Trained as a chemist, specializing in environmental chemistry, Dr. Paul Connett is known throughout the world as a leader in the movement against water fluoridation because of his knowledge base.
He is truly dedicated to the cause of ending water fluoridation, and heads up an organization called the Fluoride Action Network or www.fluoridealert.org that contains a wealth of information.
In addition, his book, The Case Against Fluoride, is scheduled for release in late September, but is available for pre-order.
In this timely and important book, Connett and his two co-authors, Beck and Micklem, take a new look at the science behind water fluoridation and argue that just because the medical establishment endorses a public health measure, that doesn't mean it's safe.
In the case of water fluoridation, the chemicals used to fluoridate the water that more than 180 million people drink each day are not pharmaceutical grade, but rather hazardous waste products of the phosphate fertilizer industry; it is illegal to dump these into rivers and lakes or release the parent gases into the atmosphere.
In addition, water fluoridation is a prime example of one of the worst medical practices possible—forced medication with no control over the dose or who gets it. Perhaps most shocking of all, it is not subject to any federal regulation.
At once painstakingly-documented and also highly-readable, The Case Against Fluoride brings new research to light, including links between fluoride and harm to your brain, bones, and kidneys, and shows that while there is possible value in topical applications like brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, the evidence that swallowing fluoride reduces tooth decay is surprisingly weak.
In this interview, Dr. Connett shares important information about fluoride and water fluoridation that you may have not been aware of before, and offers practical advice for what you can do to help get fluoride removed from the water supply of the United States and in other fluoridating countries.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Amazingly, the United States is only one of eight countries in the entire developed world that fluoridates more than 50 percent of its water supply. (The other seven are: Australia, Colombia, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.)
In Europe, Ireland is the only country that fluoridates more than 50 percent of its drinking water, and England fluoridates 10 percent.
Most of mainland Europe is not fluoridated, and yet, according to World Health Organization data, their teeth are just as good, if not better than Americans'.
One of the central challenges in this debate is that the United States claim to have one of the most advanced scientific countries in the world, yet we're still engaging in a practice that is questionable at best, and extremely harmful at worst.
This interview is part of an ongoing effort to help provide you with the tools to take action in three primary areas, and help you understand that indeed you CAN make a real difference in this area .
Canada also fluoridates about 40 percent of its drinking water, and there, the efforts to eliminate fluoride seem quite optimistic. The fluoridation there is concentrated in Alberta and Ontario, so if Ontario stops water fluoridation, the entire country of Canada could conceivably get rid of it in short order.
In the US, the current focus is on two specific communities: San Diego, California, and Austin, Texas. These areas already have leadership backing this cause, along with favorable media support.
There may be other communities that we're not aware of, and if you're interested in starting a movement in your local community, please let us know you're interested by adding your remarks in the Vital Votes section below.
If you're not already registered, you can do so here. It only takes a moment. We can then help you to get the process rolling.
Is Water Fluoridation Really in the Best Interest of Public Health?
As you may know, the theory behind the introduction of fluoride in your water supply initially seems beneficial – to reduce the incidence of dental caries in children.
However, the health dangers of fluoride are so numerous; they far outweigh any potential benefit to your teeth.
"First of all, water fluoridation is very bad medicine," Dr. Connett says, "because once you put it in the water, you can't control the dose. You can't control who gets it. There is no oversight. You're allowing a community to do to everyone what a doctor can do to no one, i.e. force a patient to take a particular medication."
Secondly, it's both unnecessary and avoidable. Today, even promoters of fluoridation concede that the major benefits are topical; fluoride works from the outside of the tooth, not from inside of your body, so why swallow it? Why put it in the drinking water when you could just brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste if you choose – in addition to drinking it!
Please note that I do NOT believe you should use fluoride in your toothpaste but I am just emphasizing the point that it might work topically but does not work at all when you swallow it. There are far better options for decreasing tooth decay than using a topical poison. Third, water fluoridation is ineffective.
There is practically no difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries, and no difference between states that have a high- or low percentage of their water fluoridated.
Meanwhile, fluoride can cause significant harm.
"We know that 32 percent of American children have been overexposed to fluoride," Connett says, "because you have this telltale sign of dental fluorosis, which in its mildest form is little white specs. But when it gets more serious, it affects more of the surface of your teeth and it becomes colored; yellow, brown and orange mottling of the teeth." Promoters of fluoridation scoff at these signs, saying that they're "just cosmetic." But, since we already know that water fluoridation does NOT effectively reduce dental caries, this is an unnecessary cosmetic defect, and, worse yet, it is a worrisome indication that your body has been overexposed to fluoride. If it's having a detrimental, visual effect on the surface of your teeth, you can be virtually guaranteed that it's also damaging something else inside your body, such as your bones. "The teeth are the window to the bones," Connett says. "If you've seen the damage to the teeth, what damage can you not see?"
