There has been an on-going debate for decades regarding the safety and efficacy of using fluoride in municipal water supplies, and to a lesser extent, in toothpastes. The American Dental Association advocates fluoridation, whereas some independent scientists and many physicians versed in environmental medicine do not.

Fluoride is a Drug

Unlike all other water treatment processes, water fluoridation does not treat the water itself, but is targeted at the person consuming it. Although U.S. authorities “poo-poo” health concerns about fluoride in water, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers fluoride a drug and not a mineral supplement. Fluoride has never received FDA approval and once this drug is put into the water supply, there is no control over the individual dosage. Most European nations have rejected putting fluoride in the public water supply. Not only is it not appropriate to put a drug in the water supply, fluorine is toxic. Gainesville’s city water is fluoridated. Of course fluoride is available for individual use if a person so chooses in the form of toothpaste and in some mouthwashes for topical application.

In 2012 I attended an American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) meeting. One of the speakers was Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., who has a degree in pharmacology from the University of Kansas Medical Center and postdoctoral training in environmental medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She has conducted and published research on the long-term toxicological consequences of perinatal exposure to drugs and environmental pollutants while holding appointments at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and at the Harvard School of Medicine. For over thirty years she has served as a consultant to various industries and other institutions concerning toxic exposures and litigation. She is currently the Research Director for Second Look, a national, educational non-profit organization that provides scientific and medical information concerning toxic exposures in the workplace and ambient environment. Her talk at the AAEM meeting was on psychiatric consequences of fluoride overexposure.

One of the most important points Dr. Mullenix made was the effects of exposure to a toxin during the vulnerable periods of development of the central nervous system are “permanent.” What does this mean? If a pregnant mother is exposed to a toxin that can cross the placental barrier, the developing baby will also be exposed and often at a higher concentrated amount of the toxin. Fluoride and heavy metals such as mercury cross the placenta, and if this exposure occurs during a vulnerable time in development, the damage that occurs might be irreversible. So this is not an accumulation effect like we see in adults, where over time, small amounts of a toxin will bio-accumulate and increase in a person’s body, finally reaching a toxic level. An immature blood brain barrier enhances penetration of the central nervous system by toxins like fluoride whereas this may not occur in an adult brain that is fully formed. The effects on the mature central nervous system with vulnerable receptor function is an accumulation problem and potentially treatable as in the case of toxic metal overload.

Fluoride Lowers I.Q. and Disrupts Hormones

U.S. researchers have ignored or rejected the connection between fluoride and lowered IQ. Twenty-seven studies done outside of the United States in Europe and China have demonstrated lowered IQ scores as a consequence of fluoride exposure. In addition, our readers should be aware that all solid fluoride additives used in treatment of municipal water supplies come from outside of the United States (from either China or Japan) and contain lead, arsenic and huge amounts of aluminum. State authorities do not require aluminum levels to be measured. We often see elevated aluminum levels on hair analyses of our patients at the Center where there has been no obvious exposure such as in using aluminum cookware.

A condition called dental fluorosis occurs from fluoridation of water where millions of children have a discoloration of their teeth due to excessive fluoride intake. Even scientists from the Centers for Disease Control have acknowledged that fluoridation is causing “cosmetically objectionable”
fluorosis on children’s front teeth – an effect that can cause children embarrassment and anxiety at an age when physical appearance is very important for their self-esteem.

Daily fluoride exposure can also affect thyroid function in children and adults. Fluoride displaces iodine in body, which is found in thyroid hormone, in the thyroid gland, heart, sex organs and other areas. Iodine is in the same chemical halogen family as fluorine, chlorine and bromine, so iodine can be displaced by these chemicals and cause physiological dysfunction. Fluoride is an endocrine disruptor and alone binds with calcium, magnesium, and manganese. It breaks hydrogen bonds.

There can be occupational exposure to fluoride in high concentrations among welders and water operators who use hydrogen fluoride gas, and among anesthesiologists who administer Sevoflurange/HF gas.

Anxiety, Depression and Suicide

During her lecture, Dr. Mullenix discussed the historical use of fluorine gas as a part of the manufacture of the atomic bomb during the Manhattan project. Accidents occurred at the plant where workers, in spite of wearing protective clothing and respirators, inhaled fluorine gas. Symptoms were primarily mental reactions with overstimulation, apprehension, fatigue and weakness not improved with rest, confusion or impaired cognition, and depression and suicide. I see patients who present to the Center taking SSRI drugs such as Prozac or Paxil for depression. These drugs contain fluoride. Is it a coincidence that the warning label cautions patients these drugs can produce anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation, especially in younger patients?

In 1997 warning labels were placed on toothpastes containing fluoride. “Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.” One of the issues parents should be aware of is children have poorly developed swallowing reflexes, especially below the age of 2 years, and on a per-body-weight basis, children have about 3 to 4 times greater fluoride exposure than do adults.

“Fluoridation goes against all principles of pharmacology. It’s obsolete.” – Dr. Arvid Carlsson. Nobel Laureate in Medicine/Physiology. I agree. I only drink purified water from my well or bottled spring water.