Why Does Wikipedia Recommend Fluoride?
By Helen Buyniski and Gary Null, Ph. D.
Wikipedia is a staunch defender of water fluoridation. Parroting the statements of arch-Skeptic Stephen Barrett, its editors sacrifice reams of scientific data to push the scientifically-debunked theories of those who would put this proven neurotoxin in every water treatment plant, exposing generation after generation to a toxic chemical whose harms are well established and publicly known – yet still vehemently suppressed.
Wikipedia’s quick summary description of sodium fluoride merely states that it is “used to prevent cavities” and that it is the 215th-most prescribed medication in the US. This benevolent description is posted without any context, such as proof that orally-consumed fluoride has no proven effect on dental health aside from causing dental fluorosis, an unsightly mottling of the teeth that studies suggest can be used as a reliable external measure of fluoride-induced brain damage (1). Entirely absent are warnings about fluoride’s detrimental effects on nearly every system of the human body, which have been thoroughly studied and confirmed. Indeed, the US is one of the few countries that still fluoridates its water supply, and even there, many communities are gradually waking up to the harms posed by the addition of what is essentially a toxic waste byproduct to drinking water.
Under the heading “Dental caries,” Wikipedia repeats the fraudulent propaganda about how fluoride is supposed to work – enhancing the formation of fluorapatite, a component of tooth enamel. It does not mention that studies have shown that this fluorapatite layer is just six nanometers thick, less than 1/10,000th the width of a strand of hair and therefore unlikely to have much of an impact strengthening or re-mineralizing teeth.(2)
To its credit, Wikipedia does admit – without explaining the implications – that sodium fluoride is rarely used in the US for fluoridating water. Instead, hexafluorosilicic acid and sodium hexafluorosilicate, toxic byproducts of phosphate fertilizer and aluminum manufacture, are used. Wikipedia does not discuss the industrial origins of these compounds (called silicofluorides or SiFs) or their toxicity – both are deemed industrial pollutants if released into the air via factory smokestacks or into the environment via drainpipes, but are classed as benevolent when deliberately added to drinking water. It does not mention that they have never been approved or even tested by the FDA for safety, nor does it admit that studies have shown that SiFs can double or even triple the rate of lead uptake into children’s bloodstreams,(3) claiming a single study did not support this “hypothesis.” Adding SiFs to drinking water actually lowers its pH, rendering it more corrosive and thus more likely to leach lead and other contaminants as it flows through pipes – but even when a neutralizing agent is added, SiFs’ “unique affinity for lead” leaches even tiny amounts of the metal from any lead-containing pipe or fixture through which treated water flows. Used in combination with chlorine and chloramine, common disinfectants added to drinking water, the rate of lead uptake from SiF-treated water is off the charts.(4) SiFs and lead have a synergistic effect, meaning consuming both is significantly more damaging to brain tissues than consuming either alone, wreaking particular havoc in the hippocampus, the area responsible for learning and memory, and causing a marked decline in IQ.(5) Even Wikipedia can’t deny that lead exposure causes brain damage, though their article on lead poisoning doesn’t mention the correlation between lead exposure in children and criminal behavior, lumping it under the vague rubric of “behavioral problems” instead. Yet somehow, SiFs get a pass. Nowhere in the article on hexafluorosilicic acid are the safety risks even mentioned, aside from a single sentence about the dangers of inhaling the vapors. Indeed, the article says more about HSA’s effects on “glass and stoneware” than on the human body!
Wikipedia does briefly discuss the negative effects of fluoride overexposure, though it is careful not to suggest that such overexposure can occur merely by drinking tap water. It references “the higher doses used to treat osteoporosis” after acknowledging earlier in the article that fluoride is utterly ineffective at treating osteoporosis, mentioning “pain in the legs” and “incomplete stress fractures when the doses are too high” (no comment on why a substance that causes stress fractures would be used to treat a bone-weakening disease like osteoporosis), as well as stomach inflammation.
