientist Gerald J. Cox to announce that "The
trend toward complete removal of fluoride from water may need some
reversal."7 Griffiths writes:
"The big news in Cox's announcement was that this 'apparently
by-product' had not only been proved safe (in low doses), but actually
beneficial; it might reduce cavities in children. A proposal was in
to add fluoride to the entire nation's drinking water. While the dose
each individual would be low, 'fluoridation' on a national scale would
require the annual addition of hundreds of thousands of tons of
the country's drinking water.
"Government and industry - especially Alcoa - strongly supported
intentional water fluoridation...[it] made possible a master public
relations stroke - one that could keep scientists and the public off
fluoride's case for years to come. If the leaders of dentistry,
and public health could be persuaded to endorse fluoride in the
drinking water, proclaiming to the nation that there was a 'wide
safety,' how were they going to turn around later and say industry's
fluoride pollution was dangerous?
"As for the public, if fluoride could be introduced as a health
substance that should be added to the environment for the children's
those opposing it would look like quacks and lunatics....
"Back at the Mellon Institute, Alcoa's Pittsburgh Industrial research
this news was galvanic. Alcoa-sponsored biochemist Gerald J. Cox
immediately fluoridated some lab rats in a study and concluded that
fluoride reduced cavities and that 'The case should be regarded as
In a historic moment in 1939, the first public proposal that the U.S.
should fluoridate its water supplies was made - not by a doctor, or
dentist, but by Cox, an industry scientist working for a company
by fluoride damage claims."8
Once the plan was put into action, industry was buoyant. They had
found the channel for fluoride that they were looking for, and they
even cheered on by dentists, government agencies, and the public.
Week, a publication for the chemical industry, described the tenor of
times: "All over the country, slide rules are getting warm as
engineers figure the cost of adding fluoride to their water supplies."
are riding a trend urged upon them, by the U.S. Public Health Service,
American Dental Association, the State Dental Health Directors,
state and local health bodies, and vocal women's clubs from coast to
It adds up to a nice piece of business on all sides and many firms are
cheering the PHS and similar groups as they plump for increasing
Such overwhelming acceptance allowed government and industry to
hastily, albeit irresponsibly. The Grand Rapids experiment was
take 15 years, during which time health benefits and hazards were to
studied. In 1946, however, just one year into the experiment, six more
cities adopted the process. By 1947, 87 more communities were treated;
popular demand was the official reason for this unscientific haste.
The general public and its leaders did support the cause, but only
massive government public relations campaign spearheaded by Edward L.
Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud. Bernays, a public relations
has been called "the original spin doctor,"10 was a masterful PR
strategist. As a result of his influence, Griffiths writes, "Almost
overnight...the popular image of fluoride - which at the time was
widely sold as rat and bug poison - became that of a beneficial
gleaming smiles, absolutely safe, and good for children, bestowed by a
benevolent paternal government. Its opponents were permanently
the public mind as crackpots and right-wing loonies."11
Griffiths explains that while opposition to fluoridation is usually
associated with right-wingers, this picture is not totally accurate.
provides an interesting historical perspective on the
"Fluoridation attracted opponents from every point on the continuum of
politics and sanity. The prospect of the government mass-medicating
the water supplies with a well-known rat poison to prevent a nonlethal
disease flipped the switches of delusionals across the country - as
well as generating concern among responsible scientists, doctors, and
"Moreover, by a fortuitous twist of circumstances, fluoride's natural
opponents on the left were alienated from the rest of the opposition.
Oscar Ewing, a Federal Security Agency administrator, was a Truman
"fair dealer" who pushed many progressive programs such as
Fluoridation was lumped with his proposals. Inevitably, it was
attacked by conservatives as a manifestation of "creeping socialism,"
while the left rallied to its support. Later during the McCarthy era,
the left was further alienated from the opposition when extreme
right-wing groups, including the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux
Klan, raved that fluoridation was a plot by the Soviet Union and/or
communists in the government to poison America's brain cells.
"It was a simple task for promoters, under the guidance of the
spin doctor,' to paint all opponents as deranged - and they played
angle to the hilt....
"Actually, many of the strongest opponents originally started out as
proponents, but changed their minds after a close look at the
many opponents came to view fluoridation not as a communist plot, but
simply as a capitalist-style con job of epic proportions. Some could
termed early environmentalists, such as the physicians George L.
and Frederick B. Exner, who first documented government-industry
in hiding the hazards of fluoride pollution from the public. Waldbott
Exner risked their careers in a clash with fluoride defenders, only to
their cause buried in toothpaste ads."11
By 1950, fluoridation's image was a sterling one, and there was not
science could do at this point. The Public Health Service was
fluoridation's main source of funding as well as its promoter, and
therefore caught in a fundamental conflict of interest.12 If
were found to be unsafe and ineffective, and laws were repealed, the
organization feared a loss of face, since scientists, politicians,
groups, and physicians unanimously supported it.13 For this reason,
concerning its effects were not undertaken. The Oakland Tribune noted
when it stated that "public health officials have often suppressed
scientific doubts" about fluoridation.14 Waldbott sums up the
when he says that from the beginning, the controversy over
water supplies was "a political, not a scientific health issue."15
The marketing of fluoride continues. In a 1983 letter from the
Environmental Protection Agency, then Deputy Assistant Administrator
Water, Rebecca Hammer, writes that the EPA "regards [fluoridation] as
ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering
by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and
pollution are minimized and water utilities have a low-cost source of
fluoride available to them."16 More recently, a 1992 policy statement
the Department of Health and Human Services says, "A recent
PHS review of the benefits and potential health risks of fluoride has
concluded that the practice of fluoridating community water supplies
safe and effective."17
Today, nearly 250 million people worldwide drink fluoridated water,
including about 130 million Americans in 9600 communities. Out of the
largest cities in the US, 41 have fluoridated water.18
To help celebrate fluoride's widespread use, the media recently
the 50th anniversary of fluoridation in Grand Rapids. Newspaper
titled "Fluoridation: a shining public health success"19 and "After 50
years, fluoride still works with a smile"20 painted glowing pictures
practice. Had investigators looked more closely, though, they might
learned that children in Muskegon, Michigan, an unfluoridated
city, had equal drops in dental decay. They might also have learned of
other studies that dispute the supposed wonders of fluoride.
