Denver could be largest US city to end fluoridation of public water as activists force debate
The adminstrative board for Denver Water is hosting a special forum Wednesday to discuss the harmful effects of mass fluoridation of the city’s public water supply after continued pressure from local activists.
The Colorado chapter of activist group We Are Change has spent almost all of 2015 continuously challenging the Denver Board of Water Commissioners to debate the safety of artificial water fluoridation.
The forum will feature an expert debate with panel of three experts representing both sides of the issue. The special event forum has been scheduled since the monthly board meeting in May after activists from We Are Change continued to raise the issue during public comment sessions.
If the campaign is successful, Denver would become the biggest metro area in America to reject water fluoridation, surpassing Portland, Oregon who voted against a plan to begin the process.
Denver Water notes that its service regularly provides water to over 1.3 million people in the city of Denver and many surrounding suburbs. By some estimates, over 3 million people are present in the metro area on a daily basis, including commuters and tourists.
The forum follows recent news that Snowmass, a town in the wealthy ski resort area of Colorado, decided to stop fluoridating its water after similar concerns.
A special broadcast has been organized for members of the public to watch a live stream of the proceedings.
The persistence of We Are Change Colorado essentially forced the debate of the issue after months of the activists attending the public board meetings. During the May meeting, the commissioners and specifically President H. Gregory Austin noted that the issue of fluoridation should not be addressed further during public comment periods as the special forum had been scheduled for that purpose.
We Are Change Colorado members began attending Denver Water Board meetings in 2008, making headlines in 2011. Members have attended every monthly Water Board meeting since February of this year, and after a few months of hearing the facts, Denver Water announced they would host a forum with expert debate.
Professor Dr. Paul Connett, PhD, Director of Fluoride Action Network and author of The Case Against Fluoride, will be leading the opposition of current fluoridation practices. He will be joined by Dr. Jeremy Widmann, PhD, an expert in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, and Cathy Justus, a popular fluoride activist and horse breeder who led the successful campaign to stop fluoridation practices in Pagosa Springs, CO. Justus was featured in the short documentary “Poised Horses” which draws the connection between water fluoridation practices and her dying horses.
The panel of experts supporting current water fluoridation practices will be led by William Bailey, PhD, former Director of the Center for Disease Control’s Division of Oral Health. He will be joined by Katya Mauritson, DMD, current Colorado State Dental Director, and Brett Kessler, DDS and past President of the Colorado Dental Association.
The discussion of fluoride added to public water supplies is confusing to some as fluoride compounds are found naturally in many areas as a result of environmental cycles.
The issue to be debated is the addition of artificial fluoride compounds to raise the level for water supplies that do not meet the minimum target range of 0.7 – 1.2 mg/L, levels recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The reason the issue is termed “conspiracy theory” is because of fluoride’s natural occurrence. The artificial compounds added to public water are often by-products of industrial waste, usually hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA) or a derivative sodium salts classed as silicofluorides. These compounds are not only toxic because fluoride is shown to be a neurotoxin, affecting the brain, but also usually contains heavy metals such as arsenic and lead.
Inquiries by We Are Change Colorado revealed that Denver Water in fact adds sodium fluorosilicate and fluorosilicic acid to supplement the naturally occurring fluoride. Denver Water consistently states that it only adds fluoride where the testing levels are shown to be below the low end of the 0.7 mg/L guideline. The agency chooses to emphasize that it does not add much to the water but publicly available documents show that some areas of the water supply require significant fluoridation.
Denver Water used to document the amount of fluoride derivatives added to the water at different testing sites in annual Treated Water Quality Reports, however those more detailed reports stopped being publicly available after the 2013 report.
Denver’s water supply is seen below in images from Denver Water and listed below are charts showing the significant differences at 3 different water treatment sites.
The Foothills location shows high levels of natural fluoride while 2 others show significant levels of added fluoride.
