In 1989 Sherrell wrote to the NAS and asked on what they based their 20 to 80 mg/day figures. Two years passed before the Academy told her that they had identified Hodge’s interpretation of Roholm as the data source.
Four years later the error was finally corrected by the National Research Council’s Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology in their 1993 publication, Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride where they changed the figure from 20-80mg/day to 10-20mg/day (61).
As it happens, Hodge had written a chapter in a book released in 1979 entitled Continuing Evaluation of the Use of Fluorides. In it Hodge had corrected his previously published figures. But nobody seemed to notice. In 1991, when the US Department of Health and Human Services published their Review of Fluoride: Benefits and Risks, they continued to use figures of 20-80 mg/day as the ‘crippling daily dose of fluoride’. As, indeed does the current RDA and Dietary Reference Intakes published by the Institute of Medicine in 1997.
Myths are Very Hard to Dislodge
We can get a good idea of how much fluoride is safe by working with Roholm’s figures. You will remember that after the figures had been corrected, the amount needed to cause crippling fluorosis in a 100 to 229 lb person was reckoned to be 10 to 20 mg per day for 10 to 20 years. Since fluorides accumulate in a linear fashion, the crippling dosage of 10 mg per day for 10 years is the same as 5 mg per day for 20 years, and so on. If we extrapolate this to a normal lifetime with fluoridated water this is the same as 2.5 to 5 mg per day for 40 to 80 years. But we should note that, for persons with kidney disease, the risk is greater because less fluoride will be eliminated by their malfunctioning kidneys.
It is also important to note that these figures are for crippling fluorosis, the last stage. It will take only four years at 10 mg/day, or sixteen years at 2.5 mg per day before a 100 pound individual can expect to experience phase 2, musculo-skeletal fluorosis, with chronic joint pain and arthritic symptoms – with or without osteoporosis. That is the amount of fluoride found in just 2 1� litres of water. And that’s without counting the extra that today is inevitably found in foods, toothpaste, et cetera
From this it is clear that the only safe limit for fluoride is NONE
Even supposing that low concentrations are safe, there is no way to control how much fluoride different people consume, as some take in a lot more than others. For example, laborers, athletes, diabetics, and those living in hot or dry regions can all be expected to drink more water, and therefore more fluoride (in fluoridated areas) than others.(62) Due to such wide variations in water consumption, it is impossible to scientifically control what dosage of fluoride a person receives via the water supply.(63)
In “50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation,”(64)64 Paul Connett, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University (NY) states that the supposedly safe fluoride levels in our water may pose a particular danger for any of the millions of people who suffer from thyroid disorders. He explains:
Earlier in the 20th century, fluoride was prescribed by a number of European doctors to reduce the activity of the thyroid gland for those suffering from hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid) (Merck Index, 1960, p. 952; Waldbott, et al., 1978, p. 163). With water fluoridation, we are forcing people to drink a thyroid-depressing medication which could serve to promote higher levels of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) in the population, and all the subsequent problems related to this disorder. Such problems include depression, fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pains, increased cholesterol levels, and heart disease.
It bears noting that according to the Department of Health and Human Services (1991) fluoride exposure in fluoridated communities is estimated to range from 1.58 to 6.6 mg/day, which is a range that actually overlaps the dose (2.3 – 4.5 mg/day) shown to decrease the functioning of the human thyroid.(65)65 This is a remarkable fact, and certainly deserves greater attention considering the rampant and increasing problem of hypothyroidism in the United States. (In 1999, the second most prescribed drug of the year was Synthroid, which is a hormone replacement drug used to treat an underactive thyroid.” More than twenty million people in the U.S. receive treatment for thyroid problems and many others are thought to go undiagnosed. (66)
And by the way, 90% of the fluoride added to our drinking water is no longer the sodium fluoride at all. Today’s fluoride is industrial waste that is complexed with silica or sodium. “Fluoride complexed with silica or sodium is readily ionized to free fluoride ions that are quickly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, whereas, when chemically bound to calcium, less of it ionizes and less is absorbed. Calcium inhibits fluoride absorption and is, in fact, the treatment of choice for fluoride ingestion overdoses.”(67)
Another concern is that fluoride is not found only in drinking water; it is everywhere. Fluoride is found in foods that are processed with it, which, in the United States, include nearly all bottled drinks and canned foods.(68)68 Researchers writing in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry have found that fruit juices, in particular, contain significant amounts of fluoride. In a recent study, a variety of popular juices and juice blends were analyzed and it was discovered that 42% of the samples examined had more than l ppm of fluoride, with some brands of grape juice containing much higher levels – up to 6.8 ppm! The authors cite the common practice of using fluoride-containing insecticide in growing grapes as a factor in these high levels, and they suggest that the fluoride content of beverages be printed on their labels, as is other nutritional information.(69) Considering how much juice some children ingest, and the fact that youngsters often insist on particular brands that they consume day after day, labeling seems like a prudent idea.