The Fluoride Myth
Doesn't Hold Water
The big hope for fluoride was its ability to immunize children's
teeth against cavities. Rates of dental caries were supposed to
areas where water was treated. Yet decades of experience and worldwide
research have contradicted this expectation numerous times. Here are
In British Columbia, only 11% of the population drinks fluoridated
as opposed to 40-70% in other Canadian regions. Yet British Columbia
the lowest rate of tooth decay in Canada. In addition, the lowest
dental caries within the province are found in areas that do not have
water supplies fluoridated.21
According to a Sierra Club study, people in unfluoridated developing
nations have fewer dental caries than those living in industrialized
nations. As a result, they conclude that "fluoride is not essential to
In 1986-87, the largest study on fluoridation and tooth decay ever was
performed. The subjects were 39,000 school children between 5 and 17
in 84 areas around the country. A third of the places were
third were partially fluoridated, and a third were not. Results
no statistically significant differences in dental decay between
fluoridated and unfluoridated cities.23
A World Health Organization survey reports a decline of dental decay
western Europe, which is 98% unfluoridated. They state that western
Europe's declining dental decay rates are equal to and sometimes
than those in the U.S.24
A 1992 University of Arizona study yielded surprising results when
found that "the more fluoride a child drinks, the more cavities appear
Although all Native American reservations are fluoridated, children
there have much higher incidences of dental decay and other oral
problems than do children living in other U.S. communities.26
In light of all the evidence, fluoride proponents now make more modest
claims. For example, in 1988, the ADA professed that a 40- to 60%
reduction could be achieved with the help of fluoride. Now they claim
18- to 25% reduction. Other promoters mention a 12% decline in tooth
And some former supporters are even beginning to question the need for
fluoridation altogether. In 1990, a National Institute for Dental
report stated that "it is likely that if caries in children remain at
levels or decline further, the necessity of continuing the current
and extent of fluoride-based prevention programs will be
Most government agencies, however, continue to ignore the scientific
evidence and to market fluoridation by making fictional claims about
benefits and pushing for its expansion. For instance, according to the
Department of Health and Human Services, "National surveys of oral
dating back several decades document continuing decreases in tooth
children, adults and senior citizens. Nevertheless, there are parts of
country and particular populations that remain without protection. For
these reasons, the U.S. PHS...has set a national goal for the year
that 75% of persons served by community water systems will have access
optimally fluoridated drinking water; currently this figure is just
60%. The year 2000 target goal is both desirable and yet challenging,
on past progress and continuing evidence of effectiveness and safety
this public health measure."17
This statement is flawed on several accounts. First, as we've seen,
research does not support the effectiveness of fluoridation for
tooth disease. Second, purported benefits are supposedly for children,
adults and senior citizens. At about age 13, any advantage
might offer comes to an end, and less than 1% of the fluoridated water
supply reaches this population.28 And third, fluoridation has never
proven safe. On the contrary, several studies directly link
skeletal fluorosis, dental fluorosis, and several rare forms of
This alone should frighten us away from its use.
Biological Safety Concerns
Only a small margin separates supposedly beneficial fluoride levels
amounts that are known to cause adverse effects. Dr. James Patrick, a
former antibiotics research scientist at the National Institutes of
describes the predicament:
"[There is] a very low margin of safety involved in fluoridating
concentration of about 1 ppm is recommended...in several countries,
fluorosis has been documented from water supplies containing only 2 or
ppm. In the development of drugs...we generally insist on a
index (margin of safety) of the order of 100; a therapeutic index of 2
is totally unacceptable, yet that is what has been proposed for public
Other countries argue that even 1 ppm is not a safe concentration.
studies, for example, imply that children under three should have no
fluoride whatsoever. The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association
that "Fluoride supplements should not be recommended for children less
3 years old."30 Since these supplements contain the same amount of
as water does, they are basically saying that children under the age
three shouldn't be drinking fluoridated water at all, under any
circumstances. Japan has reduced the amount of fluoride in their
water to one-eighth of what is recommended in the U.S. Instead of 1
milligram per liter, they use less than 15 hundredths of a milligram
liter as the upper limit allowed.
Even supposing that low concentrations are safe, there is no way to
how much fluoride different people consume, as some take in a lot more
others. For example, laborers, athletes, diabetics, and those living
or dry regions can all be expected to drink more water, and therefore
fluoride (in fluoridated areas) than others.32 Due to such wide
in water consumption, it is impossible to scientifically control what
dosage of fluoride a person receives via the water supply.33
Another concern is that fluoride is not found only in drinking water;
everywhere. Fluoride is found in foods that are processed with it,
in the United States, include nearly all bottled drinks and canned
Researchers writing in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry
found that fruit juices, in particular, contain significant amounts of
fluoride. In a recent study, a variety of popular juices and juice
were analyzed and it was discovered that 42% of the samples examined
more than l ppm of fluoride, with some brands of grape juice
much higher levels - up to 6.8 ppm! The authors cite the common
using fluoride-containing insecticide in growing grapes as a factor in
these high levels, and they suggest that the fluoride content of
be printed on their labels, as is other nutritional information.35
Considering how much juice some children ingest, and the fact that
youngsters often insist on particular brands that they consume day
day, labeling seems like a prudent idea. But beyond this is the larger
issue that this study brings up: Is it wise to subject children and
who are heavy juice drinkers to additional fluoride in their water?
