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10 Facts About Fluoride

Fact #1:  In 2010, the EPA placed fluoride on its list of developmental neurotoxins with substantial evidence for the ability to harm a child’s developing brain.

Fluoride now sits alongside mercury, lead, and PCBs as a chemical known to be toxic to the developing brain. 

Currently in the U.S. we have an epidemic of neurodevelopmental brain diseases, which include ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and learning disabilities. One in six children are affected. 


Developmental neurotoxins, or environmental chemicals that injure the developing brain, are among the known causes for this epidemic. Brain development begins in utero and continues through the teenage years.  It is a complex process that requires the precise coordination of cell growth and movement, and it can be disrupted by even short-term exposures to environmental chemicals if they occur at critical stages of this development.  This disruption can lead to deficits that manifest as diseases such as ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorders. Or it may lead to more subtle deficits that affect the child’s achievements and behavior without a definite diagnosable disorder. 


We now know that what is best for the brain health of children is to minimize exposure to these chemicals.  Fluoride is the one developmental neurotoxin to which our children are knowingly and intentionally exposed every day. (1)


Fact #2: Fluoride is a drug put in our public water in an attempt to treat the disease of dental decay.  There is no precedent for putting a drug in our public water systems.

Fluoride is not analogous to the Folic Acid or Vitamin D we put in our breads and cereals because fluoride is not a nutrient. It is a prescription drug, regulated by the FDA. An accurate analogy would be if we were to put a drug such as Qnexa or Lorcaserin in our water in an attempt to prevent and treat the common disease of obesity. Not everyone needs it, and it has toxic side effects, but it might slightly decrease the Body Mass Index of some of the people who drink it. (2, 3)


Fact #3: Most Developed Countries Do Not Fluoridate Their Water

It is often claimed that fluoridated water is the main reason the United States has had a large decline in tooth decay over the past 60 years. This same decline in tooth decay, however, has occurred in all developed countries, most of which have never added any fluoride to their water.


Today, according to data from the World Health Organization, there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between the minority of developed countries that fluoridate water, and the majority that do not...


In fact, more people drink artificially fluoridated water in the U.S. alone than in the rest of the world combined. Most advanced nations do not fluoridate their water.  In Western Europe, 97% of the population has water without a single drop of fluoride added to it. Fluoridation proponents will sometimes say this is because Europe adds fluoride to its salt.  Only five nations in Western Europe, however, have any fluoridated salt. The vast majority do not. (4)


Fact #4: In a March 2014 article in The Lancet, Harvard scientists placed fluoride on their list of 11 chemicals with significant epidemiological evidence for developmental neurotoxicity. 

Phillippe Grandjean, M.D. (Harvard scientist and author of Only One Chance: How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development) and colleague Philip Landrigan, M.D. placed Fluoride next to mercury, lead, arsenic, flame retardants and six other chemicals known to be toxic to the developing brain. They concluded the article by proposing a global prevention strategy “to control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity”. (5, 6)


Fact #5: In 2006, the National Research Council Report labeled fluoride an endocrine disruptor that negatively affects normal thyroid function.

In the 1950’s fluoride was used as a medication to suppress an overactive thyroid gland. From the 2006 National Research Council Report we know that because of extensive water fluoridation, some adults regularly consume amounts of fluoride known to suppress thyroid hormone function. 


Currently in the U.S. we have an epidemic of thyroid disease, with one in eight women developing thyroid disease in her lifetime. Synthroid, the drug used to treat an underactive thyroid gland, is the most commonly prescribed drug in our country. 


While many environmental toxins have the potential to affect thyroid gland function, a study from the British Medical Journal in 2015 showed that patients in fluoridated communities are more as likely to have hypothyroidism, supporting the link between drinking fluoride and thyroid dysfunction. (7, 8)


Fact #6: Frequently hailed as a policy of health equity that disproportionately benefits minority populations with no access to dental care, we now know that water fluoridation actually disproportionately harms populations of color, including African Americans and Hispanics. 

