NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION
BEN FRANKLIN STATION
P.O. BOX 7672
WASHINGTON, DC 20044
STATEMENT OF Dr. J. WILLIAM HIRZY
NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION CHAPTER 280
SUBCOMMITTEE ON WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND DRINKING WATER
UNITED STATES SENATE
JUNE 29, 2000
Good morning Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before this Subcommittee to present the views of the union, of which I am a Vice-President, on the subject of fluoridation of public water supplies.
Our union is comprised of and represents the professional employees at the headquarters location of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C. Our members include toxicologists, biologists, chemists, engineers, lawyers and others defined by law as “professionals.” The work we do includes evaluation of toxicity, exposure and economic information for management’s use in formulating public health and environmental protection policy. I am not here as a representative of EPA, but rather as a representative of EPA headquarters professional employees, through their duly elected labor union. The union first got involved in this issue in 1985 as a matter of professional ethics. In 1997 we most recently voted to oppose fluoridation. Our opposition has strengthened since then.
Summary of Recommendations
1) We ask that you order an independent review of a cancer bioassay previously mandated by Congressional committee and subsequently performed by Battelle Memorial Institute with appropriate blinding and instructions that all reviewer’s independent determinations be reported to this Committee.
2) We ask that you order that the two waste products of the fertilizer industry that are now used in 90% of fluoridation programs, for which EPA states they are not able to identify any chronic studies, be used in any future toxicity studies, rather than a substitute chemical. Further, since federal agencies are actively advocating that each man woman and child drink, eat and bathe in these chemicals, silicofluorides should be placed at the head of the list for establishing a MCL that complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act. This means that the MCL be protective of the most sensitive of our population, including infants, with an appropriate margin of safety for ingestion over an entire lifetime.
3) We ask that you order an epidemiology study comparing children with dental fluorosis to those not displaying overdose during growth and development years for behavioral and other disorders.
4) We ask that you convene a joint Congressional Committee to give the only substance that is being mandated for ingestion throughout this country the full hearing that it deserves.
National Review of Fluoridation The Subcommittee’s hearing today can only begin to get at the issues surrounding the policy of water fluoridation in the United States, a massive experiment that has been run on the American public, without informed consent, for over fifty years. The last Congressional hearings on this subject were held in 1977. Much knowledge has been gained in the intervening years. It is high time for a national review of this policy by a Joint Select Committee of Congress. New hearings should explore, at minimum, these points:
1) excessive and un-controlled fluoride exposures;
2) altered findings of a cancer bioassay;
3) the results and implications of recent brain effects research;
4) the “protected pollutant” status of fluoride within EPA;
5) the altered recommendations to EPA of a 1983 Surgeon General’s Panel on fluoride;
6) the results of a fifty-year experiment on fluoridation in two New York communities;
7) the findings of fact in three landmark lawsuits since 1978;
8) the findings and implications of recent research linking the predominant fluoridation chemical with elevated blood-lead levels in children and anti-social behavior; and
9) changing views among dental researchers on the efficacy of water fluoridation
Fluoride Exposures Are Excessive and Un-controlled According to a study by the National Institute of Dental Research, 66 percent of America’s children in fluoridated communities show the visible sign of over-exposure and fluoride toxicity, dental fluorosis (1). That result is from a survey done in the mid-1980’s and the figure today is undoubtedly much higher.
Centers for Disease Control and EPA claim that dental fluorosis is only a “cosmetic” effect. God did not create humans with fluorosed teeth. That effect occurs when children ingest more fluoride than their bodies can handle with the metabolic processes we were born with, and their teeth are damaged as a result. And not only their teeth. Children’s bones and other tissues, as well as their developing teeth are accumulating too much fluoride. We can see the effect on teeth. Few researchers, if any, are looking for the effects of excessive fluoride exposure on bone and other tissues in American children. What has been reported so far in this connection is disturbing. One example is epidemiological evidence (2a, 2b) showing elevated bone cancer in young men related to consumption of fluoridated drinking water.
Without trying to ascribe a cause and effect relationship beforehand, we do know that American children in large numbers are afflicted with hyperactivity-attention deficit disorder, that autism seems to be on the rise, that bone fractures in young athletes and military personnel are on the rise, that earlier onset of puberty in young women is occurring. There are biologically plausible mechanisms described in peer-reviewed research on fluoride that can link some of these effects to fluoride exposures (e.g. 3,4,5,6). Considering the economic and human costs of these conditions, we believe that Congress should order epidemiology studies that use dental fluorosis as an index of exposure to determine if there are links between such effects and fluoride over-exposure.
