Dr. Mercola Interviews the Experts
This article is part of a weekly series in which Dr. Mercola interviews various experts on a variety of health issues. To see more expert interviews, click here.
As every year during our annual Fluoride Awareness Week, Fluoride Action Network (FAN) founder Dr. Paul Connett is here to provide us with a progress update. FAN has been instrumental in reducing fluoride exposure in North America and in many countries throughout the world over the past 20 years.
As in previous years, we ask that you consider donating to this worthy organization that is spearheading the daunting task of eliminating water fluoridation around the world. As usual, Mercola.com will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 during Fluoride Awareness Week.
Fluoride Lowers Children’s IQ
From the very beginning, one of Connett’s driving concerns was the possibility that fluoride might be lowering children’s IQ.
“Two Chinese studies were published in 1995 and 1996, in English. I was very concerned, and felt strongly that if there was any evidence that fluoride lowered intelligence of children, then there’s no way you would put benefits to teeth above that and continue water fluoridation,” Connett says.
Ten years later, in 2006, the National Research Council looked at the toxicology of fluoride.1 At that time, there were six IQ studies and, based on those six studies along with many animal studies, the NRC concluded that fluoride did in fact pose a threat to the brain. By 2008, there were 18 such studies.
In 2012, a distinguished team, partly from Harvard University, did a review2 of 27 IQ studies; 25 from China and two from Iran. Strikingly, 26 of the studies showed children with higher fluoride exposure had lower IQ than the children with lower fluoride exposure.
“The bombshell came in 2017. Up to that point, we had about 60 studies that had shown a lowering of IQ, most of them from China, but also some from India, some from Iran, some from Mexico,” Connett says.
US-Funded Study Confirms Decades’ Long Suspicions
The bombshell study3,4 Connett refers to, known as the “Bashash study” (named after the lead author, Morteza Bashash, Ph.D.), was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency.
It followed pregnant women and their babies for 12 years. They measured the fluoride in their urine, which reveals total exposure, regardless of the source or sources, and they found a strong relationship between the fluoride level in mothers’ urine and IQ scores in their children at the ages of 4, and between 6 and 12.
It’s important to realize that it’s not the concentration of fluoride in the water (measured in mg per liter) that is significant for health. What matters is the dose you get in milligrams per day, and the dosage (mg/day divided by the individual’s body weight), and these depend on a variety of fluctuating factors.
“The NIH is a parent of the Public Health Service, so they’ve been promoting fluoride for years and years (since 1950). So, I believe they put a lot of money into this study thinking that it would prove, once and for all, that crazy people like me and others were absolutely wrong about the notion that fluoride lowers IQ in children.
But lo and behold, they gave us very, very strong evidence that it is. And that the most susceptible age, as far as fluoride’s impact on the brain, is during fetal development.
It turns out the placenta does not protect the fetus from fluoride, and, as you know, up to about six months of age, the blood-brain barrier is not fully formed in the baby. So, the fetus is very susceptible to this impact of fluoride.”
The first response of the American Dental Association was that the findings didn’t apply to the United States, since it was done in Mexico City. However, this ignored the fact that human beings are human beings, by measuring fluoride in the urine they had a measure of total exposure, regardless of the source. It really doesn’t matter if the fluoride comes from water, other beverages, food or toothpaste.
Canadian Researchers Confirm ‘Bombshell’ Results
In 2019, the NIH study was replicated in Canada,5 and they too found that higher fluoride levels in maternal urine were associated with lower IQ in their offspring. The only major difference was that based on maternal urine levels only boys appeared to be affected, not the girls. But when the mothers’ fluoride exposure was calculated from ingestion (i.e. from food and beverages) there was a relationship between that and the children’s IQ for both boys and girls,
“Now, this study, unlike the first one, the Bashash study, got a certain amount of coverage,” Connett says. “[It] was published in the journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics. That’s one of the major pediatrics journals in the world, and the editors of this journal went to extreme lengths.
They knew this was controversial. Hats off for them to take it on. They knew it was going to be consequential, so they doubled up on the peer review process, they double checked the statistics, so they were confident when they launched it. They even ran an editorial saying the steps they’d taken.
They had two of their editors, the editor of JAMA in total and the editor of JAMA Pediatrics did a 20-minute podcast explaining how astounding the results were. They said, ‘Oh, we had no idea that fluoride caused any problems to health.’ I don’t know what they’d been reading. But anyway … it was a bombshell for them to suddenly find that fluoride could be damaging the brain of the fetus.
They also ran an editorial from David Bellinger, one of the world’s experts on lead’s neurotoxicity, and he said ‘The measurements here are akin to what’s happening with lead.’ In other words, it’s very, very serious, and that got a lot of coverage around the world.
