As the National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences) points out in their 2006 report, establishing unequivocal proof that fluoride damages children brains could take a decade or more. I've already been through the heartache of persuading government authorities that lead poisoning causes brain damage in children. In the three decades it took to convince them to ban lead-based paint and petrol additives, hundreds of thousands of new children were left with intellectual handicap, learning disabilities, autism and other irreversible and untreatable health conditions.
The EPA Commissions the NRC to Review the Research
In 2003 the EPA commissioned the NRC to examine all the peer reviewed research to make a determination whether an upper limit of 8 mg of fluoride (eight glasses of water with a fluoride concentration of 4 mg/litre) was still within the margin of safety. The NRC came back with the recommendation that 8 mg (4 mg/litre) was definitely too high -- as patients were experiencing clear symptoms of chronic fluoride poisoning at this dose. Based on the high probability that Americans drinking fluoridated water were suffering serious and irreversible health damage, they also urgently recommended that the EPA ban water fluoridation until the safe threshold (based on urine fluoride measurements) could be determined.
Dental Fluorosis in 41% of American Teenagers
In their report, the NRC expressed grave concern over the high incidence of low level fluoride poisoning in children and teenagers, manifested by dental fluorosis. This is an irreversible condition causing demineralization of the teeth, characterized by staining, pitting and flaking. According to 2011 CDC figures, dental fluorosis is present in 41% of American children drinking fluoridated water (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db53.htm).
Studies of the biochemical processes that cause fluorosis demonstrate quite clearly that it's an irreversible demineralization of the tooth enamel. Despite claims to the contrary, this is not merely a "cosmetic" problem. As the European Union Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Research reports in their 2010-2011 review, there are peer reviewed studies linking it with Stage II skeletal fluorosis -- a demineralization of the bones causing a weakening of the bone matrix.
The Bush EPA Declines to Act
Under the extremely anti-scientific administration of George W. Bush, the EPA totally ceased to perform any regulatory function in maintaining clear air or water standards. Their failure to act on the NRC's urgent recommendations resulted in highly publicized protest action by eleven EPA unions representing over 7000 environmental and public health professionals
The following is from their 2005 press release:
"Studies in animals and human populations suggest that fluoride exposure, at levels that are experienced by a significant proportion of the population whose drinking water is fluoridated, may have adverse impacts on the developing brain. Though no final conclusions may be reached from available data, the findings are provocative and of significant public health concern. Perhaps most surprising is the relative sparseness of data addressing the central question of whether or not this chemical, which is intentionally added to drinking water, may interfere with normal brain development and function. Focused research should address this important matter urgently." (http://www.nteu280.org/Issues/Fluoride/Press%20Release.%20Fluoride.htm)
Below are perspectives of NRC panel members on their three year review:
"The difference between the levels of fluoride causing toxic effects and the levels added to water to prevent tooth decay is vanishingly small and deeply troubling." Dr. J. William Hirzy, Vice President, Environmental Protection Agency's Headquarters Union, Washington DC.
"l personally feel that the NRC report is relevant to many aspects of the water fluoridation debate" [T]he report discusses the wide range of drinking water intake among members of the population, which means that groups with different fluoride concentrations in their drinking water may still have overlapping distributions of individual fluoride exposure. In other words, the range of individual fluoride exposures at 1 mg/L will overlap the range of individual exposures at 2 mg/L or even 4 mg/L. Thus, even without consideration of differences in individual susceptibility to various effects, the margin of safety between 1 and 4 mg/L is very low." Dr. Kathleen Thiessen, NRC Panel Member.
"In my opinion, the evidence that fluoridation is more harmful than beneficial is now overwhelming and policy makers who avoid thoroughly reviewing recent data before introducing new fluoridation schemes do so at risk of future litigation." Dr. Hardy Limeback, NRC Panel Member.