By George Pastoric
Many wonderful slogans are used by Water Environment Federation and American Water Works Association chapters throughout North America and Canada, acknowledging the importance of and pledging our love and respect for water.
I’ve worked in the water and wastewater industry as a supplier for more than 30 years, dealing with municipalities and industries, cities, engineers and operations people. I have great respect for everyone in this industry.
There is one practice in our world of water, though, that does not sit right with me and it never has. This is the strange, oppressive, and seemingly unchallengeable federally-driven program that pulls at our heart strings to deliver an improvement to our dental health by mass fluoridating only portions of our population via some, but not all, major municipal water supplies.
In his article “Does artificial fluoridation mean no golden years for the elderly? (ES&E, Sept. 2012), Sheldon Thomas, founder of Clear Water Legacy and a former manager of water distribution for the City of Hamilton, also detailed his concerns on this procedure.
A percentage of readers may now be rolling their eyes, thinking this has all been discussed, but has it? This program was not developed in Canada or for Canadians and, as I see it, does not respect Canadian values, principles, rights and our environment. So how in the world and why in the world did we get into this in the first place?
My extensive research revealed that this controversial program began back in the 1960s. It was driven by Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud and a publicist who wrote a book entitled “Propaganda”. He was known as “the father of public relations” and he felt “manipulation was necessary” as a result of the “herd instinct” that we human beings apparently exhibit.
Sources record that Bernays helped the Aluminum Company of America and other special interest groups to convince the American public that water fluoridation was safe and beneficial to human health. This was achieved by using the American Dental Association in “a highly successful media campaign” to get the program passed in the U.S.
According to Health Canada, 45.1% of Canadians drink fluoridated public water. Canada is one of the most fluoridated countries in the world. In comparison, only 5.7% of the world’s population has their public water supply fluoridated.
We, in the environmental industry, know that if you need to pilot something you do it on a small scale. How did a corporation and special interest groups get multiple countries to just jump and enter into this experiment on their entire populations?
This concept was not enthusiastically embraced by the entire world, however. It was banned in many countries and stopped in others, after no evidence of reduced tooth decay was found.
In 1978, the West German Association of Gas & Water Experts rejected fluoridation for legal reasons and because “the so-called optimal fluoride concentration of 1 mg per L is close to the dose at which long-term damage [to the human body] is to be expected.” Of course 1 mg/l is a concentration or dilution rate, not how much you have ingested on a daily basis. So do you know how much fluoride you have ingested? How do we even know how much fluoride we have in our bodies?
Strangely, when fluoride was imposed on us, our population was not facing a life-threatening situation, and there was no declaration of Martial Law. Yet, we could not opt out and we were silently stripped of our Right to clean water.
Things have changed and it’s not the ’60s anymore, so can we please acknowledge something obvious: toothpaste made the water fluoridation program obsolete.
Why can’t we just accept this and let people be responsible for their own health care? Sadly, this did not happen.
Bags of fluoride, marked poisonous, arrive at water plants and they are mixed into our drinking water. What is that man doing over there, pouring bags of poison into our drinking water? Is he a terrorist? No, that’s our government and they say this is a smart thing to do. And what is in the bags? Is this a pharmaceutical grade additive? Does ALCOA supply this? Can we see the MSDS sheets? How is quality ensured? Is it tested and if so how? Lots of questions arise that should raise concern.
Through this process, our society has also faced another blow, another corruption of words.
Water joined tobacco, as a word that describes something that has ingredients, but has no published ingredients list.
Review of mass balance information
Health Canada suggests that we should all be drinking 2 litres per day of water. In fluoridated areas we fluoridate the entire supply of 329 litres per person per day. Why would we waste so much of an additive? Financially, this shows that for the dollar we spend on fluoridation, we receive about $0.006, or 6/10ths of one cent of the tax dollar “value”, while $0.994 or 99.4 cents of our tax dollar spent on this program is financial waste. Is this typical for any other government program?
