April 7, 2009

Obey: Re-evaluating the Fluoridation of Tap Water.

If you saw what the river carried, you would never drink the water.

~ Jamaican Proverb

In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty.

~ Imbesi’s Conservation of Filth Law

Next to air, water is the most essential nutrient for life. Chemicals are added to your drinking water to make it safe to drink—and fluoride’s one of them. But fluoride isn’t a nutrient—it’s a nonessential trace mineral, the 13th most common element in the earth’s crust. Unlike minerals like calcium and magnesium, fluoride has never been found essential for human life. And even the Environmental Protection Agency has called for more studies to determine the risks of fluoridating water.

The word fluoride is derived from the Latin root fluor, meaning, “to flow.”Elemental fluoride is called fluorine, an especially tiny atom that appears as a pale yellow gas. Sodium fluoride is a by-product of the aluminum industry, as well as the phosphate, pesticide, gasoline, coal burning, fertilizer, uranium, glass, steel, beryllium and copper industries. It has the unique property of reducing the temperature at which molten metals flows out of ore. Teflon plastic, waterproof clothing, and even drugs such as Prozac and Cipro use fluoride. Of the 27 major tranquilizers, seven are fluoride compounds.

Fluoride is an industrial pollutant, more toxic than lead, non-biodegradable and expensive to dispose of. It’s the second largest pollutant in Canada and, during the Cold War, was blamed for more environmental damage than 20 other major air pollutants combined. Much of the fluoride added to today’s drinking water is “scrubbed” from the Florida phosphate fertilizer factories smokestacks to help prevent damage to surrounding crops and livestock. Fluorocarbon, another common pollutant, is made by fluoride tightly bonding to carbon atoms. Even one part hydrogen fluoride in the air can etch glass!

During World War II, the German I.G. Farben Companyplanned to fluoridate the water of occupied countries, believing that it caused slight brain damage to specific areas of the brain, making a person docile toward authority. The idea of putting fluoride in American water supplies came from the Mellon Institute, the main research facility for ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America)—one of the largest fluoride polluters on Earth. How convenient to have a method of disposing of an otherwise useless industrial pollutant at we taxpayers’ expense! By the mid-1930’s fluoride was linked by European scientists to respiratory disorders, central nervous system problems and musculoskeletal ailments. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain and Sweden have said ‘No, thanks’to water fluoridation. Fluorine tends to be utilized by the body in place of iodine, thus contributing to thyroid enlargement and sometimes hypothyroid function. Is it any wonder Synthroid, a medicine for low thyroid function, is a top-selling drug, of which osteoporosisis a side effect? Fluoride-using lab animals exhibit kidney damage, including chronic nephritis, bone and tooth damage. It’s a known carcinogen and has been linked to elevated cancer risks in rats, mice and human.

According to a 1943 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), “Fluorides are generally protoplasmic poisons, probably because of their capacity to modify metabolism of the cells by changing the permeability of the cell membrane, and by inhibiting certain enzyme systems. Fluoride has been linked in many studies to brain impairment, low sperm and testosterone count, infertility, kidney stones, depression, atherosclerosis, oral cancers and cataracts.

Fluorides rapidly bind to calcium, causing the cell membranes to harden and inhibit collagen production. They break down the sulfhydral links composing the protein-based connective tissues. Fluoride combines with stomach acids to form hydrofluoric acid, which can dissolve protein (and steel and glass!). Like lead, fluoride also accumulates in your bones. In plants, fluoride exposure can interfere with photosynthesis.

Fluoride does not prevent tooth decay when ingested. It is only considered effective when applied topically, not swallowed. Excess fluoride can cause mottling (spotting that includes white blotches) ofthe teeth. Fluoride tablets have been known to cause digestive disturbances, skin rash, headache, weakened immunity and weakness— all of which disappear when fluoride is discontinued. The Food and Drug Administration does not approve of fluoride in the form of drops or tablets. Each tube of fluoride toothpaste contains between 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of fluoride, which is enough to kill a small child who might decide to eat the entire thing. And while it’s impossible to determine how much water a person consumes, athletes, those in hot climates, diabetics and those with kidney ailments might consume much more water than average.

In 1945, Public Health Servicescheduled a 10-year double blind study in which the waters of Newburg, New York would be fluoridated, while the water of nearby Kingston, New York would not be. After only five years, the study was abruptly halted after it found that the children in fluoridated Newburg had 50% more dental decay than in Kingston. Still, the American Dental Association promoted fluoridation. It is also curious that the studies used were done with calcium fluoride, yet what actually goes into water supplies is sodium fluoride.

In 1945, water fluoridation began in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A lawyer from ALCOA who was appointed to a position at Public Health Service launched the campaign to portray fluoride as a protector of children.

It is said that fluoride makes dental enamel more resistant to the acids in foods. Wouldn’t it be safer to limit sugar intake, and floss and brush our teeth? After all, many things once considered safe and beneficial have since been shown to be bad for us: mercury dental fillings, herbicides, DDT, lead in gasoline and paint, aluminum in deodorants, methyl and propyl parabens, asbestos and synthetic hormones in food. Perhaps fluoridation needs to be re-evaluated?


Update: “Harvard Study Finds Fluoride Lowers IQ. Further, the EPA says fluoride is a chemical “with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.” (reuters.com)

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