Fact Checking the Fact Checkers: Experts Say Fluoridated Water Not Safe to Drink

By Derrick Broze

As Americans wait to hear the outcome of a federal court’s ruling on water fluoridation, corporate fact checkers are attempting to confuse the public. Let’s fact check the “fact checkers”.

On the final day of the lawsuit between the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a “fact check” was released in an attempt to quell public concern regarding the dangers of water fluoridation. The so-called fact check, CDC, Experts Say Fluoridated Water Is Safe, Contrary to RFK Jr.’s Warnings, reiterated what Americans have heard for the last 80 years: water fluoridation is safe and helps reduce cavities. Anyone who says otherwise is simply some nut on the internet who doesn’t understand science.

FactCheck.org wasted no time letting the reader know that trustworthy institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “multiple expert groups” want you to know that fluoride is totally safe and good for America. These groups include the American Dental Association, who is one of the original promoters of this practice, and certainly an organization that stands to lose if the public rejects fluoride as safe.

As indicated in the title, FactCheck.org was focused on tweets from independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., including one from February 4th where he said, “As president. I’m going to order the CDC to take every step necessary to remove neurotoxic fluoride from American drinking water.”

FactCheck.org also took issue with a tweet from Jason Bassler, co-founder of The Free Thought Project independent media website, and now also part of the TLAV team. Bassler’s tweet was also posted on Instagram by other accounts. Neither of the accounts attracted more than 1,500 likes. The website took particular issue with his statement that “multiple studies confirm fluoride is a neurotoxin that violates the Toxic Substances Control Act and reduces IQ in kids.”

According to FactCheck.org, the data on water fluoridation and neurotoxicity are “less clear-cut” than the social media posts claimed. Let’s take a look at their claims and statements by government officials, and compare them to what we heard in the fluoride lawsuit.

Authority Bias

From the outset it appears obvious that FactCheck.org has a bias for supporting the government’s positions, and thus, arguing in defense of government policy. Rather than simply looking at the data as it stands and drawing conclusions, FactCheck.org operates as a mouth piece for the U.S. government’s position.

For example, they start off by acknowledging that “some studies” have found an association between higher fluoride exposure during pregnancy and lower IQ in children. However, they choose to include a pretty massive caveat. Namely, that many of the studies on fluoride are “done in areas of the world with naturally high levels of fluoride in their water supplies well above the optimally recommended level”. Unfortunately, this is only partially true.

While many of the recent reviews of the peer reviewed literature on fluoride include studies which did examine levels of water fluoridation above the level recommended by the CDC, researchers also examined studies relating to fluoride concentrations similar to what Americans experience.

This includes a newly published review of the evidence on the potential human health effects of fluoride conducted by Risk Sciences International under a contract with Health Canada, the federal public health agency for Canada. Health Canada is currently developing a water fluoridation policy for Canada.

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The RSI report concluded, “the evidence supports a conclusion that fluoride exposure reduces IQ levels in children at concentrations close to those seen in North American drinking water”. The report did acknowledge there is uncertainty about at which exact concentration harm begins.

Expert Vs Expert

FactCheck.org goes on to say that “many scientific experts” have concluded the evidence for the association between water fluoridation and lower IQ is “weak”. They correctly note that the EPA’s position, as evidenced throughout the fluoride lawsuit, is essentially that the evidence isn’t strong or consistent enough to draw conclusions about the impact of water fluoridation at lower levels.

This was the same position being offered by EPA’s expert witnesses during the lawsuit. Dr. David Savitz and Dr. Stanley Barone did their best to offer unclear, winding non-answers when asked simple questions by Judge Chen or FAN attorneys. While it might be technically accurate to say that some scientific experts have found the association between fluoride and lower IQ to be weak, this does not acknowledge that there are scientists — including some currently working for the U.S. government — who believe the evidence is overwhelmingly strong. FactCheck.org would rather the reader believe that the U.S. government’s scientific agencies are of one voice on this topic.

FactCheck.org does concede that drinking fluoride is not necessary for babies, but they claim the only “small risk” is dental fluorosis. They also state that, according to the CDC, experts have already concluded there is not an association between recommended levels of water fluoridation and “any other negative health impacts”.

Yes, you read that right. The CDC and the fact checkers are claiming there are no negative health impacts associated with water fluoridation. None.

However, while I was attending the lawsuit I had the opportunity to interview three of the expert witnesses providing testimony for the Fluoride Action Network and plaintiffs.

The first expert I spoke with was Dr. Howard Hu, the principal investigator in the Mexico ELEMENT study, a pregnancy and birth cohort on fluoride’s impact on neurobehavioral development. Hu’s research was funded by the EPA and the National Institutes of Health. Hu has also been involved in research on lead toxicity and anti-social behavior.

During his testimony, Hu discussed how fluoride could potentially pass from a pregnant mother to her child. Hu’s work has indicated higher levels of fluoride within the urine of pregnant mothers by the 3rd trimester. Hu explained to the court how a baby in the 3rd trimester typically pulls calcium from the mother’s bones as it develops its skeletal structure. If a mother is receiving fluoride this will be stored in her bones. When her child begins pulling minerals from the mother it will also receive fluoride via the placenta.

