Wednesday, Nov 19, 2008
Did you know that fluoride in our water supplies is the only chemical added for a specific medical purpose, i.e. to prevent tooth decay? All other chemicals are added for treatment purposes, to improve the quality and safety of tap water. And an expert has voiced his concerns over the potential negative impact of fluoride in drinking water on the health of fetuses and infants.
Dr Vyvyan Howard is a medical pathologist and toxicologist, and also President of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment. In a short video clip put together by the Fluoride Action Network, he expressed his concern over the use of fluoride in our water supplies.
About Dr Howard
Over the last two to three decades, Dr Howard’s research has centered on the effects of toxic substances on the development of fetuses and infants. This, of course, is a period of life whereby one is particularly vulnerable to certain external effects.
So, how was Dr Howard’s attention first drawn to fluoride? According to him, it was the “very very low levels” of the chemical found in human breast milk. This, he said, is due to a mechanism developed in the course of evolution, specifically for keeping the substance away from developing infants.
“Nature has devised a system for keeping fluoride away from the infant, and we are circumventing that by putting fluoride into drinking water, and I think there are consequences,” he said.
What consequences? According to Dr Howard, fluoride is a developmental toxin. More specifically, it is a neurotoxin, and it may also affect the intelligence of the child. While the evidence may not yet be clear-cut, there do seem to be strong indications.
Further, Dr Howard said that other studies have shown the possible ability of fluoride to affect hormonal systems and endocrine systems. In particular, it can influence thyroid levels, and that can have an impact on the IQ in children who are in the development phase.
When thyroid levels are measured in the mother, being at the upper limit of the normal range of thyroid and being at the lower limit of the normal range brings about a difference in intelligence in the offspring. Where thyroid levels are concerned, we are thus “tinkering with quite a sensitive system”.
About Water Fluoridation
Should fluoride be added to our water supplies? Dr Howard was quite clear about what he felt.
“So, the evidence is out there for us to have to say that we got to be very careful. And my opinion is that there isn’t a satisfactory one dose fits all solution through treating our population via tap water. There are going to be some members of that population which will be more disadvantaged than others, and they will obviously include the fetus and the infant, but at the other end of life, people who have got marginal kidney function will be more susceptible. And therefore, I don’t think, on a precautionary basis, that we should be continuing the fluoridation of drinking water supplies,” he said.
And he had some strong words regarding the authorities who continue adding fluoride to water supplies, too.
“If governments don’t have ways of making sure that people in the areas that are fluoridated who are susceptible, like bottled fed babies, are actually stopped from being exposed in that way, then they have no right, really, to be using a mass medication like this,” he added.
According to the video clip, Dr Howard is one of over 1,750 professionals from various communities – medical, scientific, and environmental – to sign a statement “calling for an end to water fluoridation worldwide”.
Worried about the Teeth?
There may be some of us who are worried about how removing fluoride from our drinking water might affect our teeth. But we may not need to be.
An increasing number of studies have cast doubts on the benefits which water fluoridation can bring to the teeth. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, the tooth decay rates of countries which do not fluoridate their water supplies are just as low, or even lower, than those countries which do.
Further, several studies published since 2000 have reported that there has been no increase in tooth decay rates noted in communities which ended water fluoridation.
And we should also note that, in November 2006, the American Dental Association actually advised parents to avoid giving fluoridated water to babies.
Babies who are exposed to fluoride have a higher risk of getting dental fluorosis, which is a permanent tooth defect arising when fluoride damages the cells which form the teeth.
Fluoride’s benefits result from topical contact with the teeth, and swallowing or ingesting it brings minimal benefit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluoride’s “predominant effect is posteruptive and topical”. Posteruptive means “occurring or forming after eruption (as of the teeth)”.
Removing Fluoride from Our Water
In fact, ingesting fluoride comes with many health risks. Besides affecting the brain and the thyroid gland, the bones and kidneys can also be negatively impacted.
For those of us who are genuinely concerned about our health, and especially the health of our little ones, removing fluoride from our drinking water is imperative.
Unfortunately, unlike for chlorine, boiling does not do the trick. An installation of a reverse osmosis filter, or carrying out of water distillation, may thus be necessary.