The Canadian government considers this program a success. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call it “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.” The World Health Organization considers access to this substance to be a part of the basic human right to life.
These are bold words that sound glorious, but what about the facts? Have cavities been extinct since 1965 then? What about the rights of people who don’t want fluoridated water, legal issues, the pollution, the waste and the controversy?
Only 5.7% of the world’s population has their public water supply fluoridated, and there are protests in every one of these countries by educated people having to fight their own governments. The rest of the world it seems is doing fine without it.
Is polluting our environment safe and effective?
Environmentally, this program uses about 1 part of 150 then wastes the rest needlessly. What kind of people can waste this much? This much waste is pollution, regardless of what it is.
Our bodies absorb an unregulated, unmeasurable amount. We get it by ingestion through drinking prepared water, coffee, tea, juice, beer, wine, etc., anything made using this water. We can’t avoid it when we are watering and washing our vegetables, making foods with water, ice, bathing, showering, etc., and yet we are assured this is “OK”.
Aside from this, the vast majority of this prepared fluoridated water supply goes directly to the environment when we wash our cars, water our lawns, flush our toilets, use it industrially, etc.
To put this into perspective, every year here in Canada the amount of fluoride that we purchase would be almost 52,000 22.68-kg bags, and of this, we end up ingesting about 316 bags per year. The balance of 51,678 of these bags goes directly into our precious environment.
This means we have been putting over 1,000,000 kg of fluoride directly into our environment every year since 1965. That is more than 50,000 metric tons. Is there honestly anyone out there thinking that this is “OK”? When we started this program there was none there except in areas where it occurred naturally.
When we consider fluoride levels in our natural spring waters and this fluoride discharge statistic, what can we expect? If there is fluoride there now, how can we know if it is natural?
Why have the legal, financial and environmental aspects of this program never been part of the open discussion? Who was party to this decision on our behalf? Was there ever an environmental assessment or any consideration of the environment? Would we have said yes to this if we had all of the information to consider beforehand? Should we not have the right to review all the details of this to see if we should continue this at all?
Fluoride – part of the basic human right to life for dental health, or persistent toxic priority pollutant?
Introduced in the late 1980s, the Ontario government’s MISA (Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement) program focused a lot of attention on persistent toxics and priority pollutants. It also set out to accurately qualify and quantify data on discharges so that we could better manage and protect our environment. MISA also listed persistent toxic priority pollutants like arsenic, lead and fluoride. It limited industries’ discharge to a maximum of 1 ppm of arsenic and 1 ppm of lead, but 10 ppm of fluoride.
According to the handbook, Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, fluoride is more poisonous than lead and just slightly less poisonous than arsenic.
Fluoride is a cumulative poison that accumulates in bone over the years. Five grams of fluoride is a lethal dose. The 22.68 kg bags that are delivered to municipal drinking water treatment facilities can each kill 4,536 people.
Wastewater and water plants do not remove fluoride, so a cycle began where we continue to contribute and distribute this persistent toxic material to our environment. There, like in our bodies, it is cumulative. It will be around for a long, long time and it will continue to collect in our environment.
Are we comfortable with these facts, as well as in dumping a persistent toxic into Mother Nature and our sacred fresh water supplies year after year, acting entitled and completely justified in the pursuit of “pretty teeth”? Many doctors are firm in their resolve to see no changes to the program, yet have they ever been aware of all the facts? We are told that this program represents a pinnacle of achievement in health care and we see federal tax dollars at work telling us of this, looking to enforce this program. Why?
The program boasts of reduction of a few cavities per person in a lifetime – a few fillings, which to me might as well just be statistical error. This is not saving the lives of our citizens, yet all citizens are affected when our rights are taken away and we are forced to be exposed to this whether we want it or not, forced to waste tax money at an alarming rate >99% and pollute too! Where is the data showing that this is safe and effective?
