I have received a reply - if a rather predictable one - from the Department of Health in response to my letter to Alan Johnson on the 5th of February on the fluoridation of public water supplies in England, reproduced below.
Here is my response. The link to the critique mentioned in the letter can be found at http://www.fluoridealert.org/york-critique.htm
Customer Service Directorate
The Department of Health
21 February 2008
Dear Mr Demitris
Fluoridation of water supplies
Many thanks for your reply to my letter dated 5 February in which you state your department’s position regarding the fluoridation of water in England.
Unfortunately, your comments in no way ameliorate my concerns regarding this initiative.
Although you say that no ill-effects of water fluoridation have been identified in the UK, using the University of York’s review to substantiate that assertion, I would like to draw your attention to the enclosed critique of that review by Paul Connett, PhD which highlights that review's many shortfalls and its exclusion of animal and toxicological studies in its compilation of evidence. (See item 2.8 in that critique).
It is the wider implications and dangers of water fluoridation that concerns me most and appears to be largely absent from the York review. Although the maintenance of 1ppm of fluoride in our drinking water is to be the applied benchmark, its introduction and maintenance at that level will filter through into all our beverages and processed foodstuffs and it is this multiplier effect that is most worrying. 1ppm may not effect those who drink little but will have a much greater effect on those who habitually drink more - tea (which already includes natural levels of fluoride) and beer drinkers for example, or those in heavy manual jobs that need to re-hydrate themselves on a regular basis. Why should they necessarily have to incur the cost of buying bottled water to avoid running the risk of imbibing higher amounts of fluoride?
Since your department’s whole premise for the introduction of fluoride in water supplies is to combat the reduction in tooth decay, then why, as suggested by Nobel Laureate, Dr. Arvid Carlsson, cannot topical treatment be provided. Teeth are easily accessible to such treatment.
I also find it quite amazing that you are pressing ahead with such an initiative when your department admits that it is still instigating further research into the effects of fluoridation. Surely this is the wrong way round. (See 2.5 - 2.7 in critique).
Let me conclude by listing just a few of the scientific developments that have been noted in 2007 regarding concerns over the collateral damage that water fluoridation may and is believed to be responsible for.
1. Impairment of brain development
In 2007 research was conducted in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Mexico and the US all of which strengthened concern previously raised by the US National Research Council the previous year. According to the authors “We found that exposure to F (fluoride) in urine was associated with reduced Performance, Verbal, and Full IQ scores before and after adjusting for confounders. The same pattern was observed for models with F in water as the exposure variable.... The individual effect of F in urine indicated that for each mg increase of F in urine a decrease of 1.7 points in Full IQ might be expected”.
2. Links to skeletal fluorosis
Since the 1930s, the link between too much fluoride intake and stiff and painful joints has been known. Although the symptoms can mimic other forms of arthritis more research is required to establish the true source of such complaints in the knowledge that excess fluoride can be a cause. A lifetime’s intake of fluoridated water and other beverages could be problematic, particularly in the elderly. As one ages the ability of the liver to discharge toxins becomes impaired, thus their greater retention having an increasingly deleterious effect on bones.
3. Silicofluorides may increase lead exposure
Last year, scientists at the University of North Carolina demonstrated that when brass water pipes containing lead were submerged in water simultaneously containing chlorine and fluoride, the leeching effect of the pipe’s lead content was increased causing increased toxification of the water supply. Although the tests were conducted with fluoride added at 2ppm, even at 1ppm - the recommended level - the leeching effect would still be tangible.
4. Fluoridation linked to sperm damage
Subjecting rats to fluoride concentrations of 10ppm have shown to seriously effect their sperm levels. Since rats are particularly resilient to fluoride it is thought that an equivalent human concentration - 2ppm - may affect humans similarly.
5. Effects of fluoride on the pineal gland
Dr Jennifer Luke of the University of Surrey has discovered that the pineal gland is the primary target of fluoride accumulation. "In conclusion, the human pineal gland contains the highest concentration of fluoride in the body. Fluoride is associated with depressed pineal melatonin synthesis by prepubertal gerbils and an accelerated onset of sexual maturation in the female gerbil. The results strengthen the hypothesis that the pineal has a role in the timing of the onset of puberty. Whether or not fluoride interferes with pineal function in humans requires further investigation."
These are just some of the many areas in which further research is needed. Is it worth subjecting whole populations to these possible, and in some cases, very likely ill-effects for the sake of a small minority of society who cannot, or will not, engage in basic human hygiene?
I believe that it should be the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children look after their teeth without resorting to a state recommendation that everyone should have their water fluoridated.
Until there is a sound and honest verdict given, based on rational and scientific evaluation of the benefits and dis-benefits of fluoride in our water supplies, I believe that any further moves to fluoridate them should be suspended.