Quick Answers to Typical Anti-fluoridation Arguments

I know I repeat myself a lot in my articles on water fluoridation. I do so because the anti-fluoridation activists have proven themselves unable or at the least unwilling to look into references that may seriously challenge their position. Ultimately, they have also shown the same resistance towards completely reading an article or even watching a video of a mere few minutes in length, however I have found it more defensible to at least include everything.

From now on, I’ll instead link to arguments I’ve added to a new page (“Anti-Fluoridation Arguments” above). I hope to develop it further so that it is a good reference point to challenge the typical unsubstantiated anti-fluoride nonsense that proliferates the Internet. This will allow me to cut word length down and hopefully force such activists to rely on better arguments (or admit that they have none). I’ve embedded anchors so that others can link to direct arguments also.


Fluoridation chemicals are…

 “…Industrial waste”

The most common fluoride chemical used is hexafluorosilicic acid, with the compound formula H2SiF6, which can be obtained from other industrial processes. One can hardly call it a waste product if it is of commercial value and so a more correct name would be a by-product (please read on prior to concluding that the commercial value is based on “spin”). Waste also is used because it people generally think of waste as dirty, however this is a refined chemical, not a loaf of bread or chunk of ham left out in the sun.

For instance, sodium chloride, or table salt, can be refined from the ocean, a dry salt lake or even urine. Regardless where one extracts it, it remains sodium chloride. The same is true of hexafluorosilicic acid.

“…Not pharmaceutical grade”

The level of refinement is also the difference between whether it is pharmaceutical grade or not. In the case of the fluoridation chemicals, they not as refined as that used in toothpaste, however they have undergone chemical analysis and the amount of impurities are known and listed on the label.

These impurities are in very low quantities and when the fluoridation chemicals are added to water, these impurities dilute to miniscule levels. For instance, many of the impurities will make up less than 10mg of 1kg of the formula. This is diluted down to 1 part per million, meaning that any impurities are diluted down to less than 10 parts per billion.

“…Unnatural” or “toxic”

Is everything natural good for us? Venom is natural. Arsenic and asbestos are equally natural and obtainable from the environment. I could go on.

On the other hand, vaccines and medicines, while resulting from biological science, are typically compounds not found in nature. These chemicals improve our lives immensely.

More importantly, when the fluoridation chemicals are added to the water, they break down to ionic fluoride and silica sand. Both are common, naturally occurring and in the concentrations used, the fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay beyond that seen in communities without that additional fluoride exposure. The World Health Organisation deem it safe, cheap and effective when supplied at ~1ppm.

Hexafluorosilicic acid can be thought of as the compound packaged for transit which breaks down quickly and entirely to natural, non-toxic chemicals in water.

“The fluoridation chemicals come from China”

So what? Check the tag on any item of clothing you’re currently wearing or turn over most of your household items to find the majority will state “Made in China”.

Incidentally, that “Made in China” is a receipt from China for a parcel of smog that hangs over any one of their large industrial cities today. The Chinese smog and rising carbon footprint is as much the result of commercial activity on the other side of the world as it is internally.

More to the point; all fluoride compounds are tested prior to use in Australia. From SA sources, I have been able to find details of the Dept of Health guidelines and safety practices which rely upon NATA accredited laboratory analytical testing of the compounds.

This argument relies on xenophobia and racism over reason and evidence.

“Fluoridation leads to 25% of children developing fluorosis, which will affect their appearance and self-esteem.”

This value is often quoted by members of the Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and food Inc. and is based upon the 2007 NSW Dental Health Survey. The report itself states that “[m]ore than 97% of 8 to 12 year old children do not display any discernible signs of fluorosis” and thus the additional 22% of the quoted value comes from the table on page 29 by adding up all cases where the Thylstrup and Felerskov index (TF) was >0.

It is questionable how this could be deemed as detrimental to a child’s mental health when the bulk of these cases are mild at best.

Moreover, if one cares to read the actual report, one finds that in non-fluoridated areas, the prevalence of fluorosis with a TF >0 is 16.8%. If this can be considered the “background” levels of fluorosis we are left with only an additional 8% of children developing fluorosis of any level due to fluoridated water.

That the report states an agreement between assessors of about 82% (page 7), one should be even more cautious with their confidence in such small difference between groups with such a comparatively large margin of error.

“Fluoridation of drinking water leads to increased rates of osteosarcoma.”

This is based entirely upon a study by Bassin et al (2006). Within the paper itself, the authors stress a number of potential confounders and biases. They admit the study to be an exploratory analysis and urge for future work to either confirm or refute the findings of the study.