I asked Dr. Hu if he believed the evidence supported the claim that fluoride is a neurotoxin.

“Yes. I would say that, in my view, the evidence is quite persuasive that there is a negative impact of fluoride exposure on the neurodevelopment of children, particularly the research that’s been coming out in prenatal exposure.”

Dr. Bruce Lanphear was the second expert witness who shared with me his concerns regarding water fluoridation. Dr. Lanphear is a public health physician & pediatric epidemiologist that specializes in environmental exposures including lead & other toxic chemicals. He has an M.D. from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and an M.P.H. from the Tulane School of Public Health. He is an expert on lead toxicity whose own work has been used by the EPA to develop their standards on lead.

“Well, what we found, whether we looked at urinary fluoride from the mom as a measure of exposure, or water fluoride, or an estimate of fluoride intake during pregnancy, in every case, we saw IQ deficits in the children,” Dr. Lanphear noted about his research.

Lanphear also told me that his work found a 65% increase in hypothyroidism in women exposed to fluoride via water fluoridation.

The third and final expert witness I spoke with was Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a Danish scientist working in environmental medicine. Grandjean is the head of the Environmental Medicine Research Unit at the University of Southern Denmark and adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Grandjean has an extensive history of researching mercury.

Grandjean corroborated the concerns about fluoride and IQ, stating that, “When we merge all the findings, we can see that there is a tendency, the higher the fluoride exposure during fetal life, that is, from the mother’s exposure, the greater the loss in IQ at school age.” Grandjean also discussed the levels of fluoride increasing the further along a pregnancy, particularly by the 3rd trimester.

During Grandjean and other witnesses testimony much of the conversation focused on what is known as an “uncertainty factor”. The court heard from several witnesses that during a typical Hazard Assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA will apply an “uncertainty factor” of ten. This means that if a hazard is found at a specific level, you multiple that by 10 in consideration of the most vulnerable, at risk portions of the population.

None of the testimony of these three scientists (or the other three expert witnesses presented by the plaintiffs) were quoted in FactCheck.org’s look at the fluoride lawsuit.

(Note: TLAV made efforts to interview the expert witnesses presented by the EPA as well. None of them have accepted offers for interviews as of the time of this article.)

FactCheck.org also features Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine. Novella states that water fluoridation exists because “it has a demonstrable positive impact on dental health.” Novella went even further, claiming that because fluoride allegedly reduces cavities and improves overall dental health, it “has downstream effects as well because bad dental health can cause general health problems, heart disease, etc.”

While the connection between dental health and mental health is indeed becoming more widely known, the long-believed claim of water fluoridation reducing cavities is also under renewed scrutiny. The recently published Lotus cohort study, How effective and cost-effective is water fluoridation for adults and adolescents?, examined the differences between fluoridated and non-fluoridated populations in the United Kingdom and found little measurable difference.

The researchers concluded, “This study suggests that exposure to optimal water fluoridation between 2010 and 20 resulted in ‘exceedingly small’ health effects, ‘very small’ reductions in NHS (National Health Service) dental service utilization, and no meaningful reduction in social inequalities”.

Discrepancies Over the NTP’s Suppressed Report

The “fact check” next looks at Robert F. Kennedy’s statements regarding the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s report on fluoride being “hidden from the public.” FactCheck.org quotes an anonymous spokesperson from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), where the NTP is housed, as saying that NTP reports are a “starting point for further study to determine if there is a risk to humans”.

The NIEHS spokesperson said the NTP report was not intended to establish if water fluoridation at typical levels was safe. The spokesperson also said the report is still being revised, noting that it had been delayed by the NTP director after he tasked a working group with reviewing the criticism of the report.

Once again, this is mostly factual, but leaves out important details that a reader ought to know if they are to have a full understanding of the situation.

What the “fact checkers” leave out is that emails released in early January 2023 as part of the lawsuit reveal that various elements of the U.S. government appear to have been involved in a concerted effort to block the release of the NTP report — a report which concluded fluoride is linked to lower IQ in children.

The emails show that NTP scientists believed their work was completed and set a date for May 2022 for publication. However, leadership at the top levels of the Department of Health Human Services intervened to stop the report from being released.

One email dated April 28, 2022 shows Dr. Mary Wolfe, the Director of NTP’s Office of Policy, Review and Outreach, emailed Casey Hannan, the Director of CDC’s Division of Oral Health, and stated the NTP’s “analysis and conclusions are set”. Dr. Wolfe also let Hannan know that the NTP had reviewed the CDC’s previously submitted comments, but still planned to release the review “mid/late May” 2022.

In a May 11, 2022 email, Wolfe again notifies Hannan and the CDC that the NTP has “set May 18, 2022 for publication of the monograph. The monograph will be posted to the NTP website, and we will email a notice of the posting to NTP listserv subscribers.”

However, later that day and the following day, Dr. Karen Hacker, the Director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), tells Dr. Wolfe that there is concern within the CDC about publishing the NTP review without an additional review by “NIH leadership”. Hacker also asked about the potential of a “interagency review” by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Dr. Wolfe subsequently told the CDC that “we (the NTP) believe the current findings, as stated in the monograph, reflect the scope of our evaluation and the available scientific literature and no revision is needed”.

