Fluoridation Hoax; Fact or Fiction?
by Dr. Ronald S. Laura
and John F. Ashton
DOES IT BENEFIT YOU? OR BIG BUSINESS!
The controversy surrounding fluoridation raises a number of
important socio-ethical issues which cannot be overlooked. One of
the most burning questions is whether the fluoridation program
represents a milestone in the advancement of community health or the
opportunistic outcome of a powerful lobby concerned largely to
advance its own vested interests at the expense of the interests of
the public. The historical origins of fluoridation are revealing,
though we shall for obvious reasons in what follows not interpret
the revelation itself, but rather tease out a few of the truly
remarkable coincidences which make those origins revelatory.
In a more direct approach to a related issue, however, we shall
argue that the potential and actual health risks associated with
fluoridation have not been sufficiently appreciated by those in
favor of fluoridation. The intentional introduction of fluorides in
drinking water has certainly not received the rigorous scrutiny and
testing properly brought to bear on the wide array of available
medical drugs, many of which can be bought without prescription.
Finally, we urge that even if it were
determined that the addition of a minimal amount of fluoride to our
water supply was both safe and effective in the reduction of caries
in the teeth of children, the relevant dosage of fluorides could not
be satisfactorily restricted to ensure that the harmful effects of
fluoride did not outweigh the alleged beneficial effects.
THE GENESIS OF FLUORIDATION
Many readers will be surprised to hear that fluorides have been in
use for a long time, but not in the prevention of tooth decay. The
Dr. Ronald S. Laura is a professor of education at the University of
Newcastle and is a PERC Fellow in Health Education, Harvard
University, and John F. Ashton teaches in the department of
education at the University of Newcastle.
now, in the name of health, add to our drinking water were for
nearly four decades used as stomach poison, insecticides and
rodenticides. Fluorides are believed to exert their toxic action on
pests by combining with and inhibiting many enzymes that contain
elements such as iron, calcium and magnesium. For similar reasons
fluorides are also highly toxic to plants, disrupting the delicate
biochemical balance in respect of which photosynthesis takes place.
Nor is there any reason to suspect that
humans are immune from the effects of this potent poison. Even a
quick perusal of the indexes of most reference manuals on industrial
toxicology list a section on the hazards of handling fluoride
compounds. In assessing the toxicity levels of fluorides Sax
confirms that doses of 25 to 50 mg must be regarded as "highly
toxic" and can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and CNS
It is crucial to recognize from the outset that fluoride is a highly
toxic substance. Appreciation of this simple point makes it easier
to understand the natural reluctance on the part of some to accept
without question the compulsory ingestion of a poison to obtain
partial control of what would generally be regarded as a
The potent toxicity of fluoride and the
narrow limits of human tolerance (between 1-5 ppm) make the question
of optimum concentration of paramount importance.
FLUORINE WASTES-A MAJOR POLLUTANT
The fluoridation controversy becomes even more interesting when we
realize that industrial fluorine wastes have since the early 1900s
been one of the main pollutants of our lakes, streams and aquifers,
causing untold losses to farmers in regard to the poisoning of stock
Fluorides such as hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride are
emitted by phosphate fertilizer manufacturing plants (phosphate
rock can typically contain 3 percent fluoride). The industrial
process of steel production, certain chemical processing and
particularly aluminium production which involves the electrolysis of
alumina in a bath of molten cryolite (sodium aluminium hexafluoride)
all release considerable quantities of fluorides into the
The fluorides emitted are readily
absorbed by vegetation and are known to cause substantial leaf
injury. Even in concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb (parts per
billion), fluorides significantly reduce both the growth and yield
of crops. Livestock have also fallen victim to fluoride poisoning
caused primarily by ingesting contaminated vegetation.2 It is
reported that the Aluminum Corporation of America (ALCOA) was
confronted by annual claims for millions to compensate for the havoc
wreaked by their fluorine wastes.
It was in 1933 that the United States
Public Health Service (PHS) became particularly concerned about the
poisoning effect of fluoride on teeth determining that dental fluorosis (teeth mottled with yellow, brown and even black stains)
occurred amongst 25-30 percent of children when just over 1 ppm of
fluoride was present in drinking water.3 By 1942 the PHS, largely
under the guidance of Dr. H. Trendley Dean, legislated that drinking
water containing up to 1 ppm of fluoride was acceptable.
The PHS was not at this stage
introducing fluoridation—it was concerned mainly to define the
maximum allow-able limit beyond which fluoride concentrations should
be regarded as contaminating public water supplies.
