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Environmental Studies
Fluoride Frenzy

Fluoridation Frenzy

History of Fluoridation
How Fluoride Works


What is going on now?

The Arguments Against
The Internet Effect
References & Links

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The Arguments Against Fluoridation 

            The arguments in favor of fluoridation are simply summarized by the statement that municipal water fluoridation is a safe, cheap, and effective way to enhance public health by preventing dental caries. The anti-fluoridation movement, by contrast, draws from an array of arguments and evidence and thus deserves further explanation. Many of their main arguments are summarized below.

            The health benefits of fluoride are topical – The CDC conceded as early as 1999 that the primary health benefits of fluoride come from topical use, such as using fluoride toothpastes – not from drinking it. Opponents of water fluoridation point to the unnecessary risk of consuming a questionably safe substance that can be better utilized more safely and effectively in other ways.

            Fluoride is not recommended for babies – The ADA and other researchers have found that the possibility of incurring dental fluorosis and other negative effects are higher for babies. However, in communities that fluoridate their water, people of all ages receive the same municipal water.

            Fluoride can damage the brain, the thyroid gland, diminish bone strength, and cause cancer – For these claims, activists point to a growing body of evidence that has come out since 1990’s, including research conducted by the National Research Council and the National Toxicology Program.

            1990 NRC animal studies found that fluoride exposures of 1ppm (the same level as is considered ‘optimal’ for humans) caused dementia like effects in animal test subjects. A 1998 study by Guan et al. found that exposing rats to fluoride depleted the presence of chemical that helps form the membrane of brain cells. (

            The cancer concern relating to fluoride is osteosaracoma – to which males are especially vulnerable. The National Toxicology Program conducted a 2 year study in which rats and mice were given fluorinated water. They observed that exposure did correlate to cell mutations – which can cause cancer. (

            It is known that fluoride can have significant inpacts on teeth, including dental flourosis. This is a condition where fluoride damages enamel forming cells, resulting in a brownish discoloration of teeth. There is dispute as to whether this is merely a cosmetic concern or a health concern. However, fluoride may affect other bones as well. A 2006 NRC study found that fluoride was linked to diminished bone strength and may lead to increased risk of bone fracture. (

            Water fluoridation’s benefits are exaggerated – Follow up studies since the 1950 NAS study have found disparities in oral health between fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities to not be as extreme as once believed. Further, while only 3% of western Europe fluoridates their water, they have seen comparable decreases in dental caries over the last 50 years. This improved oral health in general can be attributed to fluoride toothpastes and generally better oral health practices.

            The risks of fluoridation fall unfairly onto low income populations – While supporters of fluoridation claim that water fluoridation especially helps low income communities who cannot otherwise afford dental care, FAN makes the counter argument that these low income individuals cannot afford to move out of fluoridated areas or buy bottled water to avoid fluoride if they so choose. By combining this argument with the fact that the ADA recommends not giving fluoridated water to young children, FAN proposes compelling reasoning for why a CDC study found dental fluorosis rates to be highest among African American children. (

            Fluoridated water makes less sense now than it did in 1950 – In 1950 water was generally the only way people were exposed to fluoride. These days, fluoride toothpaste, fluoride pesticides, fluorinated pharmaceuticals, and processed foods made with fluoridated water all contribute to our daily fluoride exposure, making it more likely that we exceed safe daily doses – and less important to add fluoride to municipal water.

            Fluoridated water is forced medication – Unlike other chemicals added to water, fluoride is the only chemical intended to treat people, not the water itself. This moral idea of ‘compulsory medication’ provides the main reasoning for the rejection of water fluoridation in Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and other European countries. (

Nursery Water

Despite the fact that even the ADA recommends
not giving young children fluoridated water, some
nursery water marketed for infants advertises
added fluoride.

Last updated:  5/2/2010


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