The Fluoride Deception:
How Toxic Waste Became
Good For Us

Early in 1997 Regina resident Andrew Seibel began calling for the City to revisit its decision not to fluoridate drinking water. City Council responded that the issue had been put to a referendum four times since 1954, and each time the public rejected this option. Undeterred, Seibel began circulating a petition, hoping to collect enough names to force a plebiscite. Seibel began getting media attention. His message was clear: Fluoride is good for children’s teeth; only the uninformed would oppose fluoridation. The Leader Post’s Mike O’Brien typified media response. He wrote that he was convinced of fluoride’s benefits. However, he did wonder why if people wanted this so badly they didn’t simply fluoridate their own water with fluoride pills? Why medicate the entire water supply? The answer he suggested was that “...many low-income people are unable or unlikely to spend money on the pills. That means the children who would gain the most from fluoridation will go without it.” We therefore had to do it for the sake of poor children’s teeth. This argument caught my attention. The Leader Post was concerned about the fate of poor children’s teeth? What a strange cause to champion. Why not go further and advocate publicly funded food/shelter programs, thus taking care of the whole child? Or press for the redistribution of wealth in society and eradicate poverty? I decided that both this unusual tooth fetish and the seemingly persistent, recurring demand that fluoride be added to the water supply should be further investigated.

Flouride: The Mystery Compound


The media presented the fluoride debate as a contest between those who thought it safe, and others who thought it unsafe. As a citizen newly interested in the issue, I rejected this framework Instead, I proposed my own line of inquiry. I decided that I would start with a very simple question: What is fluoride? I figured that once I knew this I could better decide if I wanted it in my water. I began my inquiries at Regina’s Community Health office. I felt that I was in the right place when I arrived, as there was a poster on the wall stating “Community Water Fluoridation, the #1 Way to Prevent Dental Decay.” I met with the staff dental hygienist and asked her my question. Her response was “What do you mean ‘What is fluoride’?” I said well is it a mineral that is mined, or a gas, or does it come from the ocean, or what? She told me she did not know and suggested that I speak with the pharmacist across the street. The pharmacist did not know either and suggested that I talk to a dentist. The staff at the dental office I visited were equally stumped. I finally called Andrew Seibel. While Seibel was absolutely convinced of the benefits of fluoridating drinking water, he had no idea what fluoride was. “I’m not a chemist”, he told me. Instead he referred me to Doctor Tania Diener, a fluoridation proponent with the Regina District Health Board. He thought she might better answer my “chemistry” questions. Seibel was wrong. Though Doctor Diener was very pleasant and helpful, her answer to my question was “I never thought of that before.” I was intrigued. This sampling of health care professionals and proponents appeared to know little about the compound they wanted in the water supply. I finally ended up at the public library checking out fluorine and fluoride in the science reference texts. The texts revealed that fluorine is a very toxic and reactive gas. It reacts with just about anything to form a variety of fluoride compounds or fluorides, many of which are also toxic and can cause deep and severe burns. More important however is fluoride’s long and intimate connection with heavy industry. For instance, early metal, ceramic and glassworks were limited to materials that would melt at the relatively low temperatures available in old furnace designs. The discovery that a fluoride called fluorspar would cause a variety of other metals, ceramics and glass to melt and flow at these low temperatures was a major technological advance. This advance was so significant that the word fluorine comes from the Latin word fluor, meaning to flow. Today fluorides are widespread and indispensable in a myriad of commercial and industrial applications. It is used in aluminum production; gaseous uranium conversion (Uranium Hexafluoride); household goods (Teflon - polytetrafluoroethylene); pharmaceuticals (Prozac - fluoxetine HCl); and the well-known CFC’s or chlorofluorocarbons, along with many others. In short, modern industry is inconceivable without fluorides. However widespread industrial use has also led to widespread fluoride pollution, a problem existing since the industrial revolution.