Dean's research investigations also
indicated that although 1 ppm fluoride concentration caused enamel
fluorosis or mottling in a small percentage of children (up to 10
percent), it also served to provide partial protection against
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Dean was also well aware that fluoride concentrations of as little
as 2 ppm could constitute a public health concern, causing severe
dental fluorosis. Coincidentally, the U.S. PHS was at the time
sponsored under the Department of the Treasury, the chief officer of
which was Andrew Mellon, owner of ALCOA. In 1939
Institute (established and con-trolled by the family of Andrew
Mellon), employed a scientist, Dr. Gerald Cox, to find a viable
market for the industrial fluoride wastes associated with the
production of aluminium.
Of this intriguing series of connections
between the interests of ALCOA and the story of fluoridation Walker
In 1939, Gerald Cox, a biochemist employed by the University of
Pittsburgh, was undertaking contract work for the Mellon Institute.
At a meeting of water engineers at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he first
put forward his idea to add fluoride to public water supplies. By
1940, Cox had become a member of the Food and Nutrition Board of the
National Research Council, and he prepared for this illustrious body
a series of submissions strongly promoting the idea of artificial
Dennis Stevenson also comments about this connection between Dr.
Cox, ALCOA and fluoridation but somewhat more cynically.
Dr. Cox then proposed artificial
water fluoridation as a means of reducing tooth decay. What
better way to solve the huge and costly problem of disposing of
toxic waste from aluminum manufacturers than getting paid to put
it in the drinking water? What an incredible coincidence— ALCOA
and the original fluoridation proposal.6
Nor do the chain of seeming coincidences
TOOTH DECAY IS NOT REDUCED BY WATER
A computer analysis of the data from the largest dental survey ever
done—of nearly 40,000 school children—by the National Institutes of
Dental Research revealed no correlation between tooth decay and
fluoridation. In fact, many of the non-fluoridated cities had better
tooth decay rates than fluoridated cities. The city with the lowest
rate of tooth decay was not fluoridated.
Of the three with the highest rate of
decay, two were partially fluoridated.
The Missouri State Bureau of Dental
Health had conducted a survey of more than 6,500 lifelong
resident second-and sixth-grade children in various parts of
Missouri and found that overall... there were no significant
differences between children drinking optimally fluoridated
water and children drinking sub-optimally fluoridated water.
—Albertt W. Burgstahler,
Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry, University of Kansas
...school districts reporting the highest caries-free rates,
were totally unfluoridated. How does one explain this?
—A. S. Gray, D.D.S.
Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, 1987
Caldwell refers to the very interesting
testimony of Miss Florence Birmingham on May 25-27, 1954, before the
Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, which had organized a
series of hearings on the fluoridation issue. As President of the
Massachusetts Women's Political Club, Miss Birmingham was on the
occasion representing some 50,000 women.
She is recorded as saying:
In 1944 Oscar Ewing was put on the payroll of the Aluminum
Company of America [ALCOA], as attorney; at an annual salary of
$750,000. This fact was established at a Senate hearing and became
part of the Congressional Record. Since the aluminum company had no
big litigation pending at the time, the question might logically be
asked, why such a large fee? A few months later Mr. Ewing was made
Federal Security Administrator with the announcement that he was
taking a big salary cut in order to serve his country.
... all surveys both here and in
Western Europe show that the reduction in [dental] caries over
the past 20 years is just as great in un-fluoridated as in
—John R. Lee, M.D.
Even the Journal of the American
Dental Association [states] that "the current reported decline
in caries in the U.S. and other Western industrialized countries
has been observed in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated
communities, with percentage reductions in each community
apparently about the same."
—Chemical & Engineering
News, 1 August 1988
INFANT MORTALITY RATES ARE HIGHEST IN
Figures released by the National Centre for Health Statistics reveal
that infant mortality is a big problem in the United States. The
data shows that the ten cities with the worst rate of infant
mortality have all been artificially fluoridated at least seventeen
years or longer!
After the first full year of
fluoridation Kansas City, Missouri's infant mortality increased
—The Kansas City Star, 21
After the fifth year of fluoridation in Kansas City, infant
mortality increased 36 percent.
—The Kansas City Star, 26
As head of the Federal Security Agency
(now the Department of Health, Education and Welfare), he
immediately started the ball rolling to sell "rat poison" by the ton
instead of in dime packages... sodium fluoride was dangerous waste
product of the aluminum company. They were not permitted to dump it
into rivers or fields where it would poison fish, cattle, etc.
