By The Fluoride Action Network
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “there are profound and consequential disparities in the oral health of our citizens…” that have resulted in a “silent epidemic” of dental and oral diseases that disproportionately affects low-income and minority populations1.
Unfortunately, not only are these groups afflicted with worse dental health, but are also suffering more extensively from the public health measure carried out under the guise of improving oral health: water fluoridation.
The Environmental Injustice of Water Fluoridation
One of the goals of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and particularly of its administrator Lisa Jackson, is achieving Environmental Justice for all Americans. According to the EPA (2011):
“Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation.
It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
Unfortunately, the agencies and associations that continue to promote artificial water fluoridation – including the EPA’s Office of Water, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Oral Health Division, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the American Dental Association (ADA) – have completely ignored racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences when stating that the level of fluoride used is “safe” for all Americans to consume in drinking water – on a daily basis, and over a lifetime.
A number of groups are particularly susceptible to fluoride’s toxic effects.
Fluoridation proponents are finally beginning to acknowledge the susceptibility of infants and children to excessive fluoride intakes, likely because they can no longer deny the obvious effects that fluoride has on the developing teeth, in the form of dental fluorosis.
However, also included among those that are disproportionately impacted by fluoride are minorities and low-income families. The refusal by government agencies to consider these groups when determining enforceable safety standards or recommended levels for artificial fluoridation is no doubt a form of discrimination, contradicting any assertions by these agencies that they are working towards Environmental Justice for all.
Atlanta Civil Rights leaders Andrew Young and Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley recently requested that Georgia legislators repeal the state’s mandatory water fluoridation law, based on the fact that fluoride can disproportionately harm poor citizens and black families.
According to a recent press release3 , the leaders “expressed concerns about the fairness, safety, and full disclosure regarding fluoridation in letters to the state’s minority and majority legislative leaders.” In his letter to the legislators, Rev. Dr. Durley states,
“I support the holding of Fluoridegate hearings at the state and national level so we can learn why we haven’t been openly told that fluorides build up in the body over time, (and) why our government agencies haven’t told the black community openly that fluorides disproportionately harm black Americans…”
Minorities Suffer Disproportionate Harm from Fluoridation
African American children have been found to consume significantly more total fluids and plain water, and thus receive more fluoride from drinking water, than white children4 . Additionally, African American mothers are less likely to breastfeed than most other racial groups5 . As breast milk contains very low levels of fluoride6 ), babies fed formula made with fluoridated water could receive up to 200 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby.
Thus, African American infants and children have a higher risk of being overexposed to fluoride.
In fact, it has been known for many decades that African Americans and Hispanics are at an increased risk of developing dental fluorosis, and have a higher risk of suffering from the more severe forms of this condition7.