Water fluoridation is something most people don’t think about most of the time. We know that fluoride is placed in our water, but we give little thought to how it might be affecting us, other than that it is helping us to avoid dental cavities.
Those who are familiar with the world of online conspiracy theories know that the dangers of water fluoridation is not an uncommon topic of discussion. Proponents of the theory, such as Dr. Joseph Mercola, argue that fluoride added to municipal water supplies can negatively impact the endocrine system, that it can lead to diabetes and lower IQ, and that there is no evidence that water fluoridation results in fewer cavities. We won’t mention the darker aspects of the conspiracy.
While the fluoride conspiracy can lead one into a very deep rabbit hole, there is a certain amount of disagreement about the safety of water fluoridation among scientists. Fluoride can, of course, be toxic if enough of it is ingested. At high enough concentrations, it can wreak havoc on the male reproductive system. One Harvard study found that heavy water fluoridation may be connected to reduced IQ in children and that it may negatively impact brain development in children. Research has shown that fluoride can also reduce thyroid function, and it has been connected to bone cancer in boys. The validity of these studies has been disputed.
In Europe, water fluoridation has decreased over the last decade or so, with various countries and local governments choosing to stop adding fluoride to their water supplies. Countries in other parts of the world have gone in a similar direction. Here in the United States, though, water fluoridation is still the norm and is largely unquestioned, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
In our next post, we’ll look at some of the legal aspects of water fluoridation and how these issues can affect ordinary people.