"Safe Water" Proponents Twist Fluoride Facts to Scare You

Weapons of Mass Deception?

Spreading Misinformation (or bad information = bad decisions)
Can you trust what you read in the newspaper? Can you trust what you read on the Internet? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Read how to tell the difference below:

What is Quackwatch?
Quackwatch.org is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies.  They characterize the "information" provided by fluoride opponents as propaganda which makes heavy use of "the big lie" and half-truths to deceive the unwary.  Read more about the deceptive tactics used by the antifluoridationists below.

Local Misinformation
The "Arcata Citizens for Safe Water" make a number of provocative claims from the established anti-fluoride community in their public statements and on their website. Let's see how some of them stand up to scrutiny:

The FDA has the authority to regulate municipal drinking water?
Fluoride opponents would like you to believe that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can regulate what is put into municipal drinking water. They provide a snippet of congressional testimony which says that when fluoride is used to treat or prevent disease, it is considered to be a drug and thus is regulated by the FDA. As with many other assertions made by the anti-fluoride camp, the snippet is a half-truth taken completely out of context. It refers to the FDA's mandate to regulate fluoride-containing toothpastes, supplements, mouthrinses and other products (such as the paste used to polish your teeth at the dentist's office). And, in accordance with that authority, the FDA has approved a large variety and number of such products.

However, the FDA does not have jurisdiction over municipal drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act gave that responsibility to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The FDA's own website says as much: "The regulation of water is divided between the Environmental Protection Agency and FDA. EPA has the responsibility for developing national standards for drinking water from municipal water supplies. FDA regulates the labeling and safety of bottled water." Click on the link, scroll to the bottom of the page and see for yourself.

So the fluoride opponent's ballot initiative requiring FDA approval of "additives" to municipal drinking water is simply a cynical ploy to eliminate fluoridation because they know (or should know) that it is impossible for the FDA to regulate fluoride in municipal drinking water.

Can you trust anything the fluoride opponents tell you?

Fluoride is toxic?
Fluoride opponents are fond of stating that that the bags containing the sodium fluoride used to fluoridate Arcata's water are labelled "TOXIC." The bags contain pure sodium fluoride and this substance, if ingested in large quantities (such as dipping your spoon into the bag and eating it), is indeed toxic. However, simply because something is toxic under certain circumstances (e.g. high dose) does not make it toxic under all circumstances, and certain "toxic substances" are actually necessary for life. Iodine (which is in the same periodic table group as fluorine) is also toxic when ingested in large quantities. However if iodine were not added to table salt, the incidence of thyroid disease (goiter) would increase because this element is necessary for health. Oxygen administered at 100% under pressure is also toxic, which is why divers do not use pure oxygen. Even pure water can be toxic if one ingests too much of it.

Should we ban oxygen and water?

AMA does not endorse fluoridation?
Two quotes are given on the "Safe Water" website, along with something which could be construed as the American Medical Association logo. These quotes suggest that the American Medical Association does not support community water fluoridation. However, here's what the AMA itself has to say on the topic: "The AMA urges state health departments to consider the value of requiring statewide fluoridation (preferably a comprehensive program of fluoridation of all public water supplies, where these are fluoride deficient), and to initiate such action as deemed appropriate."

Don't just take our word - check it out for yourself on the AMA website: AMA Statement on Fluoridation

The EPA is against fluoridation?
A quote is given on the "Safe Water" website along with something which could be construed as the Environmental Protection Agency logo. The quote suggests that the EPA does not support community water fluoridation. And again, this is highly deceptive!  In the first place, the EPA is barred, by law, from either opposing or endorsing fluoridation of municipal water supplies.  But they are not barred from making statements about fluoride's effectiveness in fighting cavities or in its safety.  Let's see what the EPA really says about the cavity-fighting effectiveness of fluoridation: "Fluoride in drinking water at levels of about 1 ppm reduces the number of dental cavities." (Reference: 51 Fed Reg 1140, 1986.) With regard to safety, the EPA says "There exists no directly applicable scientific documentation of adverse medical effects at levels of fluoride below 8mg/liter." (Reference: 62 Fed Reg 64297, 1997.)

Later on, the anti's site states explicitly that the EPA is against fluoride, and it cites a vote opposing water fluoridation by one local union of the National Treasury Employees Union (Chapter 280) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This vote was taken at a meeting attended by less than 20 members of the union which is over 1000 strong. In fact, the "ringleader" of the 20 members who voted to oppose fluoride, Bill Hirzy, is the first to admit that he does not represent the position of the EPA. However, the antifluoridationists tend to see that distinction as unimportant and instead try to mislead the public into believing that the EPA is against water fluoridation.

Fluoride is of no value in diminishing cavities?
Their website says "Fluoride compounds in water and in supplements do not provide any significant cavity-protecting effects." This is an out-and-out fiction with absolutely no basis in fact!

The United States Public Health Service states that "Fluoride has substantial benefits in the prevention of tooth decay. Numerous studies, taken together, clearly establish a causal relationship between water fluoridation and the prevention of dental caries. While dental decay is reduced by fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinses, professional fluoride treatments and fluoride dietary supplements, fluoridation of water is the most cost-effective method. It provides the greatest benefit to those who can least afford preventive and restorative dentistry and reduces dental disease, loss of teeth, time away from work or school, and anesthesia-related risks associated with dental treatment." In fact, fluoride's cavity-fighting effectiveness is so great that community water fluoridation was hailed as one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you want to find out the truth about the effectiveness of fluoride in preventing cavities, look at this recommendation from the United States Centers for Disease Control which has numerous references from the scientific literature.