Clean water activist Jeff Green points out that fluoride is “in Wheaties at 10 ppm, 10 times the amount that you find in water. It’s in Post Grape Nuts and Shredded Wheat and Fruit Loops. These are items that people are eating all the time without realizing that it has fluoride in it. Because it’s a pesticide residue that’s allowed to be on produce now it’s taken a big jump and the EPA has allowed it to be at really high levels, 180 ppm on a head of lettuce, 55 ppm on raisins. I mean no child is going to wash all that off.”(70)
Prepared baby foods are a problem, too. A 1997 article in the Journal of the American Dental Association(71) warns that some baby foods contain such high levels of fluoride that babies who eat the food risk dental fluorosis. “Any infants who regularly eat more than a couple of ounces of infant foods containing high-fluoride-content chicken would be at elevated fluorosis risk,” the authors conclude.(72) Infants who eat large quantities of dry infant cereals reconstituted with fluoridated water could ingest substantial quantities of fluoride from this source, this study shows. “Children should also be monitored to make sure that they do not ingest too much fluoride from other sources such as fluoride dentifrice, dietary fluoride supplements or fluoridated water….”(73)
Fluoride exposure during infancy can be expect to increase risk of fluoride-related illness, since a recent study shows that the first year of life is the most critical period for fluoride exposure. Children exposed during the first year of life, and to a lesser extent in the second year, are far more likely to develop fluorosis than those whose exposure begins later. The early mineralizing teeth-the central incisors and first molars-are most likely to be affected.(74)
This is confirmed by a recent study of fluorosis risk. “There is substantial evidence that fluoridated water, fluoride supplements, infant formulas, and fluoride toothpastes are risk factors for fluorosis,” alone and together, reports Ohio State University researcher Dr. Ana Karina Mascarenhas.(75)
A recent study of fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities in Brazil proved that fluoride toothpaste contributes to fluorosis. In the study, children who started using fluoride before the age of three were 4.43 times more likely to have dental fluorosis than those who started using it after the age of three.(76)
Dr. Connett observes that “the level of fluoride put into water (1 ppm) is 100 times higher than normally found in mothers’ milk (0.01 ppm) (77) There are no benefits, only risks, for infants ingesting this heightened level of fluoride at such an early age (this is an age where susceptibility to environmental toxins is particularly high). ”
Fluorosis get worse as a child approaches puberty, according to study done in Norway. The study showed a significant increase in the severity of fluorosis with increasing age in a high fluoride community, whereas no change in severity with age was observed in a low fluoride community. Fluorosis resulting from high fluoride content of drinking water increases between the ages of ten and fourteen.(78)
But beyond this is the larger issue that this study brings up: Is it wise to subject children and others who are heavy juice drinkers to additional fluoride in their water?
Here’s a little-publicized reality: Cooking can greatly increase a food’s fluoride content. Peas, for example, contain 12 micrograms of fluoride when raw and 1500 micrograms after they are cooked in fluoridated water, which is a tremendous difference. Also, we should keep in mind that fluoride is an ingredient in pharmaceuticals, aerosols, insecticides, and pesticides.
And of course, toothpastes. It’s interesting to note that in the 1950s, fluoridated toothpastes were required to carry warnings on their labels saying that they were not to be used in areas where water was already fluoridated. Crest toothpaste went so far as to write: “Caution: Children under 6 should not use Crest.” These regulations were dropped in 1958, although no new research was available to prove that the overdose hazard no longer existed.Today, common fluoride levels in toothpaste are 1000 ppm. Research chemist Woodfun Ligon notes that swallowing a small amount adds substantially to fluoride intake. Dentists say that children commonly ingest up to 0.5 mg of fluoride a day from toothpaste.(79)
Dr. Hardy Limeback cites studies conducted by the toothpaste manufacturers showing that children under the age of six typically swallow as much as 60 percent of the toothpaste that goes into their mouths. “The warning labels, in my personal opinion, are there to get them off the hook in the next ten years. People who have been exposed to too much fluoride ingestion before the tubes were labeled have a case against the toothpaste companies. They weren’t told that a lifetime of fluoride ingestion may be harmful.”(80)
This inevitably raises another issue: How safe is all this fluoride? According to scientists and informed doctors, such as Dr. John Lee, it is not safe at all. Dr. Lee first took an anti-fluoridation stance back in 1972, when as chairman of an environmental health committee for a local medical society, he was asked to state their position on the subject. He 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 cavities, was not established by any of these studies. Two, we found that the investigations into the toxic side effects of fluoride have not been done in any way that was acceptable. And three, we discovered that the estimate of the amount of fluoride in the food chain, in the total daily fluoride intake, had been measured in 1943, and not since then. By adding the amount of fluoride that we now have in the food chain, which comes from food processing with fluoridated water, plus all the fluoridated toothpaste that was not present in 1943, we found that the daily intake of fluoride was far in excess of what was considered optimal.”(81)
What happens when fluoride intake exceeds the optimal? The inescapable fact is that this substance has been associated with severe health problems, ranging from skeletal and dental fluorosis to bone fractures, to fluoride poisoning, and even to cancer.