Here's a little-publicized reality: Cooking can greatly increase a
fluoride content. Peas, for example, contain 12 micrograms of fluoride
raw and 1500 micrograms after they are cooked in fluoridated water,
is a tremendous difference. Also, we should keep in mind that fluoride
an ingredient in pharmaceuticals, aerosols, insecticides, and
And of course, toothpastes. It's interesting to note that in the
fluoridated toothpastes were required to carry warnings on their
saying that they were not to be used in areas where water was already
fluoridated. Crest toothpaste went so far as to write: "Caution:
under 6 should not use Crest." These regulations were dropped in 1958,
although no new research was available to prove that the overdose
Today, common fluoride levels in toothpaste are 1000 ppm. Research
Woodfun Ligon notes that swallowing a small amount adds substantially
fluoride intake.36 Dentists say that children commonly ingest up to
of fluoride a day from toothpaste.36
This inevitably raises another issue: How safe is all this fluoride?
According to scientists and informed doctors, such as Dr. John Lee, it
not safe at all. Dr. Lee first took an anti-fluoridation stance back
1972, when as chairman of an environmental health committee for a
medical society, he was asked to state their position on the subject.
stated that after investigating the references given by both pro- and
anti-fluoridationists, the group discovered three important things:
"One, the claims of benefit of fluoride, the 60% reduction of
not established by any of these studies. Two, we found that the
investigations into the toxic side effects of fluoride have not been
in any way that was acceptable. And three, we discovered that the
of the amount of fluoride in the food chain, in the total daily
intake, had been measured in 1943, and not since then. By adding the
of fluoride that we now have in the food chain, which comes from food
processing with fluoridated water, plus all the fluoridated toothpaste
was not present in 1943, we found that the daily intake of fluoride
in excess of what was considered optimal."31
What happens when fluoride intake exceeds the optimal? The inescapable
is that this substance has been associated with severe health
ranging from skeletal and dental fluorosis to bone fractures, to
poisoning, and even to cancer.
When fluoride is ingested, approximately 93% of it is absorbed into
bloodstream. A good part of the material is excreted, but the rest is
deposited in the bones and teeth,37 and is capable of causing a
skeletal fluorosis. This is a condition that can damage the
and nervous systems and result in muscle wasting, limited joint
spine deformities, and calcification of the ligaments, as well as
neurological deficits. 38
Large numbers of people in Japan, China, India, the Middle East, and
have been diagnosed with skeletal fluorosis from drinking naturally
fluoridated water. In India alone, nearly a million people suffer from
affliction.39 While only a dozen cases of skeletal fluorosis have been
reported in the United States, Chemical and Engineering News states
"critics of the EPA standard speculate that there probably have been
more cases of fluorosis - even crippling fluorosis - than the few
in the literature because most doctors in the U.S. have not studied
disease and do not know how to diagnose it."40
Radiologic changes in bone occur when fluoride exposure is 5 mg/day,
according to the late Dr. George Waldbott, author of Fluoridation: The
Great Dilemma. While this 5 mg/day level is the amount of fluoride
by most people living in fluoridated areas,41 the number increases for
diabetics and laborers, who can ingest up to 20 mg of fluoride daily.
addition, a survey conducted by the Department of Agriculture shows
of the U.S. population drinks 4 liters or more of water every day. If
individuals live in areas where the water contains a fluoride level of
ppm, allowed by the EPA, they are ingesting 16 mg/day from the
of water alone, and are thus at greater risk for getting skeletal
According to a 1989 National Institute for Dental Research study, 1-2%
children living in areas fluoridated at 1 ppm develop dental
that is, permanently stained, brown mottled teeth. Up to 23% of
living in areas naturally fluoridated at 4 ppm develop severe dental
fluorosis.43 Other research gives higher figures. The publication
Effects of Ingested Fluoride, put out by the National Academy of
reports that in areas with optimally fluoridated water (1 ppm, either
natural or added), dental fluorosis levels in recent years ranged from
51%. Recently, a prevalence of slightly over 80% was reported in
12-14 years old in Augusta, Georgia.43
Fluoride is a noteworthy chemical additive in that its officially
acknowledged benefit and damage levels are about the same. Writing in
Progressive, science journalist Daniel Grossman elucidates this point:
"Though many beneficial chemicals are dangerous when consumed at
levels, fluoride is unique because the amount that dentists recommend
prevent cavities is about the same as the amount that causes dental
fluorosis."44 Although the American Dental Association and the
consider dental fluorosis only a cosmetic problem, the American
Public Health says that "...brittleness of moderately and severely
teeth may be associated with elevated caries levels."45 In other
these cases the fluoride is causing the exact problem that it's
prevent. Yiamouyiannis adds, "In highly naturally-fluoridated areas,
teeth actually crumble as a result. These are the first visible
Also, when considering dental fluorosis, there are factors beyond the
physical that you can't ignore - the negative psychological effects of
having moderately to severely mottled teeth. These were recognized in
1984 National Institute of Mental Health panel that looked into this
A telling trend is that TV commercials for toothpaste, and toothpaste
themselves, are now downplaying fluoride content as a virtue. This was
noted in an article in the Sarasota/Florida ECO Report,47 whose
George Glasser, feels that manufacturers are distancing themselves
additive because of fears of lawsuits. The climate is ripe for these,
Glasser points out that such a class action suit has already been
England against the manufacturers of fluoride-containing products on
of children suffering from dental fluorosis.
