Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention
Peckham, S., and Awofeso, N.
Scientific World Journal 2014. Published 26 February 2014. doi: 10.1155/2014/293019
Fluorine is the world’s 13th most abundant element and constitutes 0.08% of the Earth crust. It has the highest electronegativity of all elements. Fluoride is widely distributed in the environment, occurring in the air, soils, rocks, and water. Although fluoride is used industrially in a fluorine compound, the manufacture of ceramics, pesticides, aerosol propellants, refrigerants, glassware, and Teflon cookware, it is a generally unwanted byproduct of aluminium, fertilizer, and iron ore manufacture. The medicinal use of fluorides for the prevention of dental caries began in January 1945 when community water supplies in Grand Rapids, United States, were fluoridated to a level of 1 ppm as a dental caries prevention measure. However, water fluoridation remains a controversial public health measure. This paper reviews the human health effects of fluoride. The authors conclude that available evidence suggests that fluoride has a potential to cause major adverse human health problems, while having only a modest dental caries prevention effect. As part of efforts to reduce hazardous fluoride ingestion, the practice of artificial water fluoridation should be reconsidered globally, while industrial safety measures need to be tightened in order to reduce unethical discharge of fluoride compounds into the environment. Public health approaches for global dental caries reduction that do not involve systemic ingestion of fluoride are urgently needed.