But the other side was organized and they quickly got some ‘experts’ — none of them actually experts on fluoride or toxicology or neurotoxicity — who said all the right things to dampen people’s concern about this study.”
Two Other Important Studies
“There are four studies that people need to know about,” Connett says. To learn more about each, see Connett’s video commentaries on FluorideALERT.org FAN.tv page. Aside from the two already mentioned, the two other ones are:
- The Riddell study, published in 2019, found a nearly 300% increase in ADHD prevalence in adolescents in Canadian communities with fluoridated water supplies, compared to those living in non-fluoridated communities. “Science never stops,” Connett says. “You have to entertain the notion that an ugly fact can destroy a beautiful theory, in this particular case, we got a lot of ugly facts, but the big one is the fact that fluoride could damage children’s brains.”
- The Till study, which compared the IQ of children who had been bottle fed as babies in fluoridated communities (and thus would have gotten fluoridated water in their formula) versus non-fluoridated communities. Here, they found a large IQ difference.
FAN Lawsuit Against EPA on Fluoride Underway
November 22, 2016, a coalition including FAN, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation and several individuals, filed a petition6,7 calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to U.S. drinking water under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
As explained by Connett, the TSCA allows citizens and nongovernmental organizations to petition the EPA to remove toxic substances found to pose a threat (an unreasonable risk) either to the general population or a subset of that population.
The petition was made on the grounds that a large body of research demonstrates fluoride is neurotoxic at doses within the range now seen in fluoridated communities, and included over 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing these health risks.
The EPA denied the petition8 February 27, 2017, on the grounds that it had failed to present “a scientifically defensible basis” to conclude that anyone had in fact suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of fluoride exposure. In response, FAN and its coalition partners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, legally challenging the EPA’s denial of their petition.
This interview was taped June 2, 2020. FAN was scheduled to begin arguments in front of a judge June 8. FAN will explain the neurotoxicity of fluoride shown in these and other studies, and then the EPA’s industry experts, paid consultants who have also defended glyphosate and other toxins, will present their evidence. (see FAN’s web site FluorideAlert.org for a summary of the trial)
“But we have, for our lawsuit … some of the leading experts on neurotoxicity in the world,” Connett says, “including a couple that were involved in the studies I’ve been talking about.” That includes Bruce Lanphear, the EPA’s go-to person for information about the neurotoxicity of lead. Lanphear worked with Till on the JAMA Pediatrics article and the bottle feeding study listed above. Howard Hu, lead author of the Bashash study, is another expert FAN witness, as is Philippe Grandjean.
“I am very optimistic. [The EPA] doesn’t have the science. We do. And not only do we have the science, but we have some of the world’s best experts testifying for us. So, unless these crafty lawyers for the EPA are able to muddy the waters, I think we’ll have no trouble in demonstrating three things: One, that the preponderance of evidence that fluoride is neurotoxic is overwhelming.
Second, that it is a risk at the levels at which we add fluoride to the water. And thirdly, it’s an unreasonable risk. Because even if your number one focus was reducing tooth decay, there are other ways of delivering fluoride, instead of this ridiculous notion of putting it in the drinking water and forcing it on your whole population.
I think we can demonstrate those three things. And I’m happy to tell you that my son, who started our webpage in 2000 and developed the largest health database in the world, bigger than other fluoridating governments, by the way, is going to be the lawyer fighting this case,” Connett says.
You can now view the transcript of Michael Connett’s brilliant summary statement
The End of Water Fluoridation Is Inevitable
If victorious, the EPA will likely appeal, as this is a classic stall tactic. “There’s no agency in the United States that is better at dragging its feet on controversial issues,” Connett says.
“They dragged their feet for over 18 years on the reassessment of dioxin, an issue I was very close to, and they still didn’t resolve the issue. They’re very subject to industry pressure, and their way of resolving issues is just delay, delay, delay.
But, I do believe that if a federal court, having heard both sides, declares that fluoride poses an unnecessary risk, an unreasonable risk to the developing brain of our children, that that news will ricochet around the fluoridating world — Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, and a few other countries where they still fluoridate. It’s going to have a huge impact.
And I think the citizens will be able to use this as ammunition to say to their health departments, ‘Come on. Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this when you’ve got this scientific information … done by top notch scientists. Why on earth would you continue this practice when you know that if you want fluoride, you can simply brush it on your teeth and spit it out. What is your rationale for continuing this?
By the same token, to the professional bodies, to the AMA, the ADA, the APHA and all those other organizations that have endorsed fluoridation for years and years and years, why would you continue to support this? Why would you reveal to the public that you have no scientific credibility?
That you don’t read the science, that you don’t keep up with the science on an issue like this? When you’re going to the public and saying again and again and again that fluoridation is safe and effective, when you’ve got this evidence right there in front of you?