At one time, fluoride therapy was recommended for building denser
preventing fractures associated with osteoporosis. Now several
peer-reviewed journals suggest that fluoride actually causes more harm
good, as it is associated with bone breakage. Three studies reported
Journal of the American Medical Association showed links between hip
fractures and fluoride.48-50 Findings here were, for instance, that
is "a small but significant increase in the risk of hip fractures in
men and women exposed to artificial fluoridation at 1 ppm."51 In
the New England Journal of Medicine reports that people given fluoride
cure their osteoporosis actually wound up with an increased
fracture rate.52 Austrian researchers have also found that fluoride
make bones more susceptible to fractures.53 The U.S. National Research
Council states that the U.S. hip fracture rate is now the highest in
Louis V. Avioli, professor at the Washington University School of
says in a 1987 review of the subject: "Sodium fluoride therapy is
accompanied by so many medical complications and side effects that it
hardly worth exploring in depth as a therapeutic mode for
osteoporosis, since it fails to decrease the propensity for hip
and increases the incidence of stress fractures in the extremities."54
In May 1992, 260 people were poisoned, and one man died, in Hooper
Alaska, after drinking water contaminated with 150 ppm of fluoride.
accident was attributed to poor equipment and an unqualified
Was this a fluke? Not at all. Over the years, the CDC has recorded
incidents of excessive fluoride permeating the water supply and
or killing people. We don't usually hear about these occurrences in
reports, but interested citizens have learned the truth from data
under the Freedom of Information Act. Here is a partial list of toxic
spills we have not been told about:
July 1993 - Chicago, Illinois: Three dialysis patients died and five
experienced toxic reactions to the fluoridated water used in the
process. The CDC was asked to investigate, but to date there have been
May 1993 - Kodiak, Alaska (Old Harbor): The population was warned not
consume water due to high fluoride levels. They were also cautioned
boiling the water, since this concentrates the substance and worsens
danger. Although equipment appeared to be functioning normally, 22-24
of fluoride was found in a sample.
July 1992 - Marin County, California: A pump malfunction allowed too
fluoride into the Bon Tempe treatment plant. Two million gallons of
fluoridated water were diverted to Phoenix Lake, elevating the lake
by more than two inches and forcing some water over the spillway.
December 1991 - Benton Harbor, Michigan: A faulty pump allowed
approximately 900 gallons of hydrofluosilicic acid to leak into a
storage building at the water plant. City engineer Roland Klockow
"The concentrated hydrofluosilicic acid was so corrosive that it ate
through more than two inches of concrete in the storage building."
water did not reach water consumers, but fluoridation was stopped
June 1993. The original equipment was only two years old.
July 1991 - Porgate, Michigan: After a fluoride injector pump failed,
fluoride levels reached 92 ppm and resulted in approximately 40
developing abdominal pains, sickness, vomiting, and diarrhea at a
arts and crafts show.
November 1979 - Annapolis, Maryland: One patient died and eight became
after renal dialysis treatment. Symptoms included cardiac arrest
(resuscitated), hypotension, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a
gamut of intestinal problems. Patients not on dialysis also reported
nausea, headaches, cramps, diarrhea, and dizziness. The fluoride level
later found to be 35 ppm; the problem was traced to a valve at a water
plant that had been left open all night.55
Instead of addressing fluoridation's problematic safety record,
have chosen to cover it up. For example, the ADA says in one booklet
distributed to health agencies that "Fluoride feeders are designed to
operating when a malfunction occurs... so prolonged over-fluoridation
becomes a mechanical impossibility."56 In addition, the information
does reach the population after an accident is woefully inaccurate. A
in Annapolis, Maryland, placed thousands at risk, but official reports
reduced the number to eight.57 Perhaps officials are afraid they will
invite more lawsuits like the one for $480 million by the wife of a
dialysis patient who became brain-injured as the result of fluoride
Not all fluoride poisoning is accidental. For decades, industry has
knowingly released massive quantities of fluoride into the air and
Disenfranchised communities, with people least able to fight back, are
often the victims. Medical writer Joel Griffiths relays this
what industrial pollution can do, in this case to a devastatingly
"Cows crawled around the pasture on their bellies, inching along like
snails. So crippled by bone disease they could not stand up, this was
only way they could graze. Some died kneeling, after giving birth to
stunted calves. Others kept on crawling until, no longer able to chew
because their teeth had crumbled down to the nerves, they began to
starve...." They were the cattle of the Mohawk Indians on the New
York-Canadian St. Regis Reservation during the period 1960-1975, when
industrial pollution devastated the herd - and along with it, the
way of life....Mohawk children, too, have shown signs of damage to
Mohawks filed suit against the Reynolds Metals Company and the
Company of America (Alcoa) in 1960, but ended up settling out of
where they received $650,000 for their cows.59
Fluoride is one of industry's major pollutants, and no one remains
to its effects. In 1989, 155,000 tons were being released annually
air,60 and 500,000 tons a year were disposed of in our lakes, rivers,
Numerous studies demonstrate links between fluoridation and cancer;
however, agencies promoting fluoride consistently refute or cover up
In 1977, Dr. John Yiamouyiannis and Dr. Dean Burk, former chief
the National Cancer Institute, released a study that linked
10,000 cancer deaths per year in the U.S. Their inquiry, which
cancer deaths in the ten largest fluoridated American cities to those
the ten largest unfluoridated cities between 1940 and 1950, discovered
greater rate in the fluoridated areas.62 The NCI disputed these
since an earlier analysis of theirs apparently failed to pick up these
extra deaths. Federal authorities claimed that Yiamouyiannis and Burk
in error, and that any increase was caused by statistical changes over
years in age, gender, and racial composition.63
In order to settle the question of whether or not fluoride is a
a Congressional subcommittee instructed the National Toxicology
(NTP) to perform another investigation.64 That study, due in 1980, was
released until 1990. However, in 1986, while the study was delayed,
raised the standard fluoride level in drinking water from 2.4 to 4
After this step, some of the government's own employees in NFFE Local
took what the Oakland Tribune termed the "remarkable step of
that action as political."66
When the NTP study results became known in early 1990, union president
Robert Carton, who works in the EPA's Toxic Substances Division,
a statement. It read, in part: "Four years ago, NFFE Local 2050, which
represents all 1100 professionals at EPA headquarters, alerted then
Administrator Lee Thomas to the fact that the scientific support
for the fluoride in drinking water standard were fatally flawed. The
fluoride juggernaut proceeded as it apparently had for the last 40
without any regard for the facts or concern for public health.