In the interim, while this epidemiology is conducted, we believe that a national moratorium on water fluoridation should be instituted. There will be a hue and cry from some quarters, predicting increased dental caries, but Europe has about the same rate of dental caries as the U.S. (7) and most European countries do not fluoridate (8). I am submitting letters from European and Asian authorities on this point. There are studies in the U.S. of localities that have interrupted fluoridation with no discernable increase in dental caries rates (e.g., 9). And people who want the freedom of choice to continue to ingest fluoride can do so by other means.
Cancer Bioassay Findings In 1990, the results of the National Toxicology Program cancer bioassay on sodium fluoride were published (10), the initial findings of which would have ended fluoridation. But a special commission was hastily convened to review the findings, resulting in the salvation of fluoridation through systematic down-grading of the evidence of carcinogenicity. The final, published version of the NTP report says that there is, “equivocal evidence of carcinogenicity in male rats,” changed from “clear evidence of carcinogenicity in male rats.”
The change prompted Dr. William Marcus, who was then Senior Science Adviser and Toxicologist in the Office of Drinking Water, to blow the whistle about the issue (22), which led to his firing by EPA. Dr. Marcus sued EPA, won his case and was reinstated with back pay, benefits and compensatory damages. I am submitting material from Dr. Marcus to the Subcommittee dealing with the cancer and neurotoxicity risks posed by fluoridation.
We believe the Subcommittee should call for an independent review of the tumor slides from the bioassay, as was called for by Dr. Marcus (22), with the results to be presented in a hearing before a Select Committee of the Congress. The scientists who conducted the original study, the original reviewers of the study, and the “review commission” members should be called, and an explanation given for the changed findings.
Brain Effects Research Since 1994 there have been six publications that link fluoride exposure to direct adverse effects on the brain. Two epidemiology studies from China indicate depression of I.Q. in children (11,12). Another paper (3) shows a link between prenatal exposure of animals to fluoride and subsequent birth of off-spring which are hyperactive throughout life. A 1998 paper shows brain and kidney damage in animals given the “optimal” dosage of fluoride, viz. one part per million (13). And another (14) shows decreased levels of a key substance in the brain that may explain the results in the other paper from that journal. Another publication (5) links fluoride dosing to adverse effects on the brain’s pineal gland and pre-mature onset of sexual maturity in animals. Earlier onset of menstruation of girls in fluoridated Newburg, New York has also been reported (6).
Given the national concern over incidence of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and autism in our children, we believe that the authors of these studies should be called before a Select Committee, along with those who have critiqued their studies, so the American public and the Congress can understand the implications of this work.
Fluoride as a Protected Pollutant The classic example of EPA’s protective treatment of this substance, recognized the world over and in the U.S. before the linguistic de-toxification campaign of the 1940’s and 1950’s as a major environmental pollutant, is the 1983 statement by EPA’s then Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, Rebecca Hanmer (15), that EPA views the use of hydrofluosilicic acid recovered from the waste stream of phosphate fertilizer manufacture as,
“…an ideal solution to a long standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid (sic) from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized, and water authorities have a low-cost source of fluoride…”
In other words, the solution to pollution is dilution, as long as the pollutant is dumped straight into drinking water systems and not into rivers or the atmosphere. I am submitting a copy of her letter.
Other Federal entities are also protective of fluoride. Congressman Calvert of the House Science Committee has sent letters of inquiry to EPA and other Federal entities on the matter of fluoride, answers to which have not yet been received.
We believe that EPA and other Federal officials should be called to testify on the manner in which fluoride has been protected. The union will be happy to assist the Congress in identifying targets for an inquiry. For instance, hydrofluosilicic acid does not appear on the Toxic Release Inventory list of chemicals, and there is a remarkable discrepancy among the Maximum Contaminant Levels for fluoride, arsenic and lead, given the relative toxicities of these substances.
Surgeon General’s Panel on Fluoride We believe that EPA staff and managers should be called to testify, along with members of the 1983 Surgeon General’s panel and officials of the Department of Human Services, to explain how the original recommendations of the Surgeon General’s panel (16) were altered to allow EPA to set otherwise unjustifiable drinking water standards for fluoride.
Kingston and Newburg, New York Results In 1998, the results of a fifty-year fluoridation experiment involving Kingston, New York (un-fluoridated) and Newburg, New York (fluoridated) were published (17). In summary, there is no overall significant difference in rates of dental decay in children in the two cities, but children in the fluoridated city show significantly higher rates of dental fluorosis than children in the un-fluoridated city.