This is evidenced by the fact that African Americans and Hispanics have a much higher rate of dental fluorosis than do Caucasians (58% as compared to 36%).  These populations are more regularly exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride, thus increasing their likelihood of not only dental fluorosis, but also the deleterious health effects of neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption. This has led The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and many African American leaders to come out against water fluoridation. (9, 10)



Fact #7: The majority of the fluoride in our tap water is hexafluorosilicic acid (HFSA), a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.

This HFSA is captured by wet scrubbers, put in industry smokestacks to reduce air pollutants such as fluorine, nitrous oxide, and sulfur dioxide. Fluorine is considered an air pollutant because it is damaging to surrounding agricultural crops and animals.  Because HFSA is from industrial waste, it is often contaminated with arsenic, lead, cadmium, and radionuclides. (11)


Fact #8: Fluoridation Is Not a “Natural” Process.

Fluoridation advocates often say that “nature thought of fluoridation first.” By this, they mean that fluoride occurs at naturally high levels in some water supplies. Lots of toxic substances, however, like arsenic, and even some medicines, like lithium, occur at naturally high levels. This doesn’t mean they’re safe.


Further, the level of fluoride added in artificial fluoridation programs is far higher than the level of fluoride that occurs in the vast majority of (unpolluted) fresh surface waters. The main fluoride chemical (fluorosilicic acid) that is added to water is not what most people would call a naturally occurring compound. It is a corrosive acid captured in the air pollution control devices of the phosphate fertilizer industry. (12)


Fact #9: 66% of Americans drink fluoride daily via their tap water. All Americans drink fluoride in processed beverages made with fluoridated tap water, such as beers, juices, coffee, and soups.

Children today ingest much more fluoride than did children of the previous generations.  This is due to the increased consumption of processed foods and beverages — both commonly made with fluoridated tap water — fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwashes, and the continued expansion of the country’s water fluoridation program.  Most developed countries do not fluoridate their water.  In Western Europe alone 97% of countries do not fluoridate.


Fact #10: The CDC and the ADA both state that water fluoridation decreases the number of cavities in a person by 25%, at best.

That is one-half to one cavity per person.


Is this small benefit worth risking the health of our brain and our thyroid gland? (13, 14)



(1) “Building a Database of Developmental Neurotoxicants: Evidence from Human and Animal Studies.” EPA Chart. W. Mundy, et al. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. PDF. Both documents were approved by the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), a division of EPA.


(2) "Sodium Fluoride Drops."


(3) "Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for Fluoride." European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Released August 8 and published in EFSA Journal 2013;11(8):3332.

(4) "Tooth Decay Trends In Fluoridated Vs. Unfluoridated Countries." Michael Connett. Fluoride Action Network (July 2012).


(5) "Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity". Grandjean & Landrigan (2014) The Lancet Neurology, 13(3) 330 – 338, March 2014.


(6) "Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children". Marge Dwyer (July, 2012). Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


(7) “Water Fluoridation and Hypothyroidism: Results of This Study Need Much More Cautious Interpretation.” Newton, John N et al. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 69.7 (2015): 617–618. PMC. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.


(8) "Fluoride in Drinking Water A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards." National Research Council, p. 224 -267. The National Academies Press (2006).


(9) "Civil Rights Violation Regarding Forced Medication." Margaret Moran, LULAC National President. LULAC. (July 1, 2011). 


(10) NHANES data, summarized in correspondence from Nadine Gracia, Office of the Asst. Secretary for Health, HHS, to Dora Hughes, HHS, April 27, 2011. p. 65-66.


(11) “A New Perspective on Metals and Other Contaminants in Fluoridation Chemicals.” Mullenix, Phyllis J. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental health 20.2 (2014): 157–166. PMC. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.


(12) "The Phosphate Fertilizer Industry: An Environmental Overview." Michael Connett. Fluoride Action Network (May 2003).


(13) "Fluoridation Basics." Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. (July 28, 2015).


(14) "Fluoridation Basics." American Dental Association (2005). p.13.

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