Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - by Daniel G. Stockin, MPH
When a wise and dear friend of mine hears an idea that makes real sense, one of her favorite comments is, “Well, honey, that’s just plain ol’ turnip greens and cornbread common sense!” Unfortunately we’re finding out now that adding fluoride to drinking water to prevent cavities simply doesn’t make sense any longer – and in fact, stopping it entirely, in every water district in Tennessee, now seems the only sensible thing to do.
Consider the following astounding developments concerning fluoridation. Earlier this year, the National Research Council issued a report about fluoride in drinking water. Buried in the mammoth size document is a statement that is just now filtering out to the public: that infants and children in our country are receiving a dose of fluoride that is three to four times that being received by adults, on a body weight basis. This is a deeply troubling admission, because tissues in babies’ bodies are growing so rapidly that infants are dramatically more susceptible to harmful chemicals than adults.
The American Dental Association recently cited concerns for children’s fluoride exposure in a new and quietly issued statement that should give every mother, babysitter, and grandmother pause. ADA now recommends that infant milk formula not be mixed with fluoridated city water! This is a huge development. ADA says that it wants to help prevent a “cosmetic” marking of children’s teeth called dental fluorosis. But what does not make sense here, and in fact could be considered very disingenuous, is that the whole story about dental fluorosis is not being told by ADA.
First of all, most Americans have no idea what dental fluorosis is. They don’t know that it manifests as white, yellow, or brown streaks or stains, and in some cases, as pits, on teeth of children who are exposed to too much fluoride while their permanent teeth are being formed. They don’t know that this is an outer biomarker of an inner poisoning that has happened, akin to the bluish line appearing on the gums of lead-poisoned people. We’re not being told that fluorosis affects 32% of all school kids and is NOT merely a “cosmetic defect.” The moderate and severe forms of the condition now affect around two percent of whites and three to four percent of blacks and Mexican Americans, according to quietly-published statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. In fact, the National Research Council’s report called severe dental fluorosis an adverse health effect. If you’ve never seen the disturbing photos of fluorosis, visit http://www.fluoridealert.org/dental-fluorosis.htm . Brace yourself. Moderate and severe fluorosis is not pretty.
Water districts are now placed in a difficult position. If the districts continue fluoridation, as ADA recommends, what do they say to poorer families with babies who are drinking formula? Who will pay for single moms on minimum wage to buy bottled water or expensive home filtration systems (since carbon filters don’t remove fluoride)? Who will make sure that every single mom or childcare worker knows to not use fluoridated water? Does it make common sense to keep fluoridating, when dental industry journals admit teeth sealants are dramatically more effective than fluoride in preventing kids’ cavities, and when babies and minorities are disproportionately harmed -- most without even being told what is causing the stains and pits on their teeth?
I am definitely not against dentists. I’m grateful we live here in America and have dentists. But most dentists haven’t heard the whole story about fluoridation, and certainly neither has the general public. Since it’s now come out that more than 90% of the fluoride water districts use is a captured air pollution discharge taken from fertilizer industry smokestack “scrubbing” devices, it is only a matter of time until enough of the public hears this information and learns the facts about fluoride. Most of the public doesn’t know that eleven unions nationally in EPA, representing 7,000 scientists, lab workers, and others have contravened official EPA policy and called for an immediate halt to fluoridation.
Water districts must stop fluoridating. Our state health department must change its position supporting fluoridation. Call or email your water district to say, “Turn off the fluoride!” Is it common sense to believe that teeth are the only tissues in children’s bodies harmed by fluoridation? Is collateral damage to infants and minorities an acceptable price for fluoridation?
Daniel Stockin is an 18-year career public health professional with a background in hazardous materials management and toxics assessment. He was formerly manager of the EPA’s Western Regional Lead Training Center. He may be reached at: email@example.com .
© 2006 Daniel G. Stockin