You can also learn a lot by going to this webpage at the Centers for Disease Control.

Fluoride banned in Europe?
Antifluoridationists are fond of stating that fluoride has been banned in Europe. What's the truth?

Because their public water systems are both older and of smaller scale than those in the U.S., many European countries (e.g. Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland) find it more cost-effective to provide the cavity-fighting benefits of fluoridation by adding it to table salt (much the way iodine is added to salt in the U.S. to prevent goiter).

Fluoride opponents point to the relatively recent decision of the Swiss Canton of Basle to eliminate fluoridation of drinking water as proof that fluoride has been recognized as harmful, but as usual they don't tell the whole story. What are the facts behind the decision?

In Switzerland both water and salt fluoridation was in use in different regions, with water fluoridation being used in Basle. Fluoridated salt was marked "Not to be delivered to Basle" but in 1995 Swiss Federal law was changed so that the cantons could no longer regulate the salt trade. As a result, in 2000 fluoridated salt began to be sold in Basle. This caused many people to ingest both fluoridated water and fluoridated salt, so the Canton voted to cease water fluoridation in 2003. Since its introduction in 1962 the water fluoridation scheme in Basle had been challenged on the political scene by antifluoridationists. However, the allegations of harm were all regarded as unfounded by the Cantonal Parliament, and this opinion was upheld in the official document leading to the cessation of water fluoridation. The document also restated that the Swiss Federal Court had decided that water fluoridation was constitutional (Reference: J. MEYER and P. Wiehl, Schweiz Monatsschr. Zahnmed 2003). Of course the antifluoridationists conveniently leave out these facts when they tell the story of Basle.

A wide spectrum of health-related organizations, including the health advisory committee of the European Union, and numerous national health authorities in Europe have supported fluoridation for caries prevention. In fact, a recent controversial Belgian attempt to ban food supplements and chewing gum containing fluoride fell afoul of European law after the European commission said that any such ban would be illegal. (Ref: The Guardian 7/31/02).

Does that sound like fluoride has been banned in Europe??? Can you trust people who say that it has been?

We did not research every claim made by the antifluoridationists, and neither can you, particlularly since they do not provide references which can be researched - which is probably no accident. However, except for the list of communities which have "taken action" against fluoride, every claim that we have checked into has been either highly misleading or a complete fiction. Even their list of communities where "action" has been taken is itself misleading - they've lost many of these battles. Watsonville, for example, was bullied into resisting California state law which requires fluoridation of communities with at least 10,000 hookups. When this case went to court, they lost! In PaloAlto, a referendum to remove fluoridation was defeated 80%-20%. Having lost in Palo Alto (the home of Stanford University), the antifluoridationists are hoping that they can put one over on the citizens of Arcata and the HSU faculty and students.

Quackwatch exposes deceptive tactics used by fluoride opponents:
"The antifluoridationists' ("antis") basic technique is the big lie... it is simple to use, yet surprisingly effective. It consists of claiming that fluoridation causes cancer, heart and kidney disease, and other serious ailments that people fear. The fact that there is no supporting evidence for such claims does not matter. The trick is to keep repeating them -- because if something is said often enough, people tend to think there must be some truth to it.

"A variation of the big lie is the laundry list. List enough "evils," and even if proponents can reply to some of them, they will never be able to cover the entire list. This technique is most effective in debates, letters to the editor, and television news reports. Another variation is the simple statement that fluoridation doesn't work. Although recent studies show less difference than there used to be in decay rates between fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities, the benefit is still substantial. In fact, the Public Health Service estimates that every dollar spent for community fluoridation saves about fifty dollars in dental bills.

"A key factor in any anti campaign is the use of printed matter. Because of this, antis are very eager to have their views printed. Scientific journals will rarely publish them, but most local newspapers are willing to express minority viewpoints regardless of whether facts support them. A few editors even welcome the controversy the antis generate -- expecting that it will increase readership.

"The aim of anti "documents" is to create the illusion of scientific controversy. Often they quote statements that are out of date or out of context. Quotes from obscure or hard-to-locate journals are often used. Another favored tactic is to misquote a profluoridation scientist, knowing that even if the scientist protests, the reply will not reach all those who read the original misquote.

"Half-truths are commonly used. For example, saying that fluoride is a rat poison ignores the fact that poison is a matter of dose. Large amounts of many substances -- even pure water -- can poison people. But the trace amount of fluoride contained in fluoridated water will not harm anyone.

"Experts" are commonly quoted. It is possible to find someone with scientific credentials who is against just about anything. Most "experts" who speak out against fluoridation, however, are not experts on the subject. There are, of course, a few dentists and physicians who oppose fluoridation. Some of them object to fluoridation as a form of government intrusion, even though they know it is safe and effective."
Click here for the complete Quackwatch article.

Quackwatch articles quoted with permission — thank you.
“In the interest of public health, the American Dental Association unreservedly endorses fluoridation of community water supplies as safe, effective, and necessary in the preventing of tooth decay—and this has been the policy of ADA since 1950.”

American Dental Association Statement

Fluoride's properties were discovered in the American Southwest due to the markedly better teeth health of the local population than in other regions of the country.

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