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Why Does the U.S. Ignore Fluoride Toxicity in Drinking Water?

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Why Does the U.S. Ignore Fluoride Toxicity in Drinking Water?
The controversy over adding fluoride to the US drinking water supplies has been going on for nearly as long as the government has added the toxic chemicals since the 1940s. If fluoride is such a toxic chemical then why does the government mandate its use in community water supplies (1)?

Clearly, some water has naturally occurring fluoride (calcium fluoride) that is different from the additives used in fluoridation processes. Natural fluoride effects on humans have been studied. In examining “several long-term adverse effects” the findings included (2):

–> Dental fluorosis
–> Skeletal fluorosis
–> Weakened bones

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) research scientist and lead author Anna Choi of the Department of Environmental Health and senior author adjunct professor of environmental health Philippe Grandjean wrote a paper on the possible health risks that fluoridation might have on children (3).

The pair evaluated 27 studies, 25 of which were conducted in China, of children exposed to fluoride. The first thing noted was the need to consider the level of fluoride exposure. The paper notes that some information wasn’t available with “some limitations” identified.


Their summation of risks to children included:

–> “Possible risks to brain development in children. Studies have been conducted in China; however, “this possible hazard has not received much, if any, consideration in the U.S.”

–> Intelligence tests of children exposed to fluoride revealed “poorer performance on IQ tests. Fluoride released into the ground water in China in some cases greatly exceeded levels that are typical in the U.S.”

–> 26 of the studies, “documented an IQ deficit associated with increased fluoride exposure.”

–> The results didn’t allow any judgment “regarding possible levels of risk at levels of exposure typical for water fluoridation in the U.S.” The scientists are quick to point out that the absence of that judgment didn’t mean there wasn’t any risk to children in the US. Further research is needed to “clarify what role fluoride exposure levels may play in possible adverse effects on brain development, so that future risk assessments can properly take into regard this possible hazard.”

The practice of fluoridation of drinking water is hailed as a preventative measure for tooth decay in children. However, how much fluoride a child and adult ingest over the period of one day is basically unknown.

That’s because the accumulated amount of fluoride can differ from one person to another based on water, food and air consumption (4).

drinking water

How Much Fluoride Do You Consume Daily?

In the book, “The Hundred Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health” investigative journalist Randall Fitzgerald writes, “A US Department of Health and Human Service [DHHS] report estimates that the average person absorbs about seven parts per million of fluoride a day from all sources combined – water, food, air, even from pesticides that contain fluoride” (5).

That is seven times the amount that the EPA states as acceptable. According to the EPA, that rate should “be no more than one part per million a day.” Fitzgerald points out that “public water supplies use standards of no more than four parts per million.”

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) publication on water sanitation, “The current WHO guideline value for fluoride in drinking-water is 1.5 mg l–1.” The WHO is specific in its recommendation that as set in 1984, re-evaluated for revision in 1994 and again in 2004. The guideline remained the same. However, the WHO is clear that its recommendation is “not a ‘fixed’ value but is intended to be adapted to take account of local conditions (e.g. diet, water consumption, etc.)” (6).

However, when water treatment is determined at one part per million a day, this is shy .5 of the WHO’s recommendation and doesn’t accommodate differing levels food, air or even pesticides containing fluorides. It would be nearly impossible to evaluate and account for such levels since each individual absorbs different levels depending on consumption and exposure.

In its guidelines for fluoridated water, the CDC states, “Uneven geographic coverage of community water fluoridation throughout the United States, wide variations in natural fluoride concentrations found in drinking water, and almost nonexistent labeling of fluoride concentration in bottled water make knowing the concentration of fluoride in drinking water difficult for many persons” (7).

According to the WHO fluoride toxicity is “dependent upon a number of factors, including the quantity of water [fluoridated] consumed and exposure to fluoride through other routes.”

drinking water

What Chemicals Are Used in Water Fluoridation?

The WHO defines the other contributing factors as:

–> Air pollution as a result of burning fluoride-rich coal
–> Certain foods
–> Certain drinks (such as brick tea)
–> Fluoride supplements

According to the CDC, the fluoride additives used for US community water fluoridation systems include:

–> Fluorosilicic acid: a water-based solution used by most water systems in the United States. Fluorosilicic acid is also referred to as hydrofluorosilicate, FSA, or HFS.

–> Sodium fluorosilicate: a dry additive, dissolved into a solution before being added to water.

