PRI report: Health risks of water fluoridation raise concerns

2013 10 29 15 22 32 621 Fluoride 200

The Public Radio International (PRI) program "Living on Earth" broadcast a report on community water fluoridation on November 20. According to the broadcast, "research has raised questions about the additive's safety."

The broadcast featured Stephen Peckham, a professor of health policy from the University of Kent in the U.K.; Philippe Grandjean, MD, an adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and environmental activist Laura Turner Seydel. The broadcast did not include any proponents of community water fluoridation on the broadcast.

Stephen Peckham, professor of health policy, University of Kent in the U.K.Stephen Peckham, professor of health policy, University of Kent in the U.K.

During the broadcast, Peckham said his paper on the association between fluoridated water and hypothyroidism, published earlier this year, looked at levels of hypothyroidism in general practice populations across England and found an association or a risk of higher levels of hypothyroidism in practices in fluoridated areas.

"It's surprising that there hasn't been a lot of really good-quality research looking at the effects of water fluoridation," Peckham said. "If you were to put water fluoridation up now as an intervention which was to be started, I suspect that on both scientific and ethical grounds, it would not be introduced."

Grandjean's 2014 interview about his research that found a correlation between fluoride exposure and lower IQ was cited.

"We looked at more than 20 studies from China where they had compared children exposed to high fluoride content in the water and low," Grandjean said. "And on the average, the difference in performance among those kids was seven IQ points."

"That's a sizable difference," noted Grandjean, while acknowledging that a percentage of the children in the population "have been exposed to substantial fluoride concentrations in water."

Follow-up on his study is necessary, he added, to "determine if there is any risk in regard to fluoride exposure under U.S. conditions."

Laura Turner Seydel, the other interview subject, is co-founder of the Atlanta-based Mothers and Others for Clean Air. According to PRI, Seydel is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop "endorsing" water fluoridation, such as this statement from June 2015.

"It's something that I became concerned about seven or eight years ago," she said. "I have a problem with my thyroid, and the doctor that I went to suggested that it could have come from overfluoridation, that I'd just had too much, and that it compromised the function of my thyroid."

The dental and healthcare communities reacted strongly to this broadcast. will run their responses, starting with this Second Opinion column by Deborah Foote, the executive director of Oral Health Colorado.

You can listen to the PRI broadcast and read a complete transcript of it on the "Living on Earth" program's website.

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