Apparently someone conceived the brilliant idea of taking advantage
of the erroneous conclusions drawn from Deaf Smith County, Texas.*
a footnote Caldwell comments on this point:
This refers to a widely
circulated report published in a popular magazine in the
early forties, in which Dr. George Heard, a dentist in Deaf
Smith County, claimed he had no business because of the
natural fluoride in the water. Later, when Dr. Heard found
mottled teeth too brittle to fill and a rushing business
after supermarkets moved in with processed foods, he tried
in vain to set the record straight. He could find no
publisher for his new information. His original article was
entitled "The Town Without A Tootache." 8
The Aluminum Company of America then began selling sodium fluoride
to put in the drinking water.7
The series of events which thereafter
led to the apparently inevitable implementation of fluoridation
deserve also to be reviewed. In 1945 Grand Rapids, Michigan was
selected as the site of the first major longitudinal study of the
effects of fluoridation on the public at large. Comparisons were to
be made with the city of Muskegon, Michigan which remained
un-fluoridated so that it could be used as a control.9
Although the experiment was supposed to be undertaken over the
course of ten years to determine any cumulative side-effects which
might result from the fluoridation of municipal water, Ewing
intervened after only five years to declare the success of the study
in showing fluoridation to be safe.
As Walker puts it:
In June, 1950, half-way through the experiment, the U.S. PHS under
its Chief, Oscar Ewing, "endorsed" the safety and effectiveness of
artificial fluoridation; and encouraged its immediate adoption
through the States.10
One year later Ewing was able to convince the American Congress that
fluoridation was a necessity, and a total of two million U.S.
dollars (an enormous sum of money in those days) was immediately
directed to pro-mote the fluoridation program throughout the USA.11
While the circumstances surrounding Ewing's achievement were
revealing, an even more intriguing set of interconnections was yet
to be revealed. Miss Birmingham's testimony had included a statement
that "Mr. Ewing's propaganda expert was Edward L. Bernays."12
Her testimony continued:
We quote from Dr. Paul Manning's
article: 'The Federal Engineering of Consent." Nephew of Sigmund
Freud, the Vienna born Mr. Bernays is well documented in the
Faxon book published in 1951 (Rumford Press, Concord, N.H.);
Public Relations: Edward L. Bernays and the American Scene.
conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits
and opinions of the masses must be done by experts, the public
relations counsels (Bernays invented the term);
"they are the
invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions... the
most direct way to reach the herd is through the leaders. For,
if the group they dominate will respond... all this must be
planned... indoctrination must be subtle. It should be worked
into the everyday life of the people—24 hours a day in hundreds
A redefinition of ethics is necessary... the
subject matter of the propaganda need not necessarily be true,"
If the socio-ethical attitudes expressed
in this testimony are associated with the fluoridation program, it
is clear that we have more than just health reasons to be concerned
In 1979 Chemical & Engineering News13 published a review of a well
documented anti-fluoridation book by Waldbott.14 The unashamedly
pro-fluoridation review prompted a spate of letters criticizing the
tenor and content of the review, and re-asserted Waldbott's
persuasive case against fluoridation. One letter complained that the
reviewer was in fact explicitly urging readers not to take
seriously the various reports of fluoride poi-soning.15 Another
letter writer drew attention to another aspect of the review,
Waldbott does not base his objection to fluoridation merely on
dental fluorosis but on the broader issue of individual clinical
toxicity. Those of us in clinical practice (and our patients as
well) have much to be grateful to Waldbott for in our attention to
this aspect of fluoridation problems. The alert clinician who goes
beyond the orthodox practice of making diagnoses keyed to organicity
and providing symptomatic treatment will find in his practice those
individuals who are being made ill by fluoridation. It is this
insight that is Waldbott's greatest contribution . . .
A second major point bypassed in the book review is the fact of
dramatically increased dietary fluoride exposure, as confirmed by
the data of Rose and Marier (Canadian National Research Council),
Herta Spencer, Wiatroski, and others, including my own
food fluoride study ... It boggles the mind to argue, as the U.S. Public Health
Service does, that "optimal" water fluoridation levels should be the
same in 1979 as they were in 1943 when food fluoride was essentially
It is ironic that if fluoridation were to be raised as new concept
for the prevention of tooth decay today, the same government
agencies that might employ reviewer Burt would reject the proposal
without a second thought. It is only an accident of historical
scientific naïveté that fluoridation became an entrenched public
policy. The fact that 100 million Americans (and a large percentage
of them against their expressed desire) are subject to the
unnecessary ecologic burden of water fluoridation does not make it
Mandatory medication by fluoridation was not of course peculiar to
the United States. Australians have for more than three decades been
subject-ed to forced fluoridation of their drinking water. In 1953
the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia lent its
support to the mandatory mass-medication of Australians.17 It is
bizarre and disconcerting to find that the introduction of the
fluoridation program into our cities was also linked with political
and industrial interplay. These connections have been deftly exposed
by Walker and more recently by Wendy Varney in her book, Fluoride in
Australia—A Case to Answer.18
Today, Australia has "distinguished" itself by promoting the
fluoridation program with such vigor that Australia now ranks as the
comprehensively fluoridated country in the world. More than 70
percent of Australians are obliged to drink water to which fluorides
have been added. Brisbane is the only capital city which remains
un-fluoridated. Australia persists in its policy commitment to
artificial fluoridation, despite the fact that 98 percent of the
world's population has either discontinued fluoridation programs or
never begun them.