These chemical are not to be confused with the pharmaceutical grades used in toothpaste and supplements.

The CDC states that the majority of these additives are made from phosphorite rock. “Phosphorite is mainly used for manufacturing phosphate fertilizer” (8).

Technically, the “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority over safe community drinking water.” However, according to the CDC “The EPA does not specifically regulate levels of ‘direct additives,’ which are additives added to water in the course of treatment, it does specify that the addition of chemicals as part of the treatment process should not be more than the MCL [Maximum Contaminant Level] concentration for regulated substances.”

In 1980, however, the additives program was transferred to the private sector. The “EPA declared a moratorium in 1980 on issuing new advisory opinions on additives.”

In 1985, the “non-profit, non-governmental organizations led by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)” were awarded the EPA cooperative agreement. The NSF later become NSF International and developed a “new additives program”. Three years after handing over the reins to NSF International, the “EPA announced that the new National Sanitation Foundation/American National Standards Institute (NSF/ANSI) Standard 60 was in operation” (9).

The NSF states that the group “developed NSF/ANSI Standard 60, at the request of the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Office of Water, in 1988.”

drinking water

DHHS Recommends Change in Fluoridation Level

The NSF/ANSI Standard 60 guidelines uses the “EPA MCL for fluoride ion in water is 4 mg/L. The data-derived SPAC [Single Product Allowable Concentration] for fluoride ion in drinking water from NSF Certified treatment products is 1.2 mg/L, or less than one-third of the EPA’s MCL.”

The SPAC for fluoride ion sets the allowable maximum use levels (MUL) for NSF 60 Certified fluoridation products as:

–> Fluorosilicic Acid: 6 mg/L
–> Sodium Fluorosilicate: 2 mg/L
–> Sodium Fluoride: 2.3 mg/L

The NSF website states that the US Department of Health and Human Services had recently recommended a change in the current optimal water fluoridation range of 0.7 to 1.2 ppm (mg/L).

The DHHS suggested the range “be updated to an optimal dose of 0.7 ppm (mg/L) due to observations of increasing amounts of fluoride in food that is processed with fluoridated drinking water.”

The NSF/ANSI is still reviewing this recommendation. However, “some US states have elected to adopt this new optimal dose for fluoridation of community water supplies.”

The NSF states that it may change NSF/ANSI 60 range in the future.

References & Image Credits:
(1) TSW: Is Flouride Really Toxic? What the Experts Say
(2) Wikipedia: Water Flouridation Controversy
(3) Harvard
(4) Wikipedia: Water Flouridation Controversy
(5) Google Books
(6) WHO
(7) CDC
(8) CDC
(9) NSF

Originally published on

  • I just posted a reply to the anti-F article posted by Sally Painter. Apparently the moderation process did not approve it. Are posts in agreement with a story the only ones allowed to be viewed?

  • We get a lot of spam/self promotion, so every comment needs manual review. It’ll be processed shortly.

  • How long does this review process go on? Is there something in my post that needs to be addressed?

  • It’s just a long post. Need to review it and vet you as a first-time commenter on a very controversial, politically hot topic. I’m impressed you have the available free time to write what is essentially an entire rebuttal article with research sources, in response to this one. I wish I had that much free time to post such comprehensive article-length comments on blog posts for no pay! In my experience in the online publishing industry, you rarely find anyone willing to dedicate that amount of time to producing content on the web without pay…

  • I appreciate you taking the time to review my posting, Ryan . You can review the content on my fluoridation references pages for additional background and references.

    There is considerable misunderstanding about fluoridation. What I wrote was actually a fairly superficial description of where Sally had misinterpreted the available scientific evidence.

    If you wish a more comprehensive discussion of how fluoridation opponents have ‘adjusted’ the available science in an effort to support their agenda, that can be arranged.

  • Steven D. Slutt

    Fluoridation should end. Fluoride supplementation should be a decision made by a patient and their practitioner, not adding to the public water supply for all to consume regardless of age, medical history, and individual water consumption rates (or dose in this case).

  • 1875
  • Yes – actually before publishing that long rebuttal, I’d like to know whether anyone has paid you to comment on blog posts about this topic? In general I don’t publish content that other sources have paid to produce – that’s called a “sponsored post”, and I’m always wary on topics like this because big companies often try to bypass the system and get material that is beneficial to their industry published, by purchasing the services of writers to do exactly this. Not saying that this is the case here, but it has all the earmarks of it, so I’d just like to play it safe and learn more about you first. I’d like to talk with you further before we move forward. Please email me at ryan @ Thank you.