The confidence expressed within the study in no way mirrors that of the anti-fluoridation advocates when they hold up the study as evidence. With the paper now in press for 7yrs, one would have expected anti-fluoride advocates to have other studies that support the claim of Bassin et al (2006)  to wave around as evidence of a relationship between fluoridation and osteosarcoma. The silence here speaks volumes.

While it is likely that such a basic analysis to have many confounders, one can look at the rates of osteosarcoma across Australia prior to Queensland adding fluoride to most of the community drinking water to see if there is any hint of relationship worth pursuing. I did this and found that Queensland had the highest average rates of osteosarcoma (0.35%) shared with South Australia (SA had the highest rate for one gender, of 0.5% in males).

“I  have (or; someone that I know has) experienced symptoms from exposure to fluoridated water”

This is known as anecdotal evidence. Typically the individual states that they (or someone that they know) experienced some symptoms when they were exposed to fluoride and where able to test this but eliminating fluoride exposure to “prove” the case.

Merilyn Haines, President of the Queenslanders for Safe Water, Food and Air inc. provides anecdotal evidence to support her claims regarding fluoridation of drinking water with the case of her sister moving to Townsville. Her claim hinges on a complete disregard for potential confounders that could arise from the 800 km move to a different city and the fact that her sister had clearly been exposed to fluoride over her entire life through toothpaste and foods without experiencing symptoms.

Anecdotal evidence is the crux of the claims for many positions, such as anti-vaccination, whereby the MMR vaccine is supposed to cause autism, anti-wind farm, whereby exposure to wind farms has supposedly caused everything from irritability and low libido, to herpes, cataracts and accelerated aging!

With fluoridated drinking water, Lamberg et al (1997) looked at the symptoms people stated they experienced due to exposure while they were exposed to fluoridated water and after fluoridation stopped (with the subjects unaware of this). The rates of symptoms did not significantly change until after the expected end of fluoridation, not with the actual event itself, leading the researchers to conclude that the supposed symptoms were psychologically based and not related to actual exposure to fluoridated water.

Anecdotal evidence for this reason is not sufficient and when others rely on it as evidence, the alarm bells should ring.

Each of these comes down to irrelevance and/or pure fantasy, designed to provoke fear over rational reasoning.

Misleading: Is Merilyn Haines the Innocent Casting Stones?

Once again, I’ve noticed a spike in the traffic to NewAnthro due to searches on Merilyn Haines and fluoridation. A quick search shows that the anti-fluoride crusaders are blowing their own trumpet over their successes so far this year in denying children additional protection to give their teeth the best chance of surviving a life time of service, not unlike the anti-vax crowd whom high-five one another when another parent chooses to expose their children to polio, measles mumps and rubella, various forms of hepatitis etc.

Further, I found that yesterday, Merilyn Haines was interviewed alongside Dr Michael Foley whom is not only a dentist, but also a former president of the ADA. I’m certain she walked away feeling she had done her cause justice, but anyone unblinkered on the subject could see that she was owned.

One needs only a single Merilyn quote from the interview; “It’s a bit misleading to say that it’s [fluoride] is natural”

So who is misleading?

    • Firstly, I’ve made the point before that you can extract sodium chloride (commonly known as table salt) from many sources; including the ocean and even your own urine! If you extract it well, it remains simply table salt – “industrial waste” is misleading.
    • Dr Foley reminds her that the fluorides used break down to the same ions and molecules found already in the water supply, but lead to a small increase in fluoride levels, which has been proven to increase dental health – Merilyn stating that the raw material prior to being added to the water is a “poison” is misleading.
    • Merilyn states that the fluorides used are allowed to include as much as 600 mg of lead per kilo. Firstly, that doesn’t mean that they do have that much. Secondly, 600 mg is 0.6 % of the mixture; this mixture is then diluted down to 1 part per million, thus such a water supply may have as much as 6 parts of lead per billion! I could understand if the fans of homeopathy may faint at such “high” concentrations, but for everyone else, she is overstating the exposure to lead which of course is misleading.
    • That she instead points to other trace chemicals found in the fluoride mixtures when asked about poisons is, in itself, misleading; if the fluorides are as bad as she states, no bait-and-switch would be required.
    • Merilyn argues that the study comparing tooth decay in Townsville children (fluoridated water supply) to Brisbane children (not fluoridated water supply) showed no significant difference in decay of permanent teeth. However, the children were aged between 5 to 12 years, with permanent teeth only starting to appear at the higher end of this study group, thus not having much exposure time to potential decay. Focusing on adult tooth decay in children, Merilyn, is misleading.
    • Merilyn refers to the 2007 NSW Dental Health Survey to support her case. She states that 25% of children had dental fluorosis. The report on the other hand states, “More than 97% of 8 to 12 year old children do not display any discernible signs of fluorosis.”
      Actually looking at the report, at best, she can only claim that fluoridation increases rates colouration of teeth on any level by 8%, however with the level of agreement between assessors and what is fluorosis and what is not, any more than the 3% is dubious (more here).
      The same report also states, “For all ages, only 40% of children from non-fluoridated areas, compared with 53% of children from  fluoridated areas were caries free
      Merilyn’s representation of the report is misleading.
    • Merilyn points to her access to good information, however, my previous articles and videos on fluoride would argue that this too is misleading. She refers often to bad sources or misrepresents the study, such as;
    • Merilyn, while not naming the paper, refers again to osteosarcoma. This relates to the Bassin et al (2006) which I have previously shown that the researchers involved do not agree with her conclusions, thus she again is misleading.