Statistics show that less than 40 percent of the U.S. is currently
fluoridated and less than 10 percent of England. Sweden, Scotland,
Norway, Hungary, Holland, West Germany, Denmark, and Belgium have
all discontinued fluoridation, to name only a few.19
CAN FLUORIDATION BE KEPT AT SAFE
Although 1 ppm is standardly defined as that level of fluoride
concentration which provides maximal protection against dental
decay, with mini-mal clinically observable dental fluorosis,
controversy ranges widely as to adverse effects of prolonged
fluoride exposure even at this level. As early as 1942, it was
reported that in areas of endemic fluorosis with fluoride
concentrations of 1 ppm or less, children with poor nutrition
suffered skeletal defects, coupled with severe mottling of teeth.
Even if one grants that fluoride concentrations of 1 ppm are
relatively safe, it has become increasingly clear that individual
levels of safe fluoride ingestion cannot be adequately controlled.
Drinking water dosages of fluoride, for example will depend partly
upon variable factors such as thirst. Liquid intakes also vary
according to age, work situation, climate and season and levels of
exercise. Athletes, for instance, tend to consume more water than
their non-athletic counterparts. Adjustments to municipal water
supplies cannot accommodate satisfactorily the wide array of
relevant individual differences of this kind.
In addition fluorides are ingested in varying quantities from many
unsuspected sources. Fluoride tablets, seemingly innocuous
mouthwashes, gels and even water-based tablets contribute to
dangerous increases in fluoride levels well beyond the recommended 1
ppm contained in drinking water. Although the point has yet to be
established definitively, it has been suggested that aluminum
cooking utensils and non-stick cookware which are coated with
Tetrafluoroethylene may exude fluoride into food, particularly if
they have surface scratches or are overheated.20
Even more surprising is the fact that
tea leaves contain sufficient fluoride that by drinking three to
eight cups daily, using fluoridated water, the total fluoride dosage
is somewhere between four and six times the safe maximum recommended
In addition to endemic fluorides in the
natural foods we eat, we are in many industrial cities forced to
breathe fluorides derived from factory emissions.22
FLUORIDE CONTAMINATION FROM BEVERAGE
By far the most common source of additional fluoride intake comes
from beverage consumption. Beverages which contain fluoridated water
include reconstituted juices, punches, popsicles, other water-based
frozen desserts and carbonated beverages. Studies have shown that
soft drink consumption in the U.S. has increased markedly over the
last two decades, not only among teenage boys from 15-17 years of
age, but among 1-2 year old children. Statistics show that in Canada
soft drink consumption increased by 37 percent from 1972 to 1981.23
The increase in soft drink consumption
coincided with a decrease in the consumption of milk, thereby
increasing the overall fluoride intake. A number of studies reveal
that the dramatic increase in beverage consumption, coupled with
fluoridation of municipal waters constitutes a potential health
haz-ard.24 Prolonged exposure to fluorides may actually increase
rather than diminish the incidence of tooth decay. Enzymatic damage
related to enamel mineralization creates a parotic tooth far more
susceptible to caries than would otherwise be the case.25
In a major study of adverse effects of fluoride, Yiamouyiannis and
Burk reported in 1977 that at least 10,000 people in the U.S. die
every year of fluoride-induced cancer. In the introduction to their
work 17 research papers are cited which demonstrate the mutagenic
effects associated with fluorides.26 There is now side consensus
within the scientific community that the mutagenic activity of a
substance can be regarded as an important indication of its
potential cancer-causing activity.
Since those provocative studies over a decade ago, a vast scientific
literature has continued to accumulate which strongly indicates that
the practice of fluoridating municipal water supplies is dangerous.