"EPA raised the allowed level of fluoride before the results of the
rat/mouse study ordered by Congress in 1977 was complete. Today, we
out how irresponsible that decision was. The results reported by NTP,
explained today by Dr. Yiamouyiannis, are, as he notes, not surprising
considering the vast amount of data that caused the animal study to be
conducted in the first place. The results are not surprising to NFFE
2050 either. Four years ago we realized that the claim that there was
evidence that fluoride could cause genetic effects or cancer could not
supported by the shoddy document thrown together by the EPA
"It was apparent to us that EPA bowed to political pressure without
done an in-depth, independent analysis, using in-house experts, of the
currently existing data that show fluoride causes genetic effects,
the growth of cancerous tissue, and is likely to cause cancer in
EPA had done so, it would have been readily apparent - as it was to
Congress in 1977 - that there were serious reasons to believe in a
"The behavior by EPA in this affair raises questions about the
science at EPA and the role of professional scientists, lawyers and
engineers who provide the interpretation of the available data and the
judgements necessary to protect the public health and the environment.
scientists at EPA there to arrange facts to fit preconceived
Does the Agency have a responsibility to develop world-class experts
risks posed by chemicals we are exposed to every day, or is it
for EPA to cynically shop around for contractors who will provide them
What were the NTP study results? Out of 130 male rats that ingested 45
79 ppm of fluoride, 5 developed osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.
were cases, in both males and females at those doses, of squamous cell
carcinoma in the mouth.68 Both rats and mice had dose-related
the teeth, and female rats suffered osteosclerosis of the long
When Yiamouyiannis analyzed the same data, he found mice with a
particularly rare form of liver cancer, known as
This cancer is so rare, according to Yiamouyiannis, that the odds of
appearance in this study by chance are 1 in 2 million in male mice and
100,000 in female mice.39 He also found precancerous changes in oral
squamous cells, an increase in squamous cell tumors and cancers, and
thyroid follicular cell tumors as a result of increasing levels of
in drinking water.70
A March 13, 1990, New York Times article commented on the NTP
"Previous animal tests suggesting that water fluoridation might pose
to humans have been widely discounted as technically flawed, but the
investigation carefully weeded out sources of experimental or
error, many scientists say, and cannot be discounted."71 In the same
article, biologist Dr. Edward Groth notes: "The importance of this
study...is that it is the first fluoride bioassay giving positive
in which the latest state-of-the-art procedures have been rigorously
applied. It has to be taken seriously."71
On February 22, 1990, the Medical Tribune, an international medical
weekly received by 125,000 doctors, offered the opinion of a federal
scientist who preferred to remain anonymous:
"It is difficult to see how EPA can fail to regulate fluoride as a
carcinogen in light of what NTP has found. Osteosarcomas are an
unusual result in rat carcinogenicity tests. Toxicologists tell me
only other substance that has produced this is radium....The fact that
is a highly atypical form of cancer implicates fluoride as the cause.
the osteosarcomas appeared to be dose-related, and did not occur in
controls, making it a clean study."72
Public health officials were quick to assure a concerned public that
was nothing to worry about! The ADA said the occurrence of cancers in
lab may not be relevant to humans since the level of fluoridation in
experimental animals' water was so high.73 But the Federal Register,
is the handbook of government practices, disagrees: "The high exposure
experimental animals to toxic agents is a necessary and valid method
discovering possible carcinogenic hazards in man. To disavow the
of this test would be to disavow those of all such tests, since they
all conducted according to this standard."73 As a February 5, 1990,
Newsweek article pointed out, "such megadosing is standard
practice. It's the only way to detect an effect without using an
large number of test animals to stand in for the humans exposed to the
substance."74 And as the Safer Water Foundation explains, higher doses
generally administered to test animals to compensate for the animals'
shorter life span and because humans are generally more vulnerable
test animals on a body-weight basis.
