From Green Right Now Reports

New York City Council member Peter F. Vallone Jr. has called a “Speak Out Against Fluoridation” Rally to be held at 11 a.m. on May 15, on the steps of City Hall.

Fluoride chemicals are added to NYC’s water in a failed effort to treat tap-water drinkers against tooth decay, according to Vallone and the two groups that oppose fluoridation and are supporting the rally, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc and Fluoride Action Network.

Current science, they say, “tells us fluoridation is outdated, ineffective, harmful and a waste of money.”

The practice continues, because of politics and not because it benefits the health of residents, says Vallone, who’s drafted legislation co-sponsored by six other council members to ban the addition of fluoride chemicals to New York City’s water supplies.

“This legislation will have an immediate and critical impact – the city will save between 5 and 7 million dollars per year, and our citizens will no longer ingest a toxic chemical every time they take a sip of water, take a shower or wash a piece of fruit,” Vallone said in a statement announcing the rally.  “We will hear from medical professionals and even a few gifted and talented elementary school students researching fluoridation.”

If New York City rejects the decades-old practice of fluoridating city water, it would send a strong message across the US, said Fluoride Action Network Executive Director Paul Connett and FAN spokesperson, pediatrician Yolanda Whyte.

“The decision to discontinue water fluoridation would send a strong message that NYC is prioritizing the health of its residents especially vulnerable groups including children, seniors, those with kidney and bone disease, and low socioeconomic groups, who are unable to protect themselves from unwanted exposure to this known toxin,” said Whyte.

But getting the largest US city to make this change won’t be easy, say FAN leaders, who’re hoping for a big show of support at the rally. “We urge New Yorkers especially to support Council Member Vallone’s valiant effort to protect their health,” Dr. Connett added.

FAN and the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc., oppose fluoridation on the grounds that the science of the mid-20th Century that led to fluoridating water in cities across the US was flawed.

Back then, public health officials promoted fluoridation of community water systems because fluoride hardens tooth enamel in children, making their teeth more decay resistant. The public health initiatives that swept the nation operated in the belief that fluoridated water created access to fluoride for everyone.

But subsequent studies have shown that people can get too much fluoride, and also that it works best when applied topically, via dental or toothpaste applications, which are now widely available.

Furthermore, the decades-old assumption that ingesting fluoride would cause no harm to children and adults, but confer only a benefit to tooth enamel, has been derailed by international studies showing that excess exposure to fluoride can affect cognition, bone health and in high amounts, erode tooth enamel.

All sides agree that excess fluoride exposure causes fluoridosis of tooth enamel — a mottling or spotting of teeth. Fluoridosis now affects 60% of US adolescents, FAN notes, citing Centers for Disease Control statistics. The reason for the recent rise in fluoridosis can be attributed to widening points of exposure to fluoride, which is present in toothpaste, mouth rinse, fruit juices (made with fluoridated water) and food (grown with fluoridated water).

Meanwhile, despite widespread fluoridation of water supplies, dental decay remains a major public health issue. Critics of fluoridation like Connett have argued this suggests that fluoridating water is at best unsuccessful, and at worst, a health hazard.

“It turns out the fluoride is neither a nutrient nor essential for healthy teeth, meaning that consuming a fluoride-free diet does not cause tooth decay. Fluoride is now regulated as a drug by the FDA and, like all drugs, has adverse side effects. The EPA regulates fluoride as a contaminant,” say NYSCOF and FAN  in a statement supporting the NYC rally.
“All this eliminates the need for water fluoridation but it is so “married” to the credibility of organized dentistry and the government agencies they influence that fluoridation persists today without any valid scientific evidence of its safety or effectiveness.”

The American Dental Association does still strongly support the fluoridation of water as a way to prevent tooth decay, and reported in April that fluoridation is on the rise in the US.

“Between 2000 and 2010, the percent of the U.S. population on public water supplies receiving fluoridated water increased from 65 percent to 73.9 percent, just a percentage point under the Healthy People 2010 national health initiative objective…,” the ADA reported.

“These new figures show that since 2008, nearly 9 million additional Americans are now receiving the cavity prevention benefits of fluoridated water,” said. Dr. William Bailey, acting director, CDC Division of Oral Health. “Water fluoridation continues to be one of the most important community measures to prevent tooth decay. All people can benefit from fluoridation, regardless of age, personal financial resources and access to dental services.”

The ADA cites support from the US Department of Health and Human Services. But in 2011, HHS proposed a lower threshold for “optimally fluoridated water” to help reduce the outbreak of fluorosis among adolescents. The new level of 0.7 mg/L (down from 1.2 mg/L) was considered adequate to prevent dental caries but not cause dental fluorosis.

HHS acknowledged the problem of increasing levels of fluorosis since the 1980s, but noted that most of the fluorosis was mild or “very mild” and defended community water fluoridation as effective in reducing dental caries via community water supplies.

“Fluoride works primarily to prevent dental caries through topical remineralization of tooth surfaces when small amounts of fluoride, specifically in saliva and accumulated plaque, are present frequently in the mouth (Featherstone JDB, 1999). Consuming fluoridated water and beverages and foods prepared or processed with fluoridated water routinely introduces a low concentration of fluoride into the mouth. Although other fluoride-containing products are available and contribute to the prevention and control of dental caries, community water fluoridation has been identified as the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of the community regardless of age, educational attainment, or income level (CDC, 1999, Burt BA, 1989).”

If New York City bans fluoridation it will join a list of cities that have stopped fluoridation, believing it to be either ineffective or dangerous. See that list  here.