In 1983 an Australian dental surgeon, G. Smith, reported a number of
studies which suggest that there is now a serious risk to the public
of fluoride overdose. He argues that "the crucial argument does not
concern the fluoride lev-el in a community water supply per se, but
rather whether fluoridation increases the risk that certain people
develop, even for a short time, levels of fluoride in the blood that
can damage human cells and systems."27
In 1985 another Australian scientist, M. Diesendorf, drew attention
to the discovery of a whole new dimension to the health hazards
associated with the ingestion of fluorides. Sodium fluoride, for
example, had been found to cause unscheduled DNA synthesis and
chromosonal aberrations in certain human cells.28 Other recent
studies purport to reveal the actual mechanism by virtue of which
fluoride can disrupt the DNA molecule and the active sites of the
molecules of many human enzymes.29
When all is said, it is manifestly clear that the time has come for
a serious and comprehensive review of the policy which mandates the
compulsory fluoridation of our municipal water supplies. Such a
review will no doubt require a multi-faceted approach in which
reliable research investigations can be integrated with a philosophy
of health education to assist their implementation.
Through education it may be possible to
appreciate that within nature itself are important patterns of
design for an overall program of health. In nature, for instance,
fluorides are typically found in decidedly insoluble forms which are
relatively safe. By deliberately intervening to make nature's
insoluble forms of fluoride soluble we transform a relatively
harmless natural substance into a concentrated and highly toxic
substance which can then be indiscriminately dispersed throughout
the environment as a poison.
The subtle constellation of health clues
which nature provides in respect of fluorides is further illustrated
by the simple but elegant mechanisms of breastfeeding. Breastfed
infants are actually protected from receiving more than extremely
low concentrations of fluoride in breast milk by an inbuilt
physiological plasma/milk barrier against fluoride.30 There is much
about health to learn from nature, but to do so we must be more
concerned to join with nature in partnership than to stand back from
nature to subdue and manipulate it.
Whether the fluoridation campaign must be indicted in the light of
the evidence as one of the major public hoaxes perpetrated this
century, is a judgment best reserved for the reader. Whatever the
judgment, it is incontestable that the prevention of tooth decay is
not the bottom-line of the fluoridation debate when the panacea has
become the poison.
For more information on artificial fluoridation, we recommend to
The Australian Fluoridation News, GPO Box 935G, Melbourne,
Vic, 3001. This is a bi-monthly publication, which costs $15 per
N.I. Sax, Dangerous Properties
of Industrial Materials, 2nd ed. (New York: Reinhold
Publishing Corp., 1963), p. 1187.
L. Hodges, Environmental
Pollution, 2nd ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
1977), p. 64.
Fluoridation—Poison on Tap (Melbourne: Glen Walker
Publisher, 1982), p. 40.
H.T. Dean, "Studies on the
Minimal Threshold of the Dental Sign of Chronic Endemic
Fluorosis," Public Health Rep, 50:1719-1729, 1934.
Walker, op. eit. p. 115.
D. Stevenson, "Fluoridation,
Panacea or Poison?," Simply Living Magazine, Vol. 3, #6
(1988), p. 102.
G. Caldwell and RE. Zanfagna,
Fluoridation and Truth Decay (Cali-fornia: Top-Ecol Press,
1974), p. 7.
W. Varney, Fluoride in Australia
(Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1986), p. 14.
Walker, op. cit. p. 159.
Caldwell and Zanfagna, op. cit.
B. Burt, Chem & Eng News (22
October 1979), p. 6.
G.L. Waldbott, Fluoridation: the
Great Dilemma (Kansas: Coronado Press Inc., 1978).
D. Sherrell, Chem & Eng News (7
January 1980), p. 4.
J.R. Lee, Chem & Eng News (28
January 1980), pp. 4-5.
Walker, op. cit. p. 156.
Varney, op. cit.
Stevenson, op. cit. p. 103.
Ibid. p. 104.
Committee on Food Protection,
Food and Nutritional Board National Research Council,
Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods (Wash-ington, DC:
National Academy of Science, 1973), pp. 12-14.
Walker, op. cit. p. 308.
J. Clovis and J.A. Hargreaves,
"Fluoride Intake from Beverage Consumption," Community Dent
Oral Epidemiol, 16:14, 1988.
J. Mann, M. Tibi, and H.D. Sgan-Cohen,
"Fluorosis and Caries Prevalence in a Community Drinking
Above-Optional Fluoridated Water," Community Dent Oral
Epidemiol, 15:293-294, 1987.
Ibid. p. 295.
J. Yiamoyiannis and D. Burk,
"Fluoridation and Cancer. Age-Dependence of Cancer Mortality
Related to Artificial Fluoridation," Fluoride, 10:102-123,
G. Smith, "Fluoridation—Are the
Dangers Resolved?," New Scientist (5 May 1983), p. 286.
M. Diesendorf, "Fluoride: New
Risk?," Search, 16, nos. 5-6:129, 1985.
Smith, op. cit. p. 287
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