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Require Adding Toxic Waste to Your Drinking Water?
Tell PA Reps to "Just Say No!"

By Mike Ewall, ActionPA

On February 24th, 2009, the mandatory fluoridation bill was introduced once again and sent to the the Health & Human Services Committee. There are actually two bills in this session: House Bill 584 and House Bill 1382 both require that 97% of Pennsylvanians be forced to have toxic waste in their drinking water. In addition, HB 1382 would stick ratepayers with the entire cost. Water fluoridation helps the phosphate industry get rid of a very potent chemical waste product hydrofluosilicic acid which would be regulated as hazardous waste if it were dumped into rivers, the ocean, or anywhere else but our drinking water. The waste products collected in the pollution control systems of phosphate fertilizer factories come contaminated with arsenic, lead and radionuclides and are added, unprocessed, to drinking water supplies.

This is sold to the public as adding "fluoride" to the drinking water, allegedly to prevent tooth decay. Overwhelming evidence has shown a variety of harmful health effects from fluoride ingestion, but no significant difference in tooth decay in fluoridated communities vs. non-fluoridated communities. The practice of water fluoridation is very helpful to the phosphate industry, converting a hazardous waste disposal cost of about $400 million a year to a profit of $180 million from sales to public water systems.

In 1985, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee complained to their union that they were forced to write a regulation supporting a safe drinking water standard for fluoride (4 parts per million) that is known to cause serious dental fluorosis the white, yellow or brown spotting or mottling of tooth enamel. EPA higher-ups argued this was only cosmetic and not a health effect.

In April 1998, after trying to resolve this ethics issue internally for years, the union representing approximately 1,500 scientists, lawyers, engineers and other professional employees at EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. took a public stand opposed to water fluoridation. The union stated:

"our opposition to drinking water fluoridation has grown, based on the scientific literature documenting the increasingly out-of-control exposures to fluoride, the lack of benefit to dental health from ingestion of fluoride and the hazards to human health from such ingestion. These hazards include acute toxic hazard, such as to people with impaired kidney function, as well as chronic toxic hazards of gene mutations, cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, bone pathology and dental fluorosis."

Their concern has increased as the scientific evidence against fluoridation accumulates. In August 2005, eleven EPA unions representing over 7,000 environmental and public health professionals called for a national moratorium on drinking water fluoridation programs. The unions acted following revelations of an apparent cover-up of evidence from Harvard School of Dental Medicine linking fluoridation with elevated risk of a fatal bone cancer in young males.

In March 2006, after reviewing over 1,000 scientific papers on fluoridation, the National Academy of Sciences released a 450-page report, arguing that EPA's standard is not protective of public health. The report documents fluoride's role in dental fluorosis (damage to tooth enamel), skeletal fluorosis (brittle bones; increase risk of fractures), impaired thyroid function and possible links to diabetes, reduced IQ, early onset of puberty and more.

Several studies presented at the March 2006 conferences of the American Association for Dental Research showed no benefit from fluoridation, but increased incidence of dental fluorosis in fluoridated communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 41% of U.S. children aged 12-15 and 36% of children 16-19 now have some form of dental fluorosis, with 2 to 4% of children having the moderate to severe stages.

Many studies new and old have shown that the alleged benefits of fluoride are topical and that ingesting fluoride does not help fight cavities. Swallowing fluoride to prevent tooth decay makes as much sense as swallowing suntan lotion to prevent sun burns.

Even if fluoride ingestion were effective at preventing tooth decay, it makes no sense to administer medication via the public water supply, where there is no control over the dose people get. No credible doctor would give out medication and say "take as much as you want" yet dentists do exactly that when they promote water fluoridation.

In most areas of toxicology, it's standard to have a safety margin of 100 between the "safe dose" and the level at which a chemical is known to cause harm. This is done to protect sensitive populations, like the young, the elderly and those in poor health. With fluoride, there is no margin of safety. Negative health effects have been found in the range of 1-4 parts per million (ppm). The "recommended" level for water is 1 ppm. The EPA maximum contaminant level is 4 ppm. Since people are now exposed to fluoride in their drinking water, toothpaste, plus a variety of foods made/processed with fluoridated water or sprayed with fluoridated pesticides, the general population is exposed to ever-higher doses, pushing many over any "safe" limit.

Why use fluoridated water to shower, flush toilets, wash dishes, water gardens or wash cars? Why use industrial waste rather than the pharmaceutical grade fluoride that is used in toothpaste? Why force people to ingest chemicals that aren't needed to make drinking water safe? Fluoride toothpaste for those who want fluoride is cheap. Distillers or reverse osmosis filters (which, unlike carbon filters, can remove fluoride from drinking water) are expensive.

Mandatory fluoridation bills have been pushed for 20 years, and activists have consistently stopped them.

In Pennsylvania, 9% of the water systems are fluoridated, exposing 52% of PA residents to fluoride in their drinking water. House Bills 584 and 1382 would nearly double that to 97%, affecting every water system with over 500 customers. It would take away the rights of water systems to stop fluoridating.

We need your help! Here's what you can do:

    Call and email State Representative Oliver and ask that before HB 584 is voted on, they need to have balanced hearings, presenting the pros and cons of water fluoridation. Tell him that you oppose the bill and that it's too controversial of a topic to keep pushing through without hearings. No hearings have been held on the issue in over 20 years and none of the new science on the topic have been presented to the legislature.

  1. Share info with your friends, neighbors, school board, water authorities and civic groups and ask them to pass resolutions against mandatory water fluoridation.

  2. ActionPA has a Pennsylvania Fluoride Action Network email list to keep people informed on this issue. Email us to ask to subscribe. If you don't have email but would like to be in the loop, call Mike Ewall at 215-743-4884.

  3. Let us know what you've done to help. A quick "I called my Rep" email is fine.

For more information, see:

10 Reasons to Oppose Mandatory Fluoridation in PA

Fluoride Action Network:

Water Fluoridation in Pennsylvania:

Return to Pennsylvania Fluoridation Legislation page
Return to Fluoridation page
Return to ActionPA home

Last modified: 1 June 2009

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