Fluoride quality control bills target contaminated drinking water additives

February 21, 2001

In the current legislative season, quality control bills are being introduced in four states. These bills do not oppose fluoridation. They only require higher standards of purity for the chemicals used in fluoridation. The bill sponsored by the New Hampshire Pure Water Coalition is typical of these efforts.

Statement from New Hampshire Pure Water Coalition:

Following a contentious election season that resulted in 14 cities and counties throughout America voting no to fluoridating their public water supply and 9 voting yes, the focus of New Hampshire legislation, responding to citizen concerns, has turned away from the fluoridation controversy to the actual substances used in the fluoridation process.

Without taking a stance on the advisability of fluoridation, five Democrats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and three Republicans in the Senate, supported by a number of respected citizen groups, have joined forces in introducing the Fluoride Product Quality Control Act that mirrors bills being introduced in Oregon, Washington State, and California, calling for a fresh look at, and testing of, the actual fluoridation substances.

Gerhard Bedding, Director of New Hampshire Pure Water Coalition, explains, "Most of us were shocked to learn that despite the 50 year old controversy, the Environmental Protection Agency recently responded to an ongoing investigation of fluoride by the U.S House Committee on Science by stating that they had absolutely no studies on either the safety or effectiveness of the substances that are used in 90% of the nation's fluoridation programs."

The Fluoride Product Quality Control Act (LSR-0986) requires substances used to fluoridate public drinking water to:

Bedding points out that contaminants already present in the water are regulated by the EPA, which establishes both a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) and a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for each acutely toxic element. "The MCLG is the level at which no known adverse health effects are expected to occur, based solely on science without consideration of costs or politics. It is non-enforceable, but the enforceable MCL is supposed to be set as closely to the MCLG as possible. How close that will be depends on economic and political factors. When a contaminant reaches the MCL, the upper allowable limit, a water supplier has to take remedial action."

Bedding explained, "For example lead is allowed in tap water up to 15 parts per billion (ppb), even though the goal, the MCLG, the point at which no known adverse health effects occur, is Zero (0). There is widespread confusion that lead is safe and does not create health problems as long as it does not surpass 15 ppb. The only truly safe health level is 0. The closer one can get to this, the better. Manchester's water has already a fairly high lead content and any lead added by fluoridation chemicals contradicts the EPA's MCLG.

"For arsenic the MCLG is also Zero (0). As recently reported in New Hampshire front page news, the EPA has revised its MCL for arsenic downward from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion; despite EPA's testifying that this level is not totally protective of the population."

"Looking at just the Maximum Contaminant Level, the upper limit of what is legally tolerated, is not acceptable when you are purposely adding a substance for a stated health purpose," says Bedding. "Tiny amounts of arsenic have consequences. Recent research from Finland shows a 50% increase in bladder cancer for populations consuming water with a level of 0.1 to 0.5 ppb arsenic, compared with populations receiving 0.1 ppb or less. How many people who voted for fluoridation in Manchester's election knew that their vote for fluoridation meant yes to adding arsenic and lead?"

Concerns for fluoride recombining with other elements in the water have also surfaced in a recent study of 280,000 children in Massachusetts showing that when the fluoride waste products from the phosphate fertilizer industry are present in the water, as compared to sodium fluoride or no added fluoride, there has been a doubling of the incidence of lead levels in children's blood elevated above the danger level of 10 micrograms per deciliter. The correlation with blood lead levels is especially serious because lead poisoning is associated with higher rates of learning disabilities, hyperactivity, substance abuse, and crime.

Recent science has also pointed to health concerns about aluminum and fluoride combinations, with a 1998 laboratory study showing a doubling of the amount of aluminum delivered to the brain when using low doses of aluminum fluoride as found in fluoridated drinking water. Aluminum is frequently used for water clarification.

"This bill will mean that no longer will the testing for safety and effectiveness be performed on a pharmaceutical grade substitute in deionized water, it will require the actual substance be assessed with the other contents of tap water," states Bedding.