I am Suing the US EPA Over Fluoride Added to Our Drinking Water

Brenda Staudenmaier, Contributor

Studies show that the unnecessary fluoride chemicals purposely added to the Madison drinking water supply is health-harming in many ways; but most critically to infants’ developing brains. Several organizations and individuals sued the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize fluoride’s neurological effects when setting safe water fluoride standards. Plaintiffs include myself and children, Ko and Hayden Staudenmaier. The case heads back to federal court on Aug. 26, 2021.

Fluoridation began in the 1940s with the mistaken belief that ingested fluoride was essential to reduce tooth decay. It doesn’t. Fluoridated toothpastes might help, but not fluoridated water. In today’s polarized environment, politics, not science, keeps fluoridation policies in place.

Dentists convinced officials in the 1940s that ingesting 1 milligram fluoride per day via water fluoridated at 1 part per million (1 ppm) would prevent tooth decay; but only in children while their teeth formed under the gums. To prove they were right, dentists convinced public officials to experiment on children. Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Newburgh, New York, added sodium fluoride into their drinking water, which current science proves is neither a nutrient nor essential for decay-free teeth. Adults weren’t studied. And long-term effects were ignored. Planned to last 10 to 15 years, but declared successful after five, these experiments gave rise to the oft-repeated but scientifically unsubstantiated claims that fluoridation is a safe and effective method to reduce tooth decay. A massive PR campaign convinced the public and media.

Wisconsin played a major early role in fluoridation in the U.S., fluoridating three times as many cities as the rest of the country combined by 1950.

Leading the charge in the 1940s was John Frisch, a Madison dentist. One historian described him as “a man possessed. Fluoridation became practically a religion with him.” He even labeled his regular tap water as “Poison” to encourage his children to drink water he’d fluoridated. He was actually delighted when his daughter’s teeth showed fluorosis.

Frisch was an evangelist for fluoridation, crisscrossing the state to spread the word. He persuaded the Wisconsin Dental Society to endorse fluoridation on March 19, 1945, which asserted that fluoridation had “no untoward results.” By Dec. 13, 1946, the Madison city council approved it. His goal was “50 by 50,” fifty Wisconsin cities fluoridated by 1950, and he succeeded.

He was aided by another dentist, Frank Bull, who promoted the issue both in Wisconsin and nationally. This is a quote from him at the national conference of state dental directors in June 1951, telling others how to promote fluoridation:

“We are into a program, fluoridating the water, which has absolutely no bad connection with it . . .The question of toxicity . . . Lay off it altogether. Just pass it over. We know there is absolutely no effect other than reducing tooth decay, you say, and then go on.”

Fluoridation is, in fact, one of the most widely rejected health interventions in the world, just the opposite of the “consensus” that supporters say it enjoys.

Out of 196 nations, only 24 have any fluoridation, and only 10, like the U.S. for more than half their population. Ninety-five percent of the world’s population drinks unfluoridated water. Many European nations, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, have disallowed it. And for nations that haven’t banned it, the vast majority of cities and towns have either rejected it or won’t even consider it.

Numerous nations cite the ethical problem of putting any drug in drinking water. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights says “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information.”

As the Dutch health ministry stated, “the addition of chemicals to drinking water is prohibited by law in the Netherlands. This law came into effect because it was widely perceived that drinking water should not be used as a vehicle for pharmaceuticals.”

Fluoridation actually gives a government entity the power to administer a drug without your approval, an authority even your own physician doesn’t have. Fluoride is the only drug in the world administered through drinking water, where there is no control over who gets it, how much and for how long.

Adding fluoride to water for cavity prevention doesn’t make any more sense than adding aspirin to water because some people get headaches or a statin drug because some people have high cholesterol.

An original Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) petition was filed by myself and others with the EPA in 2016 containing over 180 studies demonstrating fluoride’s neurotoxicity. Since then, even more neurological studies have been published validating the harmful effect of fluoride exposure during infancy. This includes high-quality National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded studies in Canada and Mexico which associate fluoride with lower IQ and increased ADHD, even at the exposures we get in fluoridated communities. The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has also drafted multiple versions of a report on the neurotoxicity evidence of fluoride where they identified 29 high quality studies, 27 found statistically significant adverse effects to the brain. Thirteen of the studies found adverse effects at levels of 0.7mg/L and below. Dane County Public Health and Madison Water Utility currently consider 0.7mg/L as their target to dose the population.

The experts used by the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit include, Drs. Hu, Grandjean and Lanphear who have all been funded by both the EPA and National Institutes of Health (NIH). These grants are only given to researchers conducting the highest-quality studies. Dr. Thiessen is president of a private consulting firm and does work for numerous countries. All four are world-renowned. ELEMENT refers to studies conducted in Mexico and MIREC to studies in Canada. The U.S. has done no comparable studies.

Philippe Grandjean, MD, DMSc, is adjunct professor in environmental health at Harvard and chair of environmental medicine at the U. of Southern Denmark. EPA based its current regulations for mercury on his studies. He has co- authored 16 studies on fluoride: “The IQ losses associated with community water fluoridation are substantial and of significant public health concern.” (http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/EPA-trial-Grandjean-Declaration.pdf)

Howard Hu, MD, MPH, ScD, is currently chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. He previously taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan and was founding dean of the school of public health at the University of Toronto. He has co-authored four studies on fluoride: “The results of the ELEMENT prospective cohort studies are consistent with and support the conclusion that fluoride is a developmental neurotoxicant at levels of exposure seen in the general population in water-fluoridated communities.” (http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/EPA-trial-Hu-Declaration.pdf)

Bruce Lanphear, MD, MPH is a professor in health sciences at Simon Fraser U. in Vancouver, BC and clinical investigator at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. EPA used his study of lead to determine the current national safety standard that there is no safe level in the bloodstream. He has co-authored three studies on fluoride: “Converging results from the MIREC (Canada) and ELEMENT (Mexico) cohorts indicate that exposure to “optimal” levels of fluoride during fetal development is associated with diminished intelligence in childhood.” (http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/EPA-trial-Lanphear-declaration.pdf)

Kathleen Thiessen, PhD, is president and senior scientist at Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis. She was co-author of the 2006 National Research Council’s authoritative review: “Fluoridation chemicals present an “unreasonable risk” of neurotoxic effects, including IQ loss, if assessed under the same risk characterization and risk determination framework that EPA uses in its evaluations of other chemicals under TSCA.” (http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/EPA-trial-Thiessen-Declaration.pdf)

We are learning that government agencies are slow to act when it comes to protecting human health and the environment. Like fluoride in drinking water, government agencies such as EPA and HHS are dragging their feet on fluorinated PFAS standards as well. Many states have set their regulatory levels much lower than EPA’s non enforceable Hazardous Advisory Level (HAL) of 70ppt. PFAS are hazardous materials that we are measuring only a small fraction of them in our water. Dr. Linda Birnbaum recently recommended to the Wisconsin Environmental Health Network that total organic fluoride should be measured in our water supply.

Fluoride chemicals are sourced from the phosphate fertilizer slurry ponds in Florida. They can contain up to 50 mg/L of arsenic and lead contamination.

Brenda Staudenmaier is a native of Peshtigo and lives in both Green Bay & Madison. She attends college at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) and Madison College while working full time operating the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. She has a YouTube channel where she posts videos about fluoride and water.