One more thing … Possibly the most important agency for reviewing the toxicology of toxic substances is the National Toxicology Program (NTP). Back in 2016, FAN asked the NTP to do a systematic review of the neurotoxicity of fluoride. This was before the court case and before we went to court.
After three and a half years they came back, having reviewed all the animal data and the human data, and in their draft they said, ‘Based upon the literature, the presumption is that fluoride is a neurotoxic substance. Based upon studies done on children in several different countries, the presumption is that it is neurotoxic.’
Not that it’s definite; but you would have to presume, based upon all the literature, that this is a neurotoxic substance. So, that’s a huge vindication for our case. But, because it’s a draft and not a final version, we can’t actually use it in the court case. Still, this is very useful for us going forward, in addition to whatever the court rules.”
Ending Water Fluoridation Still Met With Strong Resistance
While FAN has successfully ended water fluoridation in many areas, it’s still very difficult. One of the reasons for this is because those who want it to continue always point to reviews by government agencies “which, as bogus as they are and unscientific as they are, carry a lot of weight,” Connett says.
In Ireland, they refer to the expert committee. In New Zealand, they refer to the ministry of health and in Australia to the National Health and Medical Research Council. In the United States, they refer to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
All of these agencies have promoted water fluoridation and are not good judges of whether there are problems or not. Hopefully, a court win against the EPA will facilitate and speed up the process of getting fluoride out of drinking water. A win would also set another important precedent:
“We’ve been able to bring this to court under the Toxic Substances and Control Act, which has a clause [stating] that any group or individual can petition the EPA to remove, to ban, any particular use of a particular chemical in the United States if they can show it’s an unreasonable risk to the population, or even a subset of the population.
We … along with Food & Water Watch are the first groups to ever do this. So, it’s establishing a very important precedent, which is really worrying the chemical industry. It’s a big concern of ours, because behind the scenes I’m sure they’re trying to muddy the waters in every way they can. But it’s a huge precedent. I hope that our victory will also shoot adrenaline into the veins of all these other [health safety] groups …”
Another Fluoride-Related Issue To Be Tackled
In our interview, Connett also discusses the fluoride pollution released during recycling of lithium ion batteries, such as those used in electric cars. Lithium ion batteries contain fluorinated polymers like polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) and an electrolyte called lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6).
When heated during the recycling process, these fluorinated compounds break down to produce hydrogen fluoride, and many fluorinated byproducts which are toxic and difficult to capture. Like PFOS, these chemicals stick around for so long they’re known as “forever chemicals.”
As it happens, a lithium ion battery incinerator is being built near Connett’s home, across the road from a residential area and adjacent to a little league baseball field. “It is an absolutely insane, unethical siting,” Connett says, noting that there really is no safe place for such facilities. It’s the recycling process itself that needs to be modified, which is what Connett is fighting for now.
“What this has done is fortuitous. It has brought together nearly all the strands of our activism. I’ve had 35 years fighting incineration and dioxins [and] 24 years fighting fluoridation. Now we’re meeting hydrogen fluoride and fluorinated by-products in spades. At the very least the problem will be: What do you do with the sodium fluoride that’s left over in the effluent, the waste water?
I hope someone doesn’t suggest putting it in the drinking water. Because also in that waste water you’ll have a PFAS, a polyfluorinated alkyl substance (used in some of the batteries), and my wife has spent many, many years maintaining a database on these PFAS … She’s been concerned with that for a long time. So, we’ve been able to draw on three different strands of our activism to help our local community.”
Avoid Fluoride to Optimize Your Health
Eliminating water fluoridation will go a long way toward protecting the health of all people, but especially children. Sacrificing children’s brain function for a theoretical benefit of less tooth decay is unconscionable.
Aside from making sure you do not drink fluoridated water, or use fluoridated water to mix infant formula, to reduce your exposure, avoid drinking excessive amounts of tea, which tends to be high in fluoride.
“Mix it up,” Connett says. “If you must drink tea, then drink tea, drink coffee, drink herbal tea. Mix it around. Not too much tea. Also, avoid animal bones. Don’t eat the bones from sardines and pilchards. Don’t eat the bones from chicken. Avoid mechanically deboned meat.”
Call to Action — Donate Today!
Again, for more details on the four studies Connett highlights in this interview, see his video commentaries on FAN.tv page. There you can also find a webinar lecture by FAN’s senior scientist, Chris Neurath, in which he explains the neurotoxicity of fluoride. To help spread the word, you can print out a FAN pamphlet to share with family, friends and local community bulletin boards.
In closing, if you’re concerned about the health effects of fluoride, please support FAN with your tax-deductible donation today. Mercola.com will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 during Fluoride Awareness Week.