Fluoridation Ethics

Fluoridation is an “unacceptable risk,” says public health professor Niyi Awofeso in the journal Public Health Ethics, August 2012. “There is insufficient ethical justification for artificial water fluoridation.”

Awofeso, a university professor in Australia, who has published over 70 peer-reviewed academic papers in respected journals, goes on to discuss how:

  1. No evidence supports the assertion that artificial water fluoridation reduces social disparities in cavity incidence.
  2. Fluoridation’s effectiveness is questionable.
  3. Poor children are more apt to develop dental fluorosis (discolored teeth).
  4. Two potential adverse effects of fluoride, hypothyroidism and bone fractures, have been reported in scholarly journals.
  5. Fluoridation chemicals (fluosilicic acid) are contaminated with lead, arsenic and mercury, major health hazards for which no safe levels exist.

Awofeso concludes:

It would appear that the effectiveness of artificial water fluoridation in the 21st century is at best questionable, given its fixed-dose medication approach, quality of fluoride used and its adverse impact on calcium metabolism and largely insignificant differences in dental caries experience between areas with artificial water fluoridation and those without.

Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns of the public with regards to the ethics of fluoridation, pro-fluoridation activists dismiss anti-water fluoridation advocates as misinformed trouble makers intent on undermining public health.

Awofeso speculates that pro-fluoridation advocacy groups won’t concede “victory” to opposing groups, who they deride as ignorant, to save face or that it’s the “general inertia with policy disinvestment.”

Despite assurances that artificial water fluoridation chemicals, hydrofluosilicic acid, act the same as naturally occurring calcium fluoride, Awofesco explains that calcium fluoride does not inhibit a tooth’s calcium absorption but fluosilicic acid does “thus annulling the dental caries prevention effects of water fluoridated with fluosilicic acid.”

The increasing prominence of anti-water fluoridation groups globally, greater appreciation of natural and artificial fluoride sources and likely dangers of excessive fluoride consumption among some population(s) necessitate(s) a thorough analysis of the merits of water fluoridation.

As fluoride expert Dr. Paul Connett states,

What other drug have we ever delivered through the public water supply? None. And for obvious reasons: 1) You cannot control the dose, 2) You cannot control who gets it, and 3) It violates the individual’s right to informed consent to medicine.

The abstract of Awofeso’s paper, “Ethics of Artificial Water Fluoridation in Australia,” is available here.

Adapted from a press release by FAN

Image by tankgirls, via Flickr

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