We believe that the authors of this study and representatives of the Centers For Disease Control and EPA should be called before a Select Committee to explain the increase in dental fluorosis among American children and the implications of that increase for skeletal and other effects as the children mature, including bone cancer, stress fractures and arthritis.
Findings of Fact by Judges In three landmark cases adjudicated since 1978 in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas (18), judges with no interest except finding fact and administering justice heard prolonged testimony from proponents and opponents of fluoridation and made dispassionate findings of fact. I cite one such instance here.
In November, 1978, Judge John Flaherty, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, issued findings in the case, Aitkenhead v. Borough of West View, tried before him in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas. Testimony in the case filled 2800 transcript pages and fully elucidated the benefits and risks of water fluoridation as understood in 1978. Judge Flaherty issued an injunction against fluoridation in the case, but the injunction was overturned on jurisdictional grounds. His findings of fact were not disturbed by appellate action. Judge Flaherty, in a July, 1979 letter to the Mayor of Aukland New Zealand wrote the following about the case:
“In my view, the evidence is quite convincing that the addition of sodium fluoride to the public water supply at one part per million is extremely deleterious to the human body, and, a review of the evidence will disclose that there was no convincing evidence to the contrary…
“Prior to hearing this case, I gave the matter of fluoridation little, if any, thought, but I received quite an education, and noted that the proponents of fluoridation do nothing more than try to impune (sic) the objectivity of those who oppose fluoridation.”
In the Illinois decision, Judge Ronald Niemann concludes: “This record is barren of any credible and reputable scientific epidemiological studies and or analysis of statistical data which would support the Illinois Legislature’s determination that fluoridation of the water supplies is both a safe and effective means of promoting public health.”
Judge Anthony Farris in Texas found: “[That] the artificial fluoridation of public water supplies, such as contemplated by [Houston] City ordinance No. 80-2530 may cause or contribute to the cause of cancer, genetic damage, intolerant reactions, and chronic toxicity, including dental mottling, in man; that the said artificial fluoridation may aggravate malnutrition and existing illness in man; and that the value of said artificial fluoridation is in some doubt as to reduction of tooth decay in man.”
The significance of Judge Flaherty’s statement and his and the other two judges’ findings of fact is this: proponents of fluoridation are fond of reciting endorsement statements by authorities, such as those by CDC and the American Dental Association, both of which have long-standing commitments that are hard if not impossible to recant, on the safety and efficacy of fluoridation. Now come three truly independent servants of justice, the judges in these three cases, and they find that fluoridation of water supplies is not justified.
Proponents of fluoridation are absolutely right about one thing: there is no real controversy about fluoridation when the facts are heard by an open mind.
I am submitting a copy of the excerpted letter from Judge Flaherty and another letter referenced in it that was sent to Judge Flaherty by Dr. Peter Sammartino, then Chancellor of Fairleigh Dickenson University. I am also submitting a reprint copy of an article in the Spring 1999 issue of the Florida State University Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law by Jack Graham and Dr. Pierre Morin, titled “Highlights in North American Litigation During the Twentieth Century on Artificial Fluoridation of Public Water. Mr. Graham was chief litigator in the case before Judge Flaherty and in the other two cases (in Illinois and Texas).
We believe that Mr. Graham should be called before a Select Committee along with, if appropriate, the judges in these three cases who could relate their experience as trial judges in these cases.
Hydrofluosilicic Acid There are no chronic toxicity data on the predominant chemical, hydrofluosilicic acid and its sodium salt, used to fluoridate American communities. Newly published studies (19) indicate a link between use of these chemicals and elevated level of lead in children’s blood and anti-social behavior. Material from the authors of these studies has been submitted by them independently.
We believe the authors of these papers and their critics should be called before a Select Committee to explain to you and the American people what these papers mean for continuation of the policy of fluoridation.
Changing Views on Efficacy and Risk In recent years, two prominent dental researchers who were leaders of the pro-fluoridation movement announced reversals of their former positions because they concluded that water fluoridation is not an effective means of reducing dental caries and that it poses serious risks to human health. The late Dr. John Colquhoun was Principal Dental Officer of Aukland, New Zealand, and he published his reasons for changing sides in 1997 (20). In 1999, Dr. Hardy Limeback, Head of Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto, announced his change of views, then published a statement (21) dated April 2000. I am submitting a copy of Dr. Limeback’s publications.