Merilyn’s “facts”

Dr Foley retorts at one point, “Merilyn, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts”.

The fact is, Merilyn needs to ignore the science and those who challenge her to maintain an erroneous position and her success is base purely upon misleading others over and over again until the scaremongering pulls them in line. There’s no surprise as to why Queensland has a number councils rejecting fluoridation when they have Queenslanders for “Safe” Water, Air and Food to deal with.

Find my previous articles on the subject here.

To Journalists Reporting on Fluoride in Qld

I’m certain that journalists reporting upon the current changes in behaviour regarding the use of fluoride in drinking water will search online for relevant media and I hope that I attract a couple of them.

I’ve produced a number of articles and a couple videos on the subject, which I hope will make your work as a journalist, easier.

Firstly, I don’t care either way about the use of fluoride. My position is that it seems to work, is cheap and safe based entirely upon the available scientific literature. If that changes, so be it. Yet I’m surprised that forty years of exposure in many of our capital cities has failed to demonstrate a collapse of populations…

Anyway, the content I have, I hope both illustrates typical flaws used by the anti-fluoride enthusiasts which can be used by any good journalist to keep them honest and accountable. It also brings to light evidence of a pseudo-effect (people thinking they’re sick from fluoridated water when in fact, they didn’t have it) etc.

I especially hope this content finds a journalist whom is lucky enough to interview Merilyn Haines and the Queenslanders for Safe Water, Air and Food, simply because this group pretends to champion the science, while instead they insist the that the science doesn’t exist when it doesn’t support their view and inflate any potential argument in their favour even when the researchers involved simply don’t make such a point.

Please feel free to look through the my replies to the general anti-fluoridation arguments or I hope the content listed below is of value (oldest to newest).

Tooth Decay = Brain Decay: The Real Myth Behind Fluoride

A Look at Water Fluoridation Across Different Communities

Reply To Merilyn Haines: Fluoride and How Science Doesn’t Match the Doubt

Fluorosis and Fluoride Induced Stupidity: The Scourge That Does Not Exist

The Cavities in the anti-Fluoride Movement: Further Proof Never to Take “Evidence” at Face Value

The Insulated Ideology of QAWF and Merilyn Haines

Merilyn Haines in Interview

Dear Anti-Fluoridated Water Enthusiast

Misleading: Is Merilyn Haines the Innocent Casting Stones?

Osteosarcoma rates in Australia: Is Fluoridation Doing Us Harm?

How Not to Argue in Favour of Environments: Water Fluoridation in Portland

Fluoridation, Arsenic and the Rates of Cancer in Australia

The National Institutes of Health funded study found no relation between tooth decay and the amount of fluoride ingested by children

Dead-Head Denialism: Challenging “Sceptics” of Climate Change to Fluoridation is Zombie Warfare

Portland Votes for Dark Age Myth: An illustration of the potency of anti-science in the modern “enlightened” world

The war on water fluoridation in Queensland is relentless

The Fluoridated Hydrangeas of Rockhampton

Merilyn Haines in Interview

Believe it or not, I’ve been working on this for about a week. Sorry that the audio isn’t so great in some parts. I’ve upgraded my equipment and shouldn’t have this problem in the future. For the credits, please click the video to go to the YouTube page, where the credits and links to the papers are listed in the comments section.


For all the articles I have on water fluoridation, click here.