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Fluoridated Water: Citizens Fight Back:

On November 26, 2007, Santa Monica’s water supply began receiving fluoride, joining many other local communities in Southern California and across the nation. While many dentists hail the practice of fluoridating water, an increasing number of activists believe fluoride is unhealthy and that it has been introduced into our drinking water supply in an undemocratic fashion.

Gene Burke has been organizing citizens against fluoridation since he founded the Santa Monica for Safe Drinking Water Coalition in 2002. With the local water now being fluoridated, he has been increasing his efforts to reverse the pro-fluoride trend.

“From an abundance of sound scientific, legalistic, and ethical reasons, and after rigorous inquiry, I find nearly unanimous consensus among professionals in our national networks of this: that the safety and effectiveness for mass artificial fluoridation is based mostly on false premises,” says Burke.

At a forum organized by Burke on February 16, concerned activists heard from a scientific authority, Dr. Paul Connett, who gave a presentation on fluoride’s effects and the history of its use in drinking water.

“I’ve been in this [battle] for 11 years now,” said Dr. Connett, who teaches environmental chemistry and toxicology. “It’s the most frustrating battle I’ve ever been in.”

He enumerated the anti-fluoride movement’s arguments against fluoridation, among them, that, despite claims by the dental profession, there is no evidence that fluoride aids in dental health, communities that have discontinued fluoridation have shown no decrease in dental health, the US Food and Drug Administration has never approved fluoride products for ingestion, and there is considerable evidence that fluoride is unhealthful to ingest. Also, the American Dental Association recently issued a warning that fluoridated water should not be used in infant formulas or foods.

Most significantly, in terms of ethics, the mandated fluoridation of drinking water in communities that have not had a voice in the process violates the principle which prohibits a doctor from forcing an individual patient to take medication.

Dr. Connett urged those in attendance to go to his website,, to sign copies of a professionals’ statement calling for an end to fluoridation and to “network!”

Also at the forum, Burke cited a recent incident reported in the Topanga Messenger. A local anti-fluoridation group called Coastal Citizens for Safe Drinking Water asked County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to put a halt to the Metropolitan Water District’s (MWD) fluoridation in Topanga and Malibu. While Yaroslavsky was unable to stop the fluoridation process, he agreed to ask that the product review data submitted for certification of the process be made available to the public.

According to the Messenger article, the certifying agency was a private trade association called the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), which had taken over certifying water additives since the EPA stopped doing so in the late 1990s. The NSF refused County Counsel’s request to see the documents.

Coastal Citizens for Safe Drinking Water have continued to talk with Yaroslavsky about making the MWD accountable for the product safety data of its drinking water.

Burke has taken encouragement from the actions of the Topanga-Malibu group. He is attempting now to bring together activists from six counties that receive fluoridated water (residents of three counties attended the February 16 forum), and is urging people to use phone trees to keep in touch and to contact their local media outlets to get coverage for the anti-fluoridation cause.

But while he agrees with Dr. Connett that anti-fluoridation activists must educate themselves in order to counter the pro-fluoride arguments, Burke concludes, “The burden of proof for health safety for mass forced fluoridation rests upon the shoulders of the fluoridators, not upon those of the fluoridated.”

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