We believe that Dr. Limeback, along with fluoridation proponents who have not changed their minds, such as Drs. Ernest Newbrun and Herschel Horowitz, should be called before a Select Committee to testify on the reasons for their respective positions.
Thank you for you consideration, and I will be happy to take questions.
1.Dental caries and dental fluorosis at varying water fluoride concentrations. Heller, K.E, Eklund, S.A. and Burt, B.A. J. Pub. Health Dent. 57 136-43 (1997).
2a. A brief report on the association of drinking water fluoridation and the incidence of osteosarcoma among young males. Cohn, P.D. New Jersey Department of Health (1992).
2b. Time trends for bone and joint cancers and osteosarcomas in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. National Cancer Institute. In: Review of fluoride: benefits and risks. Department of Health and Human Services.1991: F1-F7.
3.Neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride in rats. Mullenix, P.J., Denbesten, P.K., Schunior, A. and Kernan, W.J. Neurotoxicol. Teratol. 17 169-177 (1995)
4a. Fluoride and bone – quantity versus quality [editorial] N. Engl. J. Med. 322 845-6 (1990)
4b. Summary of workshop on drinking water fluoride influence on hip fracture and bone health. Gordon, S.L. and Corbin, S.B. Natl. Inst. Health. April 10, 1991.
5. Effect of fluoride on the physiology of the pineal gland. Luke, J.A. Caries Research 28 204 (1994).
6. Newburgh-Kingston caries-fluorine study XIII. Pediatric findings after ten years. Schlesinger, E.R., Overton, D.E., Chase, H.C., and Cantwell, K.T. JADA 52 296-306 (1956).
7. WHO oral health country/area profile programme. Department of Non-Communicable Diseases Surveillance/Oral Health. WHO Collaborating Centre, Malm” University, Sweden. URL:
8. Letters from government authorities in response to inquiries on fluoridation status by E. Albright. Eugene Albright: contact through J. W. Hirzy, P.O. Box 76082, Washington, D.C. 20013.
9. The effects of a break in water fluoridation on the development of dental caries and fluorosis. Burt B.A., Keels ., Heller KE. J. Dent. Res. 2000 Feb;79(2):761-9.
10. Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of sodium fluoride in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice. NTP Report No. 393 (1991).
11. Effect of high fluoride water supply on children’s intelligence. Zhao, L.B., Liang, G.H., Zhang, D.N., and Wu, X.R. Fluoride 29 190-192 (1996)
12. Effect of fluoride exposure on intelligence in children. Li, X.S., Zhi, J.L., and Gao, R.O. Fluoride 28 (1995).
13. Chronic administration of aluminum- fluoride or sodium-fluoride to rats in drinking water: alterations in neuronal and cerebrovascular integrity. Varner, J.A., Jensen, K.F., Horvath, W. And Isaacson, R.L. Brain Research 784 284-298 (1998).
14. Influence of chronic fluorosis on membrane lipids in rat brain. Z.Z. Guan, Y.N. Wang, K.Q. Xiao, D.Y. Dai, Y.H. Chen, J.L. Liu, P. Sindelar and G. Dallner, Neurotoxicology and Teratology 20 537-542 (1998).
15. Letter from Rebecca Hanmer, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, to Leslie Russell re: EPA view on use of by-product fluosilicic (sic) acid as low cost source of fluoride to water authorities. March 30, 1983.
16.Transcript of proceedings – Surgeon General’s (Koop) ad hoc committee on non-dental effects of fluoride. April 18-19, 1983. National Institutes of Health. Bethesda, MD.
17. Recommendations for fluoride use in children. Kumar, J.V. and Green, E.L. New York State Dent. J. (1998) 40-47.
18. Highlights in North American litigation during the twentieth century on artificial fluoridation of public water supplies. Graham, J.R. and Morin, P. Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law 14 195-248 (Spring 1999) Florida State University College of Law.
19. Water treatment with silicofluorides and lead toxicity. Masters, R.D. and Coplan, M.J. Intern. J. Environ. Studies 56 435-49 (1999).
20. Why I changed my mind about water fluoridation. Colquhoun, J. Perspectives in Biol. And Medicine 41 1-16 (1997).
21. Letter. Limeback, H. April 2000. Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto.
22.. Memorandum: Subject: Fluoride Conference to Review the NTP Draft Fluoride Report; From: Wm. L. Marcus, Senior Science Advisor ODW; To: Alan B. Hais, Acting Director Criteria & Standards Division Office of Drinking Water. May 1, 1990.