According to Wikipedia, the only “clear adverse effect” of water fluoridation is dental fluorosis! Hundreds of scientific studies would beg to differ. In just the past year, more than a dozen studies pointing to this toxic substance’s detrimental effects have been published, only to be ignored by the mainstream media and barred from addition to Wikipedia. A Mexican study published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology concluded “Fluoride could be considered an environmental kidney toxicant” after studying populations exposed to both fluoride and arsenic in drinking water; the arsenic – which Wikipedia at least admits is poisonous! – actually had less of a nephrotoxic effect.(6) A Kenyan study published in the American Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences found that auditory working memory significantly declined as fluoride concentration in drinking water increased, confirming the results of an earlier systematic review showing lower IQ in children in high-fluoride areas. These effects were observed at concentrations as low as 0.5mg/L – the low end of the scale recommended by the World Health Organization, which recommends fluoridation at concentrations as high as 1.5mg/L.(7) Another Mexican study found prenatal fluoride exposure positively correlated to ADHD symptoms in children as much as 12 years later, “consistent with the growing body of evidence suggesting neurotoxicity of early-life exposure to fluoride.”(8) A pair of Polish studies published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found strong evidence for the role of fluoride in initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, given the substance’s role in oxidative stress and inflammation.(9)(10)
Fluoride’s toxicity extends from the skeletal system, through the endocrine system, reproductive system, and neurological system, but none of these myriad effects are discussed in Wikipedia. Decades of solid scientific research are memory-holed with the blanket statement that “no clear evidence” for these adverse effects exists. Wikipedia even claims there have been only three reported cases of fluoride toxicity associated with toothpaste ingestion, when in fact there are more than 23,000 reports of toothpaste-related fluoride poisoning per year, resulting in hundreds of visits to emergency rooms.(11)
There’s a reason so few of these studies are conducted in the mostly-fluoridated US, and one study published in Medical Hypotheses touched on this matter, finding organizational bias “can and does compromise the integrity of fluoride research” – the only logical explanation for how so many studies have found evidence of neurotoxicity and toxicity in other tissues – even sky-high rates of dental fluorosis, despite the prevailing wisdom that fluoridation is “good for teeth” – yet the practice persists.(12)
There is some level of cognitive dissonance setting in, however, as more and more discussions of environmental toxins have included fluoride among lead, mercury, and arsenic in their lists of the substances most damaging to human development ever since Harvard University researcher Philippe Grandjean first added it to a list of developmental neurotoxicants considered especially harmful to the developing brain in a 2014 paper published in the Lancet. Grandjean and his colleagues called for the formation of an international clearinghouse to coordinate research into the neurotoxicants and their role in the rising global prevalence of neurodevelopmental disabilities – perhaps assuming that such a recommendation would simply be ignored were it issued to American authorities alone.(13) Wikipedia, however, seems to be firmly lodged in the scientifically-naïve 1950s, when fluoride was the magic ingredient for white teeth, DDT would keep the bugs away, and humanity would be saved by “our friend the atom.”
In summary, we are faced with this conundrum: on one hand, you have a smorgasbord of opinions not based on quality science. This is a topic that commands a deep understanding of toxicology and environmental health, pathology, and physiology, as well as neurology and psychiatry; professionals in these fields are intimately familiar with fluoride’s toxic effects. Instead, Wikipedia has people with no known qualifications, speaking on a subject that requires a deep sense of scholarship, parroting misinformation and effectively sugarcoating a known neurotoxin. At the same time, editors on Wikipedia, supported by their spiritual father Jimmy Wales, attack without regard to scientific integrity highly reputable fields of public health such as holistic, complementary and alternative medicine, herbology, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and chiropractic. They go beyond condemning a specific flawed study and deliberately choose to ignore thousands of studies supporting a therapy. Without interviewing a single practitioner or even a single patient, Wikipedia’s crew of unaccredited aand unqualified amateurs denounce that which works and is safe and natural and nontoxic, while protecting that which is toxic as if it’s no big deal, all the while denying the seriousness of iatrogenesis. Isn’t it time that people woke up to what Jimmy Wales and his Wikipedia have become?
1 Yu, X and others. “Threshold effects of moderately excessive fluoride exposure on children’s health: A potential association between dental fluorosis and lossof excellent intelligence.” Environ Int. 2018 Sep; 118:116-124. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.05.042. Epub 2018 Jun 2. accessed at:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29870912
2 Müller, F. and others, “Elemental depth profiling of fluoridated hydroxyapatite: saving your dentition by the skin of your teeth?” Langmuir. 2010 Dec21;26(24):18750-9. accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21090577
3 Sawan RM, et al. (2010). “Fluoride increases lead concentrations in whole blood and in calcified tissues from lead-exposed rats.” Toxicology 271(1-2):21-6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X10000351
4 Maas, RP et.al. “Effects of fluoridation and disinfection agent combinations on lead leaching from leaded-brass parts.” Neurotoxicology. 2007Sep;28(5):1023-31. Epub 2007 Jun 30. accessed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17697714
5 Niu, R et.al. “Decreased learning ability and low hippocampus glutamate in offspring rats exposed to fluoride and lead.” Environ ToxicolPharmacol. 2009 Sep;28(2):254-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21784012
6 Jimenez-Cordova, MI et.al. “Evaluation of kidney injury biomarkers in an adult Mexican population environmentally exposed to fluoride and low arsenic levels.” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 1 Aug 2018;352:97-106. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X18302382
7 Induswe, Benjamin et.al. “The Auditory Working Memory of 13-15-Year-Old Adolescents Using Water with Varying Fluoride Concentrations from Selected Public Primary Schools in North Kajiado Sub County.” American Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. 2018;8(0):274-290. http://article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.ajmms.20180810.04.html
8 Bashash, Morteza. “Prenatal fluoride exposure and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children at 6–12 years of age in Mexico City.” Environment International. Dec 2018;121(1):658-666. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412018311814
10 Goschorska, M et.al. “Influence of Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors Used in Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment on the Activity of Antioxidant Enzymes and the Concentration of Glutathione in THP-1 Macrophages under Fluoride-Induced Oxidative Stress.” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Dec 20;16(1). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30577562
12 Spencer, KF et.al. “Blood is thicker than water: Flaws in a National Toxicology Program study.” Medical Hypotheses. Dec 2018;121:160-163. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987718308600
13 Grandjean, P and PJ Landrigan. “Neurobehavioral effects of developmental toxicity.” Lancet Neurol. 2014 Mar;13(3):330-8. accessed at:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24556010