Several other studies link fluoride to genetic damage and cancer. An
article in Mutation Research says that a study by Proctor and Gamble,
very company that makes Crest toothpaste, did research showing that 1
fluoride causes genetic damage.76 Results were never published but
and Gamble called them "clean," meaning animals were supposedly free
malignant tumors. Not so, according to scientists who believe some of
changes observed in test animals could be interpreted as
Yiamouyiannis says the Public Health Service sat on the data, which
finally released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 1989.
they are biased, they have tried to cover up harmful effects," he
"But the data speaks for itself. Half the amount of fluoride that is
in the New York City drinking water causes genetic damage."46
A National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences publication,
Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, also linked fluoride to
toxicity when it stated that "in cultured human and rodent cells, the
weight of evidence leads to the conclusion that fluoride exposure
in increased chromosome aberrations."78 The result of this is not only
birth defects but the mutation of normal cells into cancer cells. The
Journal of Carcinogenesis further states that "fluoride not only has
ability to transform normal cells into cancer cells but also to
cancer-causing properties of other chemicals."79
Surprisingly, the PHS put out a report called Review of fluoride:
and risks, in which they showed a substantially higher incidence of
cancer in young men exposed to fluoridated water compared to those who
not. The New Jersey Department of Health also found that the risk of
cancer was about three times as high in fluoridated areas as in
Despite cover-up attempts, the light of knowledge is filtering through
some enlightened scientists. Regarding animal test results, the
the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, James
does say that "the reason these animals got a few osteosarcomas was
they were given fluoride...Bone is the target organ for fluoride."80
Toxicologist William Marcus adds that "fluoride is a carcinogen by any
standard we use. I believe EPA should act immediately to protect the
public, not just on the cancer data, but on the evidence of bone
arthritis, mutagenicity, and other effects."81
The Challenge of
Given all the scientific challenges to the idea of the safety of
why does it remain a protected contaminant? As Susan Pare of the
Health Action asks, "...even if fluoride in the water did reduce tooth
decay, which it does not, how can the EPA allow a substance more toxic
Alar, red dye #3, and vinyl chloride to be injected purposely into
This is certainly a logical question and, with all the good science
seems to exist on the subject, you would think that there would be a
deal of interest in getting fluoride out of our water supply.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. As Dr. William Marcus, a
science advisor in the EPA's Office of Drinking Water, has found, the
governmental priority has been to sweep the facts under the rug and,
need be, to suppress truth-tellers. Marcus explains83 that fluoride is
of the chemicals the EPA specifically regulates, and that he was
the data coming in on fluoride very carefully when a determination was
going to be made on whether the levels should be changed. He
that the data were not being heeded. But that was only the beginning
story for him. Marcus recounts what happened:
"The studies that were done by Botel Northwest showed that there was
increased level of bone cancer and other types of cancer in
that same study, there were very rare liver cancers, according to the
board-certified veterinary pathologists at the contractor, Botel.
really were very upsetting because they were hepatocholangeal
very rare liver cancers....Then there were several other kinds of
that were found in the jaw and other places.
"I felt at that time that the reports were alarming. They showed that
levels of fluoride that can cause cancers in animals are actually
than those levels ingested in people (who take lower amounts but for
periods of time).
"I went to a meeting that was held in Research Triangle Park, in April
1990, in which the National Toxicology Program was presenting their
of the study. I went with several colleagues of mine, one of whom was
board-certified veterinary pathologist who originally reported
hepatocholangeal carcinoma as a separate entity in rats and mice. I
him if he would look at the slides to see if that really was a tumor
the pathologists at Botel had made an error. He told me after looking
the slides that, in fact, it was correct.
"At the meeting, every one of the cancers reported by the contractor
been downgraded by the National Toxicology Program. I have been in the
toxicology business looking at studies of this nature for nearly 25
and I have never before seen every single cancer endpoint
found that very suspicious and went to see an investigator in the
at the suggestion of my friend, Bob Carton. This gentleman and his
investigated very thoroughly and found out that the scientists at the
National Toxicology Program down at Research Triangle Park had been
by their superiors to change their findings."83
Once Dr. Marcus acted on his findings, something ominous started to
in his life: "...I wrote an internal memorandum and gave it to my
supervisors. I waited for a month without hearing anything. Usually,
get a feedback in a week or so. I wrote another memorandum to a person
was my second-line supervisor explaining that if there was even a
chance of increased cancer in the general population, since 140
people were potentially ingesting this material, that the deaths could
in the many thousands. Then I gave a copy of the memorandum to the
Work Group, who waited some time and then released it to the press.
"Once it got into the press all sorts of things started happening at
was getting disciplinary threats, being isolated, and all kinds of
thingswhich ultimately resulted in them firing me on March 15,
In order to be reinstated at work, Dr. Marcus took his case to court.
the process, he learned that the government had engaged in various
activities, including 70 felony counts, in order to get him fired. At
same time, those who committed perjury were not held accountable for
fact, they were rewarded for their efforts:
"When we finally got the EPA to the courtroom...they admitted to doing
several things to get me fired. We had notes of a meeting...that
that fluoride was one of the main topics discussed and that it was
that they would fire me with the help of the Inspector General. When
them on the stand and showed them the memoranda, they finally
and said, oh yes, we lied about that in our previous statements.
"Then...they admitted to shredding more than 70 documents that they
hand - Freedom of Information requests. That's a felony.... In
they charged me with stealing time from the government. They...tried
show...that I had been doing private work on government time and
paid for it. When we came to court, I was able to show that the time
they produced were forged, and forged by the Inspector General's
For all his efforts, Dr. Marcus was rehired, but nothing else has
"The EPA was ordered to rehire me, which they did. They were given a
series of requirements to be met, such as paying me my back pay,
my leave, privileges, and sick leave and annual leave. The only thing
they've done is put me back to work. They haven't given me any of
things that they were required to do."83
What is at the core of such ruthless tactics? John Yiamouyiannis feels
the central concern of government is to protect industry, and that the
motivating force behind fluoride use is the need of certain businesses
dump their toxic waste products somewhere. They try to be
the disposal process and not make waves. "As is normal,
the solution to pollution is dilution. You poison everyone a little
rather than poison a few people a lot. This way, people don't know
Since the Public Health Service has promoted the fluoride myth for
years, they're concerned about protecting their reputation. So
like Dr. Marcus, who know about the dangers, are intimidated into
silent. Otherwise, they jeopardize their careers. Dr. John Lee
"Back in 1943, the PHS staked their professional careers on the
and safety of fluoride. It has since become bureaucratized. Any public
health official who criticizes fluoride, or even hints that perhaps it
an unwise decision, is at risk of losing his career entirely. This has
happened time and time again. Public health officials such as Dr. Gray
British Columbia and Dr. Colquhoun in New Zealand found no benefit
fluoridation. When they reported these results, they immediately lost
careers.... This is what happens - the public health officials who
out against fluoride are at great risk of losing their careers on the
Yiamouyiannis adds that for the authorities to admit that they're
would be devastating. "It would show that their reputations really
mean that much.... They don't have the scientific background. As Ralph
Nader once said, if they admit they're wrong on fluoridation, people
ask, and legitimately so, what else have they not told us right?"46
Accompanying a loss in status would be a tremendous loss in revenue.