Bone is in fact living tissue that is constantly being replaced through cellular turnover. Bone building is a finely balanced, complicated process.
Fluoride has been known to disrupt this process ever since the 1930s. We have huge concerns about the potential of fluoride to damage the bone and cause symptoms like arthritis and making them more brittle and more prone to fracture.
Water Fluoridation is an Assault on Your Freedom of Choice!
"We now have 23 studies from four different countries; Mexico, Iran, India and China, which indicate that moderate exposure to fluoride is lowering IQ in children," Connett says.
"The lowest level at which they estimate this is happening is 1.9 parts per million of fluoride.
If you've got an effect at 1.9 parts per million with a few hundred children in the study, then there is not enough margin of safety to protect every child that's being exposed to fluoride."
You need a much larger margin of safety to protect children living in fluoridated communities.
Meanwhile, the US has not yet studied the impact of fluoride on IQ.
"The countries which are fluoridated are doing practically no health studies," Connett points out. "They are far more concerned about protecting this policy for some reason than protecting health."
In 2003, the National Research Council appointed one of the most balanced and objective panels of experts that have ever objectively investigated fluoride. They spent about three years studying it and determined that the current "safe" drinking water standard of 4 ppm (parts per million) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fluoride is too high and it should be lowered.
But in the four years since, the EPA has not completed a new health risk assessment and thus we still live with this outdated and unsafe standard, even though the NRC study was specifically requested by the EPA.
When evaluating the issue of water fluoridation it is also important to understand that fluoride is a drug. You can't get fluoride without a prescription! Yet it's being added to your water supply on a mandatory basis at various levels that may or may not be safe for various individuals, especially children, the sick, and the elderly.
Water fluoridation is a major assault on your freedom of choice – to be drugged or not.
Sodium fluoride, which is a far simpler toxin than the fluoride compounds used for most water fluoridation, has also been used for rat and cockroach poisons, so there is no question that it is highly toxic.
Have a Glass of Water, then Call Poison Control!?
"The sad irony here is that the FDA, which does not regulate fluoride in drinking water, does regulate toothpaste," Connett says, "and on the back of a tube of fluoridated toothpaste… it must state that "if your child swallows more than the recommended amount, contact a poison control center."
The amount that they're talking about, the recommended amount, which is a pea-sized amount, is equivalent to one glass of water.
The FDA is not putting a label on the tap saying don't drink more than one glass of water. If you do, contact a poison center. So you got this tweedledum and tweedledee…
There is no question that fluoride -- not an excessive amount -- can cause serious harm. There have been examples of children who swallowed the gel that is used for topical treatment and they died as a consequence. So fluoride is extremely toxic."
According to Dr. Connett, you also increase your child's risk for dental fluorosis if he brushes his teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day compared to just once. "We're not talking about killing people outright with drinking water," Connett says. "What we're concerned about is the chronic exposure… It's poisonous."
Fluoride Breaks Down Your Bones and Damage Your Thyroid
Approximately fifty percent of the fluoride that you ingest each day ends up accumulating in your bones over a lifetime. So you're steadily increasing the fluoride levels in your bones over time.
Dr. Connett recounts the evidence gleaned from India and China, where some areas have high natural fluoride levels. There, the initial symptoms of fluoride poisoning are arthritis-like symptoms such as joint pains.
Despite these findings, no study has ever been conducted in the US to investigate whether there's an association between people living in fluoridated areas and increasing arthritis rates.
Fluoride also lowers thyroid function. It was used in medicine during the 1930s through 1950s in Europe to treat patients with overactive thyroid glands. This is a very real and significant concern, especially today as millions of people suffer with low thyroid function.
Women seem to be particularly sensitive to this. I've seen tens of thousands of patients, and low thyroid function is a very common problem. If you exhibit symptoms of low thyroid function you'll want to get a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test. If it's above 1.5 then you probably need to address your thyroid, at which point it becomes mandatory to avoid fluoride from all sources.
Common symptoms of decreased thyroid function include:
Your drinking water and fluoridated toothpaste are the two most obvious sources, but you may also be exposed to fluoride from certain drugs, if they are metabolized to free fluoride in the body. This may occur with some antidepressants and some antibiotics, especially the fluoroquinolones.
Another source is pesticides, so it also becomes more important to eat organic.
Where Does the Fluoride Come From?
It's important to make a distinction between the natural fluorides found in the environment versus the toxic chemicals used for fluoridating your water. Ninety percent of the chemicals used in fluoridation in the United States do not occur naturally.