Fluoride’s Hidden History

As early as 1850 fluoride emissions from European iron and copper industries poisoned crops, livestock and people. By the turn of the century, consequent lawsuits and burdensome regulations threatened the existence of these industries in Germany and England. They saved themselves by introducing tall smokestacks which reduced damage by dispersing the fluorides and other toxins into the upper air. However, 20th century industrialization rapidly increased fluoride emissions. Even tall stacks could not prevent gross damage for miles around. In 1933 thousands of people became violently ill and 60 people died in Belgium’s Meuse Valley as part of the world’s first major air pollution disaster. Many prominent scientists placed the blame on fluoride. Consequently, many health scientists began to regard fluoride as a poison pure and simple. This, however, was a disaster form industry’s point of view. Any calls for removing fluoride from the environment would significantly cut into their ability to operate and expand. And by the end of the 1930’s industry in North America was planning a spectacular expansion. The advent of World War Two promised economic and military power along with enormous profits. This would necessitate the release of millions of tons of waste fluorides into the environment. The war would also see the expansion of two new industries: Aluminum and chlorofluorocarbons, both significant fluoride polluters. The problem for industry was how to contain public resistance to increased poisoning, deflecting inevitable lawsuits and calls for regulation. Industry’s Disinformation Campaign against the Public Industry’s answer was a well-planned disinformation campaign to overwhelm public resistance. The first step in the campaign was to develop scientific authorities to counter the prevailing view that fluoride pollution was unacceptable. Industry began sponsoring research into the safety of industrial chemicals, notably fluorides. For instance, the University of Cincinnati’s Kettering laboratory was funded largely by top fluoride emitters such as the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). The lab soon became the leader in fluoride safety research. The conclusions drawn from this industry-sponsored research were predictable. By 1939 ALCOA-funded biochemist Gerald J. Cox announced that “the present trend toward complete removal of fluoride from water and food may need some reversal”. Cox went on to state that this apparently worthless by-product had not only been proven safe in low doses, but was actually beneficial. It might also reduce cavities in children’s teeth. His conclusion was based on the work of a U.S. Public Health Service dentist, H. Trendley Dean. Dean’s boss was Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon, a founder and major stockholder of ALCOA In 1931 Dean was dispatched to certain remote towns in the West where drinking wells contained high concentrations of natural fluoride from deep in the earth’s crust. Dean’s mission was to determine how much fluoride people could tolerate without obvious damage to their teeth - a matter of considerable concern to ALCOA. Dean found that teeth in these high-fluoride towns were often discolored and eroded, but he also reported that they appeared to have fewer cavities than average. He cautiously recommended further studies to determine whether lower levels of fluoride in drinking water might reduce cavities without simultaneously damaging bones and teeth, where fluoride settles in humans and other animals. Back at the Mellon Institute, ALCOA’s Pittsburgh industrial research lab, Dean’s news was galvanic. Cox immediately fluoridated some lab rats in a study and concluded that fluoride reduced cavities and that “The case should be regarded as proved”. As a result, Cox’s 1939 announcement contained a proposal to add fluoride to the entire nation’s drinking water. While the dose to each individual would be low, “fluoridation” on a national scale would require the annual addition of 100’s of thousands of tons of fluoride to the nation’s drinking water. In effect, the first public proposal to fluoridate water was not made by a doctor or dentist, but an industry scientist working for a company threatened by fluoride damage claims. And needless to say this proposal was completely aligned with industry and government objectives. After the war, Oscar R. Ewing, a long-time ALCOA lawyer was appointed head of the Federal Security Agency, placing him charge of the Public Health Service. Under him a national water fluoridation campaign materialized spearheaded by the Health Service. Between 1947 and 1950, 87 cities were fluoridated. Edward L. Bernays, the notorious “father of public relations” ran much of the campaign. Fluoridation was to be one of his most stunning and enduring successes. Overnight, fluoride which was being widely sold as rat and bug poison became the beneficial provider of gleaming smiles, absolutely safe and good for children. Today approximately 60% of North American cities have fluoridation programs. So not only does industry pollute with impunity, but municipalities actually pay to have waste placed in their water supplies.

But Is Fluoride Safe and Beneficial For Teeth?

Fluorides at macro levels are clearly toxic. For instance, Moose Jaw adds 9000 Kg of sodium silica fluoride to its drinking water each year (courtesy Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Canada Ltd.). This chemical causes severe burns and must be handled with protective equipment. Lower doses settle in teeth and bones causing mottling, discoloration and disintegration. Fluoridation proponents claim, however, that at low enough doses, 1.0 to 1.2 parts per million, harmful effects disappear and only cavity fighting benefits remain. But even the safety and benefits at these low “optimal” levels are challenged. David R. Hill, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary states,”For every study by promoters over recent years repeating old messages that claim undisputed water fluoridation benefits-particularly reduction of cavities, there are equally reputable studies showing little or not effect on cavity rates. Studies in mainstream peer-reviewed medical journals and government reports now document the fact that serious harms are associated with exposure to small amounts of fluoride-including hip fracture, cancer, and intellectual impairment. There is evidence that both individual and institutional fluoride promoters have stacked the deck, manipulated experimental results, suppressed evidence that spoke against their view, and victimized or smeared those who spoke out against them.” In short, as long as industry relies heavily on fluoride and fluoride pollution, any serious inquiry into its effects on human beings will be attacked, diverted or suppressed. Anything to keep us from seeing and understanding how we’re being poisoned.

Dan Parrott

The author wants to acknowledge Joel Griffiths’ article “Fluoride: Commie Plot or Capitalist Ploy”, CAQ, Fall 1992, No. 42, and David R. Hill’s article “Fluoride: Risks and Benefits?”,  HYPERLINK