Why Greens oppose water fluoridation

, 10 September 2016, Tags:

There was a workshop at the autumn 2016 Conference where it was clear that members needed more information on why the Green Party opposes water fluoridation.  This is an important policy as this is a major pollutant with serious, sometimes deadly, health effects and a large number of people are being forced to drink water laced with a known toxin, fluoride. 

The average intelligent person who has not researched this tends to think that water fluoridation is OK or even good because it has been around for a long time, there are no health dangers and people have heard the pro-fluoride propaganda.  Below I will seek to give you a taste of the science, how we won a massive local campaign in Southampton, and hopefully motivate you to do something about it if you live in a fluoridated area.  This is an excellent campaign to take up. 

Twelve years ago I thought that water fluoridation was probably a ‘good thing’.  However the local Strategic Health Authority (SHA) announced that they intended to fluoridate much of Southampton where I live and I was asked by an activist friend to look into the science.  What I discovered was deeply shocking.  So much so that I helped to form Hampshire Against Fluoridation and was Chair of that group for most of the next eight years until we finally won what had grown into a colossal local campaign.

The water fluoridation proposal by law had to go to a Public Consultation and we made representations to the SHA that this had to be done properly.  To be fair the SHA did alter their very biased initial question linking water fluoridation to dental health benefits and instead put out a neutral question about whether people were in favour of water fluoridation or not.  However, from then on the health establishment fought a very dirty campaign.  They started with a thoroughly biased and scientifically wrong ‘Consultation Document’ (criticised by Lord Baldwinand others). This was touted extensively around the city in a roving campaign bus and at fixed presentations in key city locations. 

The local Health Authorities also played dirty by sending postcards to every affected household with a box to tick saying that they supported water fluoridation.  Postage was paid so all anyone needed to do was put their name and address on the card, tick the one box and post it.  There was no option offered to say that they did NOT support water fluoridation. 

The Health Authorities probably spent upwards of half a million pounds on the campaign whilst Hampshire Against Fluoridation (HAF) had to raise all our funds ourselves, which in total probably came to less than £5,000.  The health authorities were joined by many professional and health bodies funded by government to support their case and they put their full weight against us.   Clearly the odds were heavily stacked against HAF.  It was miles away from being a fair Public Consultation.

So who do you think won the referendum?  HAF did!  We WON.  72% of those who voted in the Local Referendum opposed water fluoridation.  It was a stunning victory.

How on earth did we win with the whole structure of government and their masses of money, their media tricks and supposed expertise all ranged against us?

Well we gathered a lot of members from across the political spectrum and used social media a lot.  We also did things like take a large petition to London.  One point of note is that much of the print, TV and radio media were very open to covering what we did, with the notable exception of the BBC.  The BBC acted like the mouthpiece of government, taking lots of the biased authority supplied footage and mainly ignoring HAF.  ITV gave HAF excellent coverage and did things like come with us on the train to No 10 for the petition and when the case went to Court. Other channels were more or less absent, although a German channel did cover us.

We always argued on a solid scientific basis.  People thought that the SHA would know the science best but they were shown again and again to be spinning the science.  Shockingly to me, the Health Authorities seemed highly ignorant of the research.  I can only think that this was due to the blinkers put on the whole health establishment due to a parliamentary vote in favour of fluoridation many years ago (more of that below).  HAF worked with top scientists and Professors from around the world many of whom publicly came out to support our case, including many who had done research in the area.  We even had Dr Arvid Carlsson, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine from Sweden who wrote in to support us.  We also had strong support from Professor Connett, an absolute hero, who flew in from North America several times to support HAF and to speak to our largest meetings. 

The SHA also set up ‘consultation’ question and answer sessions where they allowed us to be present the opposing case on the podium.  We wiped the floor with them scientifically.  The Department of Health kept sending top Dentists to argue their case who knew very little about non-teeth matters.  This was despite the fact that we repeatedly argued that the main health issues were not just around teeth, but in the rest of the body.  If you drink fluoride it affects the whole body, not just the teeth.

The most important Professor to join our cause was Professor Peckham who, luckily for us, lived in Southampton at the time.  He made sure that everything we said had scientific backing and we never exaggerated.  The science is so scary by itself that there is no need to exaggerate.   He even took over from me as Chairperson of HAF for a while.  As time went by we developed more credibility on this issue than the SHA.  We were shown to be right and the SHA claims were often shown to be scientifically unsupportable and clear spin.  