Yiamouyiannis points out that "the indiscriminate careless handling of
fluoride has a lot of companies, such as Exxon, U.S. Steel, and Alcoa,
making tens of billions of dollars in extra profits at our expense....
them to go ahead now and admit that this is bad, this presents a
threat, would mean tens of billions of dollars in lost profit because
would have to handle fluoride properly. Fluoride is present in
from phosphate fertilizers to cracking agents for the petroleum
Fluoride could only be legally disposed of at a great cost to
Dr. Bill Marcus explains, "There are prescribed methods for disposal
they're very expensive. Fluoride is a very potent poison. It's a
pesticide, used for killing rats or mice.... If it were to be disposed
it would require a class-one landfill. That would cost the people who
producing aluminum or fertilizer about $7000+ per 5000- to 6000-gallon
truckload to dispose of it. It's highly corrosive."83
Another problem is that the U.S. judicial system, even when convinced
the dangers, is powerless to change policy. Yiamouyiannis tells of his
involvement in court cases in Pennsylvania and Texas in which, while
judges were convinced that fluoride was a health hazard, they did not
the jurisdiction to grant relief from fluoridation. That would have to
done, it was ultimately found, through the legislative process.46
Interestingly, the judiciary seems to have more power to effect change
other countries. Yiamouyiannis states that when he presented the same
technical evidence in Scotland, the Scottish court outlawed
based on the evidence.46
Indeed, most of western Europe has rejected fluoridation on the
that it is unsafe. In 1971, after 11 years of testing, Sweden's Nobel
Medical Institute recommended against fluoridation, and the process
banned. The Netherlands outlawed the practice in 1976, after 23 years
tests. France decided against it after consulting with its Pasteur
Institute64 and West Germany, now Germany, rejected the practice
the recommended dosage of 1 ppm was "too close to the dose at which
long-term damage to the human body is to be expected."84 Dr. Lee sums
up: "All of western Europe, except one or two test towns in Spain, has
abandoned fluoride as a public health plan. It is not put in the water
anywhere. They all established test cities and found that the benefits
not occur and the toxicity was evident."31
Isn't it time the United States followed western Europe's example?
the answer is obvious, it is also apparent that government policy is
unlikely to change without public support. We therefore must
with legislators, and insist on one of our most precious resources -
unadulterated drinking water. Yiamouyiannis urges all American people
so, pointing out that public pressure has gotten fluoride out of the
in places like Los Angeles; Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey; and
46 He emphasizes the immediacy of the problem:
"There is no question with regard to fluoridation of public water
It is absolutely unsafe...and should be stopped immediately. This is
causing more destruction to human health than any other single
added purposely or inadvertently to the water supply. We're talking
35,000 excess deaths a year...10,000 cancer deaths a year...130
people who are being chronically poisoned. We're not talking about
dead after drinking a glass of fluoridated water.... It takes its toll
human health and life, glass after glass."46
There is also a moral issue in the debate that has largely escaped
According to columnist James Kilpatrick, it is "the right of each
control the drugs he or she takes." Kilpatrick calls fluoridation
compulsory mass medication, a procedure that violates the principles
medical ethics.13 A recent New York Times editorial agrees:
"In light of the uncertainty, critics [of fluoridation] argue that
administrative bodies are unjustified in imposing fluoridation on
communities without obtaining public consent.... The real issue here
just the scientific debate. The question is whether any establishment
the right to decide that benefits outweigh risks and impose
medication on an entire population. In the case of fluoridation, the
establishment has made opposition to fluoridation seem intellectually
disreputable. Some people regard that as tyranny."85
Gary Null, PhD
P. O. Box 918
New York, New York 10024 USA
1. Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, in interview with Gary Null, 3/10/95. His
statement is referenced in the Clinical Toxicology of Commercial
Fifth Ed., Williams and Wilkins.
2. Joel Griffiths, "Fluoride: Commie Plot or Capitalist Ploy," Covert
Action, Fall 1992, Vol. 42, p. 30.
3. Ibid., p. 27.
4. Ibid., p. 28.
6. McNeil, The Fight for Fluoridation, 1957, p. 37.
7. Griffiths, op. cit., p. 28.
8. Griffiths, op. cit.
9. G.L. Waldbott et al., Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma, Lawrence,
Coronado Press, 1978, p. 295.
10. Paul Farhi, Washington Post, 11/23/91.
11. Griffiths, op. cit., p. 63.
12. Longevity Magazine, pp. 7-89.
13. The Morning Call, 2/7/90
14. Science, 1/90.
15. Waldbott, op. cit., p. 255.
16. Letter, Rebecca Hammer, 3/83.
17. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, "Policy statement on
water fluoridation," July 22, 1992, Washington, D.C.