  • Seabreezes1

    Randy Johnson seems to be associated with the troop of trolls who post on every letter about fluoridation everywhere. Another long winded troll, Johnny Johnson, was quoted in a 2015 “Fluoridation Advocacy Report” written by the Children’s Dental Health Project that praises Pew Charitable Trust marketing and organization, although a critical reading of that report indicates that it is a manual on social media buying and psychological manipulation of public opinion through denigration and distraction. Pew is sponsored by the CDC and Johnny Johnson and Kurt Ferre were identified as members of the “Rapid Response Team.”

    The daily email that goes out to the “RRT” from Dental Coalitions and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that includes links to all fluoride letters and articles nation wide (and perhaps in the English speaking world) also includes self serving sample comments for their cutting and pasting convenience praising the CDC, ADA and AAP.


    aka KSpencer depending on platform.

  • Seabreezes1

    My favorite three items that aggregate the science. Note the citations:

    2014 Peel Canada legal memo and scientific affidavit 2006 NRC panelist, Dr. Kathleen Thiessen (disproportionate harm to susceptible populations):

    2014 legal analysis by Prof. Rita Barnett-Rose (ethical & legal considerations):

    2015 letter to Institute of Medicine from Erin Brockovich, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, et. al. (special considerations and safety):

  • Ryan, I am not, nor have I ever been paid by anyone to post my refutations of misinformation posted as science. I am surprised that you made the assumption that I would not defend scientific integrity simply because I care deeply that scientific claims be presented legitimately and accurately – and choose to expose instances where that is not the case. Sally Painter simply posted some standard anti-F arguments that, if you had researched thoroughly, can easily be shown to be inaccurate.

    Check the posts by 1875 and johndmac here and elsewhere to get a feel for how anti-F posters operate. The so-called Steven D. Slutt is a recent pseudonym adopted by one of the anti-F posters to try and discredit dentist, Steven D. Slott, who spends considerable time refuting the anti-F posts with legitimate science – he is also unpaid.
    I will contact you via e-mail as you requested, and I will provide some links to recent anti-F activity so you can judge for yourself the quality of “evidence” they provide.

  • djklek

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but after two readings I cannot find the reason ( s ) why there is fluoride in the public water supply, in the first place. As a private well user ( no additives ) when we go into the city the smell from faucet water actually brings tears to our eyes. I’ts not scientific, but that’s the way it is …

  • Just curious – where are you in the review process? I sent an e-mail as requested and have heard nothing…

  • Wow….this bit from the report is pretty creepy: “Creating a Rapid Response Team to alert public health activists who are willing to review online articles and, when appropriate, provide scientifically accurate comments about the benefits of water fluoridation.”

    The last line says the “benefits”….not “to provide a balanced scientific analysis about water fluoridation” as though it’s a forgone conclusion already! Considering the abundance of studies available (as mentioned by other readers here), it’s hardly a forgone conclusion. Deep pockets are putting a lot of effort into driving the direction of this debate!

  • Janet Nagel

    This article begins with an inaccurate or imprecise word choice. Certain agencies of the federal government promote fluoridation, but the Safe Drinking Water Act prohibits a federal mandate. Seventeen states have various laws mandating fluoridation, but the rest do not. In the absence of a state mandate, local decision-makers are the ones responsible for the consequences of fluoridation and the violation of internationally recognized standards of public health practice and human rights.

  • Janet Nagel

    It should also be noted that the use of the term “dose” by DHHS as quoted in the last two paragraphs is incorrect. DHHS is actually referring to the concentration of fluoride in the water. The “dose” is what each water consumer receives, depending on how much water they swallow. The concentration may be fairly precise (although it does vary throughout the distribution system) but the dose is very imprecise since there are so many variables determining actual individual consumption.

  • Jesse Farmer

    Randy is troll. He’s paid. He’s garbage.

    He’s not very smart either. He’s just greedy. You don’t argue with him.

    This parasite posts all over the place, including my community of Port Angeles, WA, which this fool couldn’t find on map.

  • Jesse Farmer

    Randy Johnson is a paid troll. He gets paid to post all over the country, and there is nothing real about him.

    He’ll lie, and obfuscate, and confuse and nag.

    Just letting you all know. He’s PAID. He doesn’t care about this issue, your community, your kids, or anything but his 30 pieces of sliver.

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Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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