Pro fluoridation science is biased and of poor quality.  That is not just me saying that, the major Department of Health funded York review in 2000 said as much.  Initial studies were done by the fluoride industry and were far from independent.  Later studies did not verify the supposed benefits.  There are three main benefits claimed by the pro-fluoridation lobby are:

  1. Children at five years old have fewer cavities in their teeth in fluoridated areas.  They omit to say that the reason for this is that in fluoridated areas children’s teeth erupt around a year later than they should.2  Therefore at five years old the teeth have been out for less time and so have fewer cavities.  However this effect does not last for long and by the time the person is an adult there is no discernible difference.  There has been no study anywhere that has demonstrated benefits for teeth in adults from water fluoridation.  In fact it is the reverse as teeth are more brittle and tend to fall out more easily.  This supposed benefit in fact indicates that we are poisoning our children in fluoridated areas because it disrupts teeth formation (and much more).
  2. Lots of children have bad teeth and fluoridation can reduce this (cue their awful pictures of destroyed teeth in a young child’s mouth).  Almost invariably the awful teeth pictured are due to ‘bottle caries’ whereby dummies are put in children’s mouths and sweetened with something to keep the dummy in place.  It has nothing at all to do with whether the area is water fluoridated or not.  However pro-fluoridation lobbyists love to use the pictures of destroyed teeth for propaganda purposes to scare you.  This was about manipulating emotions.
  3. The health of teeth in xyz fluoridated area has improved massively since water fluoridation was introduced.  They omit to say that this has been equally the case in non-fluoridated areas as well.  Looking at the statistics there are NO meaningful differences between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas in this dental health improvement.  Something completely separate is going on.  In fact the areas with the best teeth (even in five year olds) are almost invariably non-fluoridated areas. 


Professor Sushila flew in from India to speak to the Department of Health on the dangers of water fluoridation that she had found.  It is well known that some areas of India have so bad fluoride poisoning that children grow up with hideously deformed limbs.  It has always been argued that whilst this is well known, lower doses should be safe.  Not so.  Professor Sushila showed that lower levels, equivalent to what was proposed to be added to our drinking water supply led to serious damage to the gut flora, sometimes resulting in IBS or similar symptoms and seriously inhibiting the effects of many enzymes. 

This chimed with the fact that the Netherlands has banned water fluoridation on the basis that it increased allergies and a lot of people are allergic to it (but people often do not realise the cause). Incidentally most of Europe has looked into water fluoridation and refused to contemplate it either due to its danger, or due to the immorality of forcing people to drink it in their water supply.  A few places tried water fluoridation and abandoned it.

However the intestinal disruption due to water fluoridation is just the start of its effect.  It also:

  • Results in dental fluorosis.  Around 48% of people in fluoridated areas get some form of dental fluorosis3.  In mild forms this shows as white flecks in the teeth and is seen as cosmetic.  However 12.5% is classed as serious in that the teeth are damaged with brown marks and pitting.  If you have dental fluorosis this is the clearest external signal that you have systemic fluoride poisoning (as admitted by the government).
  • Causes serious damage to thyroid glands 4.  This effect has been known for a hundred years and doctors before World War 2 used to prescribe fluoride to reduce hyper-thyroidism.  Putting the fluoride in the water at the same dose (as done) leads to hypo-thyroidism, which has a major effect on the body’s metabolic processes.  Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield of Thyroid UK , said Fluorine is thyrotoxic, mutagenic and immunosuppressive, so fluoridating the water “borders on criminal lunacy” 5
  • Results in brain damage6.  This has been demonstrated in several studies, particularly in China, with a reduction on average of a few IQ points.  It has also been linked strongly to increased Alzheimer’s disease, possibly because fluoride links with aluminium to make a very small molecule that can go through the blood brain barrier and damage the brain7.
  • Harms bones.  It is well known that bones are badly affected by fluoride, particularly in the form of calcium fluoride as found in India. At the levels of water fluoridation using hexafluorosilicic acid (which is what is used, delivering a very heavy load of fluorine ions), the effect over time is more brittle bones8.  This results in more breakages particularly as the fluoride accumulates in the body and the person gets older.  Around 50% of all the fluorine ingested does not leave the body but gradually builds up the toxic load. 9
  • Bone Cancer10,11 . More than one high quality study has shown that young men who grew up in fluoridated areas are five to six times more likely to get bone cancer (a killer of young men in the prime of their lives).  The Department of Health did become worried by this but did not see the same difference in their statistics (although there was a correlation).  I suspect the reason for not finding such a big difference in the UK is that our young men tend to leave home for further education or work or other reasons so a very high proportion present with bone cancer in a different location from where they were brought up.  The key exposure time is when boys have grown up in a fluoridated area during their puberty years.
  • There was a study showing that in US fluoridated cities had ten percent more cancers that non-fluoridated cities12.  This study was criticised because there are so many other factors that are at play it was not fair to say that it was fluoride that was the cause, and anyway fluoride is only implicated in some cancers, not all.  This study was later supported by other studies.
  • There are several other studies showing harm, such as more miscarriages13, hypersensitive reactions14, genetic damage15, pineal gland harm16, and heart damage17.  Basically as GCSE students should know, the fluorine ion is the most electronegative and reactive of all elements.  This means that even trace levels can have a significant adverse health effect.