18. Chemical and Engineering News, 8/1/88, p. 29; Amer. J. Pub.
editorial, 5/89, p. 561; J.A. Brunelle and J.P. Carlos, "Recent trends
dental caries in U.S. children and the effect of water fluoridation,"
19. Los Angeles Times. 1/ 26/95..
20. The Chicago Tribune, 1/26/95.
21. A.S. Gray, Canadian Dental Association Journal, October 1987, pp.
22. Letter, Sierra Club to Wm. K. Reilly, EPA, 7/21/89.
23. John Yiamouyiannis, Fluoride, 1990, Vol. 23, pp. 55-67.
24. Center for Health Action, 3/30/90.
25. Clinical Pediatrics, Nov. 1991.
26. ADA News, 10/17/94.
27. Chemical and Engineering News, 8/1/88, p.31.
28. Waldbott, op. cit., p. xvii.
29. Statement by Dr. James Patrick before Congressional Subcommittee,
30. Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, Vol. 59, Apr. 1993, p.
31. Gary Null interview with Dr. John Lee, 3/10/95.
32. F. Exner and G. Waldbott, The American fluoridation experiment,
33. Federal Register, 12/24/75.
34. Chemical and Engineering News, 8/1/88, p. 33.
35. Jan G. Stannard et al., "Fluoride levels and fluoride
fruit juices," The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, Vol. 16,
1991, pp. 38-40.
36. Waldbott, op. cit., pp. 307-308.
37. Chemical and Engineering News, 8/1/88, p. 49.
38. New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, release, 11/89.
39. Gary Null interview with Dr. John Yiamouyiannis 4/28/90.
40. Chemical and Engineering News, 8/1/88, p. 36.
41. Waldbott, op. cit., p. 38.
42. F. Exner and G. Waldbott, op. cit., pp. 42-43.
43. Schenectady Gazette Star, 8/5/89.
44. Daniel Grossman, "Fluoride's Revenge,"
Dec. 1990, pp. 29-31.
45. American Journal of Public Health, 12/85.
46. Gary Null interview with Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, 3/10/95.
47. George Glasser, "Dental Fluorosis - A Legal Time Bomb!"
Sarasota/Florida ECO Report, Vol. 5, No. 2, Feb. 1995, pp. 1-5.
48. JAMA, Vol. 264, July 25, 1990, pp. 500
49. Cooper et al., JAMA, Vol. 266, July 24, 1991, pp. 513-14.
50. Christa Danielson et al., "Hip fractures and fluoridation in
elderly population," JAMA, Vol. 268, Aug. 12, 1992, pp. 746-48.
51. Ibid., p. 746.
52. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 322, pp. 802-809.
53. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 11/94.
54. U.S. National Research Council, Diet and Health, Washington, D.C.,
National Academy Press, 1989, p. 121.
55. "Middletown, Maryland latest city to receive toxic spill of
their drinking water," report by Truth About Fluoride, Inc., in
Letter for Doctors, 10/15/94, p. 1124.
56. Reprinted by M. Bevis, "Morbidity associated with
community water fluoride," CDC, Dental Div., 6/11/92, distributed by
Water Foundation of Texas.
57. Townsend Letter for Doctors, 10/94, p. 1125.
58. Janet Raloff, "The St. Regis Syndrome," Science News, July 19,
pp. 42-43; reprinted in Griffiths, op. cit., p. 26.
59. Robert Tomalin, "Dumping grounds," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29,
reprinted in Griffiths, op. cit.
60. "Summary review of health effects associated with hydrogen
acid related compounds," EPA Report Number 600/8-29/002F, Dec. 1988,
61. John Yiamouyiannis, Lifesaver's Guide to Fluoridation, Delaware,
Safe Water Foundation, 1983, p. 1.
62. John Yiamouyiannis and Dean Burk, "Fluoridation of public water
and cancer death rates in humans," presented at the 57th annual
the American Society of Biological Chemists, and published in
Vol. 10, No. 3, 1977, pp. 102-103.
63. National Institute of Dental Research, "Fluoridation of water and
cancer: a review of the epidemiological efficiency," 1985, pp. 10-13.
64. New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation.
65. Newsday, 2/27/90.
66. Oakland Tribune, 2/16/90.
67. NFFE Local 2050, 3/90.
68. Washington Post, 2/20/90.
69. The Lancet, 2/3/90.
70. Center for Health Action.
71. M.W. Browne, The New York Times, 3/13/90.
72. Medical Tribune, 2/22/90.
73. New York State Medical News, 3/90.
74. S. Begley, Newsweek, 2/5/90.
75. Safe Water Foundation, 3/4/90.
76. Mutation Research, Vol. 223, pp. 191-203.
77. Joel Griffiths, Medical Tribune, 2/22/90.
78. Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, Vol. 21, pp. 309-318.
79. Journal of Carcinogenesis, Vol. 9, pp. 2279-2284.
80. Mark Lowey, "Scientists question health risks of fluoride,"
Herald, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Feb. 28, 1992; in Griffiths, op.
81. Griffiths, op. cit., p. 66.
82. Center for Health Action, 3/90.
83. Gary Null interview with Dr. William Marcus, 3/10/95.
84. Longevity Magazine, 7/89.
85. The New York Times, 3/13/90.
Gary Null, PhD, award winning investigative reporter, has authored 50
on health and nutrition, as well as numerous articles published in
magazines. Dr. Null holds a PhD in human nutrition and public health
science from the Union Graduate School. Former publisher of Natural
Newsletter, the current Gary Null's Natural Living Journal reports on
healthy alternatives in today's medicine, nutrition and lifestyle
ten times a year, and is available by calling 516-547-7177. Null hosts
nationally syndicated radio show, Natural Living, from New York City.
212-799-1246 for a radio listing in your area.
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