The effects on the brain have increasingly been documented, highlighted by a 2012 Harvard study showing negative effects on development of children, linking fluoride to “significantly lower” IQ scores.
This should not be a surprising effect as sodium fluoride derivatives are often used in rodent and insect poisons because of its neurotoxic effects. The fluoride derivatives are also effective at carrying other harmful compounds through the body and to the brain because of fluoride’s chemical structure being favorable to bonding.
Mass fluoridation of water supplies began in the 1950’s as it has been claimed that it prevents tooth decay and cavities but studies have increasingly shown that too much fluoride can lead to health problems like dental fluorosis, which weakens teeth, enamel and results in discoloration in many cases, the opposite of the program’s goal. There is also the issue of skeletal fluorosis, a bone disease caused by excessive fluoride accumulation in the bones which can cause pain and damage to bones and joints.
Fluoride Action Network
Fluoride is a highly toxic substance. Consider, for example, the poison warning that the FDA now requires on all fluoride toothpastes sold in the U.S. or the tens of millions of people throughout China and India who now suffer serious crippling bone diseases from drinking water with elevated levels of fluoride.
In terms of acute toxicity (i.e., the dose that can cause immediate toxic consequences), fluoride is more toxic than lead, but slightly less toxic than arsenic. This is why fluoride has long been used in rodenticides and pesticides to kill pests like rats and insects. It is also why accidents involving over-ingestion of fluoridated dental products–including fluoride gels, fluoride supplements, and fluoridated water–can cause serious poisoning incidents, including death.
There are many other effects on the body that have been studied in lesser capacity, many are listed on the Fluoride Action Network website.
The Centers for Disease Control even note on their website that fluoride can cause health problems, specifically detailing fluorosis problems caused by excessive fluoride as it is difficult for Americans to determine the amount of fluoride ingested.
The proper amount of fluoride helps prevent and control tooth decay in children and adults. Fluoride works both while the teeth are developing and every day after the teeth have emerged through the gums. Fluoride consumed during tooth development can also result in a range of visible changes to the enamel surface of the tooth. These changes have been broadly termed dental fluorosis, or dental fluorosis.
What is dental fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. These changes can vary from barely noticeable white spots in mild forms to staining and pitting in the more severe forms. Dental fluorosis only occurs when younger children consume too much fluoride, from any source, over long periods when teeth are developing under the gums.
Who develops dental fluorosis?
Only children aged 8 years and younger can develop dental fluorosis because this is when permanent teeth are developing under the gums.
- Once the teeth erupt through the gums and are in the mouth, they can no longer develop fluorosis.
- The teeth of children older than 8 years, adolescents, and adults cannot develop dental fluorosis.
What does dental fluorosis look like?
- Very mild and mild forms of dental fluorosis—teeth have scattered white flecks, occasional white spots, frosty edges, or fine, lacy chalk-like lines. These changes are barely noticeable and difficult to see except by a dental health care professional.
- Moderate and severe forms of dental fluorosis—teeth have larger white spots and, in the rare, severe form, rough, pitted surfaces.
What causes dental fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is caused by taking in too much fluoride over a long period when the teeth are forming under the gums. Only children aged 8 years and younger are at risk because this is when permanent teeth are developing under the gums. The severity of the condition depends on the dose (how much), duration (how long), and timing (when consumed) of fluoride intake.
Increases in the occurrence of mostly mild dental fluorosis were recognized as more sources of fluoride became available to prevent tooth decay. These sources include drinking water with fluoride, fluoride toothpaste—especially if swallowed by young children—and dietary prescription supplements in tablets or drops (particularly if prescribed to children already drinking fluoridated water).
What are the common sources of fluoride?
- Toothpaste (if swallowed by young children).
- Drinking water in fluoridated communities.
- Beverages and food processed with fluoridated water.
- Dietary prescription supplements that include fluoride (e.g., tablets or drops).
- Other professional dental products (e.g., mouth rinses, gels, and foams).