Meanwhile, as Dr. Wolfe was defending the work of the NTP, internal emails among officials at the CDC’s Division of Oral Health reveal that the CDC was already preparing to prevent the release. A May 12, 2022 email from Hannan states:

“The May 18th release date for [the monograph] is almost certainly not going to happen. OASH and NIH OD are pretty clearly going to get more involved.”

OASH is a reference to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, the second highest office in the Department of Health and Human Services, while NIH OD refers to the NIH’s Office of the Director, the highest office within the NIH. The current Director of the NIH is Lawrence A. Tabak.

Together with the June 3rd, 2022 email, these communications point to direct intervention from the head of the NIH and the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The emails confirm what has long been suspected. Namely, that government officials at some level were preventing the release of this important review on the toxicity of fluoride. The CDC interference comes on top of an already unusual process employed by the NTP to evaluate the data on the safety of water fluoridation.

During an October 2022 hearing for the lawsuit, Fluoride Action Network attorney Michael Connett noted that the NTP report had been reviewed 4 times already, with a planned 5th review on the way. “There will be at least 5 separate peer review processes extending over 4 years. This is, to put it mildly, exceptionally unusual,” Connett told the court at the time.

Needless to say, the folks over at FactCheck.org do not mention any of the unusual review processes, nor do they mention the emails highlighting interference from high ranking officials in the U.S. government, and they most certainly do not show the NTP scientists going back and forth with the various reviewers as they fight to maintain their conclusion that fluoride is associated with lower IQ in children.

Instead, FactCheck.org focused on a “recurring area of concern” over whether the authors of the NTP report had sufficiently made clear that their overall conclusions on fluoride’s effects on IQ might not apply to the lower levels of fluoride found in U.S. municipal water supplies. However, as noted above, researchers in the recent Health Canada study found association of harm at levels similar to North American drinking water, and we also have to consider the fact that individuals who are dealing with kidney and liver issues will likely see harm from water fluoridation at levels lower than the claimed safe amount.

The Case of Dentist Jayanth Kumar

One final piece of this puzzle relates to FactCheck.org pointing at studies which found no relationship between fluoride exposure and lower IQ. This includes the meta-analysis, Association between low fluoride exposure and children’s intelligence: a meta-analysis relevant to community water fluoridation, which was published in the journal Public Health in 2023. This review only evaluated studies in which people were exposed to levels of fluoride at 1.5 mg per liter and lower, and did not identify a relationship between fluoride levels and IQ in various analyses.

Without examining the studies methodology or picking apart their conclusions, one thing immediately jumps out at me — all four authors come from a dental background.

This is not, in and of itself, a disqualifying factor, but, as the lawsuit has made clear, there are absolutely those in the dental field who will continue to stand by the alleged safety of fluoride despite evidence to the contrary. The American Dental Association and affiliated dental groups are some of the vocal advocates for fluoride, and consistently push back on any claims that fluoride is harmful.

Further, the lead author Dr. Jayanth Kumar, California’s State Dental Director, has previously been implicated in altering his studies to promote the alleged benefits of fluoride. During a deposition for the lawsuit, Kumar admitted his “job is to promote fluoridation” and that he is “literally being paid to promote fluoridation.”

Documents obtained under California’s Public Records Act show that Kumar’s desire to protect fluoridation influenced almost every aspect of the study. Before even conducting the study, Kumar told his colleagues that his aim was to “pre-empt” the NTP and show that fluoridated water is safe. In emails to co-authors, Kumar emphasized the “urgency” of the task.”

Kumar’s paper was rejected four times before being published, with one peer reviewer describing the study as “superficial,” “unbalanced,” and “misleading”. The emails show the peer reviewer referring to “misinformation” in the study, and worrying that it will “fuel more controversy rather than stimulate prudent science-based decisions.”

When Kumar could not get the results he wanted in the paper — namely, that water fluoridation was safe — he chose to remove an analysis which showed the association between low levels of fluoride and reduced IQ.

Do Not Trust the “Fact Checkers”

This is but one reason why we cannot blindly follow or trust the “fact checkers.” Despite FactCheck.org’s claims that no corporation or outside entity has control over their editorial decisions, they function as unofficial state-sanctioned propaganda and disinformation.

It’s increasingly difficult for individuals to ascertain the truth when attempting to navigate the minefield of fact checkers, fake news, video and audio fakery, and AI bots. We must do our best to remain vigilant, question everything, employ critical thinking, and always seek the sources for claims being pushed into our psyche. Only then will we remain prepared for the ever-intensifying information war.

Source: The Last American Vagabond

Visit TheLastAmericanVagabond.com. Subscribe to TLAV’s independent news broadcast on iTunes. Follow on Facebook and Minds. Support with Bitcoin.

Derrick Broze, a staff writer for The Last American Vagabond, is a journalist, author, public speaker, and activist. He is the co-host of Free Thinker Radio on 90.1 Houston, as well as the founder of The Conscious Resistance Network & The Houston Free Thinkers.


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