Doesn’t the presence of the program seem to present unnecessary impositions and unquantified, unwanted risks?
Not all doctors are so sure of this program. Dr. Peter Mansfield, a physician from the UK and advisory board member of the recent government review of fluoridation (McDonagh et al 2000), has stated:
“No physician in his right senses would prescribe for a person he has never met, whose medical history he does not know, a substance which is intended to create bodily change, with the advice: ‘Take as much as you like, but you will take it for the rest of your life because some children suffer from tooth decay.’ It is a preposterous notion.”
Dr. Dean Burk was an accomplished and accredited American biochemist, medical researcher, and a cancer researcher at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the National Cancer Institute. He became head of the National Cancer Institute’s Cytochemistry Sector in 1938. After retiring from the NCI in 1974, Dr. Burk remained active, devoting himself to his opposition to water fluoridation, after discovering what he claimed was a direct correlation between the rate of cancer increase and the implementation of the fluoride program.
Today, there is increasing concern for lead and other toxic substances, and ingestion limits are changing. It is published that fluoride does not occur naturally in the body, that there are zero uses for fluoride in the body and 180 symptoms of fluoride poisoning. Yet, fluoride is what we feed everyone this program can reach.
If you suffer from one of those 180 symptoms, how likely is it to be addressed successfully if fluoride is not even acknowledged to be a potential source of the problem? “Fluoride”, although it is not one pure substance but an ingredient list we cannot see, seems to be the protected, loved poster child of our dental care program and we see our tax dollars directed to ensure the propaganda on this just keeps going.
Dentists are told and then tell us that fluoride is safe, but did they ever look at all the data? How can this be when the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists states that from birth through six months, babies should not receive any fluoride.
How would baby formulae made from fluoridated water be safe for a baby? How would you bathe them?
While our federal government got us into this situation, it seems we can only get out of it, city by city. However, most city politicians are not able to process this type of information or any arguments without technical back up. In this case they look for guidance to federal officials, who are firm in their insistence on continuing fluoridation.
In 2012, I spoke for clean water and against fluoridation in Hamilton and it proved to be a very strange experience. I had to condense hundreds of hours of research and reasoning into a five minute presentation to council.
After my presentation, the Hamilton health officer offered the reassuring “safe and effective” comment to calm the audience. In response, I asked how 1,000,000 kg of fluoride into our receiving waters per year was “safe.” I did not get an answer. I was then thanked for my time and not asked any questions. A vote was held, but continuing to fluoridate the water was favoured by the majority of council.
I am sorry we started mass fluoridation, but I cannot change this situation by myself. We need a reality check and our rights back. It is my strongest recommendation to all that it is in our best interest to stop financial waste and pollution and to reinstate the sacred value of water and stop treating Mother Nature like a doormat. She is essential to our very lives and it is a sad needless sin to pollute and harm her in this way. What does this say about our society?
Water is perfectly fine. Why can’t common sense prevail? Water did not need any “improvement”. Only in our time, from the 1960s to today, did any portion of society get influenced to believe that it “needed something”, and in the meantime, what does this say about us, and what legacy do we leave on this planet?
Water is sacred. It should never be, never have been compromised and this is not a negotiable. The same goes for our rights.
Would it be appropriate to consider a review of our nation’s sugar consumption history and revisit our national health, fitness and dental care education programs at this time?
If you are concerned about the legal issues, the unnecessary cost, and health and environmental issues fluoridation can cause, you need to raise your voice to educate the public and our leaders and stop this madness. If you, the environmental water industry, won’t or don’t do this at this time, who will? I ask and urge you – this industry – to step up now for all our sakes please.
Isn’t there still just too much controversy to not question the continued mass fluoridation of water in perpetuity?
George S. Pastoric is with Hydro‑Logic Environmental Inc. This editorial comment appears in ES&E Magazine’s June 2018 issue.