"It's a substance called hexafluorosilicic acid or its sodium salt: silicon fluorides," Connett explains.
"These silicon fluorides are captured pollutants from the phosphate fertilizer industry. When you're making phosphate fertilizers… the process generates two very toxic gasses; hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride.
For about a hundred years, these decimated the local area -- the vegetation; crippled cattle and so on. Eventually, they were required to capture these toxic gasses, using a spray of water. That spray of water produces silicon fluorides.
That scrubbing liquor cannot be dumped into the sea by international law. It can't be dumped locally because it's too concentrated. But if someone buys it, it's no longer a hazardous waste, it's a product.
… Who buys it?
The public water utilities buy this stuff and put it in our drinking water. It's absolutely absurd."
Dr. William Hirzy from the EPA has pointed out that if it goes into the air, it's a pollutant. If it goes into the local water, it's pollution. But if the public water utilities buy it and pour it in our drinking water, it's no longer a pollutant. All of a sudden like magic it's a beneficial public health measure.
"So not only are we doing something quite unique, using the public water supply to deliver medicine... we're using the public water supply to get rid of hazardous waste from the phosphate industry," Connett says. It makes a lot of money for them [this way, because otherwise it would cost] a lot of money to get rid of it as hazardous waste."
Making matters worse, if that's even possible, is that in recent times the US has started purchasing these industrial fluoride products from China, as phosphate-producing industry in Florida has been reduced. However, some communities in the US have stopped using China-made fluoride because it was producing a white sludge that jammed up the delivery system.
"The Center for Disease Control engineer said, "We don't know what this sludge is but we know it's safe," Connett says. "But if you don't know what it is, how can you say it's safe?"
Since I've taken a personal interest in this, my team will try to obtain some of this fluoride from China and have it analyzed by a third-party, independent laboratory to see what's really in it… Once I have those results, I will share them with you in this newsletter.
The REAL Cause of Tooth Decay
As far as tooth decay is concerned, this is not caused by lack of fluoride. Tooth decay is caused by acids in your mouth, typically created from sugar being metabolized by bacteria (Streptococcus mutans), and as you may already know, the number one source of calories in the United States is high fructose corn syrup. The acid produced then attacks your enamel. Eventually the bacteria can get into the dentine, at which point tooth decay sets in. You typically don't find dental caries in more primitive societies that do not consume these vast amounts of sugar. "We need education, not fluoridation," Connett agrees. "That education would have a double dividend. By avoiding high fructose sugar, we'll not only score a huge benefit with dental decay but also with obesity and health."
A Special Note about Using Tap Water when Making Infant Formula
Most of the people who are educated about fluoride will avoid drinking municipal tap water that is fluoridated, and will use a reverse osmosis system in your home to rid your water of fluoride.
However, there are many who simply don't have the resources or the know-how to protect themselves and their young children.
In November of 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA) sent out an email to alert its members of their recommendation to parents to not use fluoridated tap water to make infant formula. A few days later, the CDC followed suit. But neither of them openly informed the public!
So there are millions of parents out there using tap water to make up formula, oblivious of the fact that the agencies that promote fluoridation in this country have issued a specific warning against using fluoridated water for this purpose.
Not only that, but by fluoridating the municipal water supply, you doom many low income families to fail to protect their young children from this dangerous drug, even if they have this information.
Help End Water Fluoridation in Canada and the United States
The Fluoride Action Network is an absolutely phenomenal resource for further education, and they're doing much to pressure the US government for change. Their statement calling for an end to fluoridation worldwide now been signed by over 2,800 professionals. We encourage all medical and science professionals to sign this statement. In addition, I highly recommend getting a copy of Dr. Connett's new book, The Case Against Fluoride. It is scheduled for release in late September, but is available for pre-order.
Last but not least, stay tuned, as we will be working together to devise a complete game plan to tackle this issue head on. Once we reach the tipping point, which may be as little as five percent of the population, we will be able to reverse the policies of water fluoridation.
Our strategy will begin with addressing Canada, because 60 percent of Canada is already un-fluoridated. If we can get the rest of Canada to stop fluoridating their water, we believe the U.S. will be forced to follow.
You can always visit www.FluorideAlert.org for the most recent updates and progress.
In addition, we're willing to support any credible activist for this cause, who is scientifically based and grounded, regardless of where you live in the US. We can provide resources to help support you in your effort to eliminate fluoride from your local community – and it really needs to be a community battle.
We're not going to be able to pass a federal law against fluoridation. There is not going to be a Presidential mandate or even a State-wide elimination. This change will occur one community at a time.
"It's politics that is interfering with science in this issue,"Connett says . "It's a matter of political will, and you cannot change political will if you don't get the people. We must involve the people."