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For decades, adding fluoride to public water supplies has been hailed as a great advancement in public health. But a closer look at fluoride's toxicity and the circumstances surrounding its widespread acceptance in the medical profession raise serious questions about the wisdom of its continued use.

Fast Facts

  • Much of the fluoride used in drinking water is a toxic by-product of the fertilizer industry.​


  • Studies show that fluoride ingestion can impact neurological development in children well as dental fluorosis and other health problems.​


  • Certain at-risk populations, such as those with kidney disease, should not drink fluoridated water.

A common type of fluoride used for water supplies, fluorosilicic acid, is a toxic by-product of the aluminum and phosphate fertilizer industries, and its disposal is tightly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, once it is sold as an additive for drinking water supplies, the EPA’s oversight role is eliminated. Unlike fluoride compounds found in toothpaste and mouthwash, fluoridation chemicals are not pharmaceutical grade quality. Fluoride has been banned in most European countries, and is prohibited in certain water supplies in the United States.

Fluoride is also not an essential nutrient. No peer-reviewed study has ever indicated that humans require fluoride, even for dental health. And contrary to widely-held beliefs, ingested fluoride shows little benefit compared to topical fluoride use in preventing tooth decay. Over the past 50 years there has been a significant decrease in tooth decay in the general population in all western countries, regardless of whether or not they fluoridate their water.


Systemic fluoride uptake (ingestion through supplementation or in water supplies) is suspected of causing adverse effects, in particular, IQ deficits in children. Recent research from Mexico and Canada confirm that early-life exposures to fluoride were negatively associated with children’s performance on cognitive tests. Neurotoxic risk evaluation is necessary when determining the safety of fluoride-contaminated drinking water and fluoride uses for preventive dentistry purposes. Topical fluoride treatments appear to be safe and a more direct and appropriate means of preventing cavities. 


In addition, a growing body of environmental health professionals feel that certain at-risk populations such as infants, young children, breastfeeding women and individuals with renal disease, nutrient deficiencies and diabetes should not consume fluoridated water in any amount. Even the American Dental Association advises parents to avoid preparing baby formula with fluoridated water or giving infants fluoridated water to drink. It also recommends reduced levels of fluoride exposure for children under 6 years of age.

Fluoride Resources
Print Material
Web Resources 
  • The Fluoride Action Network is an international coalition of dental professionals and scientists seeking to broaden public awareness about the toxicity of fluoride compounds.

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