It took decades to "prove" that even low-level lead exposure caused mental retardation and behavioral problems in children. In 1973 when I graduated from medical school, there was a mountain of compelling evidence of the terrible things lead in paint and auto exhaust was doing to kids. However under pressure from corporate interests (the companies who put lead in gasoline and paint), the medical establishment still officially proclaimed that at "subclinical levels," lead was totally safe.
Fortunately Nixon's newly created Environmental Protection Agency stood up to the corporate elite in 1973. Taking the emphatic position that even low-level lead exposure was posing a direct threat to public health, they ultimately forced the US auto industry (in 1975) to install catalytic converters in cars, to enable them to run on unleaded fuel. The use of lead-based paint in homes was banned in 1978.
A Regulatory Agency that Refuses to Regulate
Unfortunately, despite overwhelming evidence that fluoride has the same effect as lead in lab animals and children, In 2010 the EPA has virtually ceased to perform any meaningful regulatory function. Which is most unfortunate, given that many US municipalities still put fluoride in the public drinking water (which can't be removed by simple filtration and is found in many brands of bottled water).
It boggles the mind that communities across the US continue to mass medicate their residents without their consent -" with a substance that has never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (it's actually unpurified toxic waste from the agricultural phosphate industry and contains heavy metals and radionucleotides). Not only does this constitute a major civil rights infringement, but it poses far more danger to human health than the TSA full body scanners at airports.
Established Link to Hip Fractures, Bone Cancer and Liver Cancer
The evidence linking water fluoridation to hip fractures, bone cancer, and liver cancer is unequivocal. In 2006, after three years of study, doctors, chemists, toxicologists and other researchers appointed by the National Research Council concluded the preponderance of evidence showed that water fluoridation was causing an increase in hip fractures and bone and liver cancer, in addition to its neurotoxic effects in children (see http://www.fluoridealert.org/nrc-review.htm). They also found strong evidence that it was contributing to an epidemic of hypothyroidism, infertility and arthritis in Americans (1/3 of Americans suffer from arthritis). However they felt more research was needed in these areas. Nevertheless they felt the established health risks were so serious, they strongly recommended all water fluoridation be stopped while additional studies were completed. There is an excellent 98 minute interview with some of these scientists at http://blip.tv/file/2223981/.
One area they didn't explore, which BBC investigative journalist Christopher Bryson covers in his 2004 book Fluoride Deception, is the systematic way that corporate interests have "doctored" fluoride research. One common practice was to selectively publish research favorable to fluoride, while simultaneously firing and blacklisting scientists whose studies showed otherwise. Scientists who research medical problems related to genetically modified foods face the same problem -" their work is suppressed, while they themselves are fired and blacklisted. Thanks to Bryson others, who obtained dozens of secret documents regarding water fluoridation via the Freedom of Information Act, the full extent of this massive fraud is finally in the public domain.
The Decision to Fluoridate the Public Water Supply
As Christopher Bryson outlines in Fluoride Deception, the decision to deliberately dose US municipal water systems with a potent industrial toxin was basically a corporate scam dreamed up by Alcoa, General Motors, and DuPont in the thirties and forties - to stem a tide of lawsuits related to death and injuries from toxic fluoride pollution (by convincing the public that fluoride is good for you). Alcoa was involved because fluoride is an extremely toxic pollutant produced by aluminum smelting. GM and DuPont were involved because GM held the patent on fluoride-based Freon (DuPont manufactured it), a common refrigerant which has since been banned. Unsurprisingly the same corporate researchers who "proved" that fluoride was safe also tried to convince the American public that lead, asbestos, smoking and plutonium were safe.
Fluoride Declared Hazardous Waste in 1930
According to Bryson, scientists have known for decades that fluoride is extremely toxic - in fairly low doses - to all mammals, including humans. In fact the FDA first declared fluoride a serious health hazard in the early thirties. The result was scores of lawsuits by aluminum workers crippled and killed by fluoride poisoning and by farmers near aluminum plants, whose livestock were killed by fluoride emissions.
Public Relations: Cheaper than Pollution Controls
Rather than encouraging his employer to institute pollution controls, an Alcoa researcher named Francis Frary decided a better solution was to alter public perception of fluoride - by convincing Americans that it improved dental health. Frary approached Mellon Institute researcher Gerald Cox, who performed a single study in rats (who don't really suffer much tooth decay) in 1937 and "proved" that fluoride strengthened teeth. Around the same time, the same Gerald Cox also "proved" that mesothelioma (a rare lung cancer that killed Steve McQueen) wasn't caused by asbestos.