This comes on to the big point that a lot of what I have described above is epidemiological evidence and those in favour of fluoride correctly say that association does not prove causation.  However it makes it highly likely to be the cause when it is found repeatedly so many times and the Precautionary Principle should be followed.  Pro fluoride people say that opposition must go through ‘gold standard’ science that proves that fluoride is the cause (whilst at the same time refusing to prove its safety). 

The problem is that ‘gold standard’ means human experiments using a double blind watertight methodology.   This is not possible for two reasons:

  1. It is unethical to experiment on humans expecting to cause irreversible harm, so it is not done.
  2. In order to replicate 50 years of exposure to water fluoridation in a relatively short experiment it would mean giving higher levels of fluoride to the experiment subjects than is safe. This higher level will almost certainly cause permanent harm to people, so it is not done.


So what can be done?  Animal experiments, and we all know the problems with these.  Nevertheless literally hundreds of experiments have been carried out on animals that demonstrate serious harm to animals when dosed with fluoride at the levels humans get exposed to in fluoridated areas. 

Dr Mullenix showed that the brain was damaged18.  Interestingly people in her laboratory tried to suppress her very valid and well run research.  We assume that this was done as the laboratory where she worked was funded by a toothpaste manufacturer and they were only supposed to publish research in favour of fluoride.  When the research did come out she lost her job.  The question is how many valid research studies have been supressed successfully by the industry.

Therefore the pro fluoride people can still say that epidemiology is not proof and animal studies are not proof. So their favourite saying is that there is ‘no proof’ of harm.    Interestingly the SHA stopped saying to us that there was no evidence of harm when we provided them with hundreds of high quality studies demonstrating harm. Instead they moved to the ‘no proof’ mantra.  So the science continues to pile up massively around them and eventually it will fall in on them whilst they still spin the pro-fluoride ‘science’ and mouth ‘no proof of harm’. This was the cigarette argument, the lead in petrol argument, and it took much too long before these massive health dangers were addressed.

Why did the SHA, who are meant to be evidence based health professionals, take this position?  For that you have to understand the history and how government works in Britain. 

Back in the 1960s there was little scientific evidence apart from that produced by the fluoride industry, which we now know to have been biased and low quality, i.e. highly unreliable.  The fertiliser industry, which produces the fluoride toxins, heavily lobbied politicians.  Millions of pounds a year of profit were at stake.  As there was no-one arguing the opposite case and the science was not clear that it was harmful, plus it seemed like a quick ‘techno-fix’ to bad teeth, the government supported water fluoridation.  It quickly started in places like Newcastle, Birmingham and the West Midlands. 

This political decision meant that water fluoridation was government policy and all government departments had to support it, including and especially the Department of Health.  Job descriptions included that the post holder would ‘support water fluoridation’.  All the subsidiary bodies were required to support water fluoridation.  So every government department, every QUANGO, every organisation with government funding had to, and has to, support water fluoridation.  A large number of these organisations were wheeled out in Southampton to support the SHA, all using exactly the same arguments as described above.  The felt obliged to do this.  If they do not then they risked disciplinary or financial measures for not following government policy.  That is the way the government bodies, and indeed government employees, are made to toe the line in the UK.

So this also flows down to places like the SHA.  The SHA have not looked seriously at the research basis as they rely on the policy and instructions from the Department of Health.  If the Department of Health policy is to fluoridate water as there is ‘no proof’ of harm’, then that is it as far as the SHA is concerned.  Evidence to the contrary was ignored, partly because there was so much of it that they decided not to go through it (yes, they admitted that they did not read our evidence). 

Furthermore when the people of Southampton voted by 72% to oppose water fluoridation, the SHA ignored the position that they would listen to local democracy and decided to go ahead anyway.  So much for local democracy - and so much for Public Consultation - it was all a complete sham.  It seems that if public consultation does not give the result they had campaigned so hard, so expensively and so dirtily to achieve, then they would ignore it.  This again seems to be a recurring theme in other formal Public Consultations.

However HAF still won and we cracked open the champagne.  There was uproar in Southampton and the local press took it up, with over 95% of letters sent to the Echo, the local paper, outraged by the SHA’s actions.  However the SHA did not seem to care about public opinion and sailed on, ignoring the people they were meant to be serving.  They seemed to be a law unto themselves and would not be moved.  Again, this is apparently a far too common theme. 

All this deeply damaged the reputation of the Health Authorities in Southampton.  We cheered when the SHA was abolished.  It also meant that water fluoridation was quietly dropped and Southampton remains free of the fluoride poison, at least for a while.  We suspect that the Health Authorities are prospecting for more compliant victims now.  Softening you up follows a standard planned pattern.

Sadly water fluoridation is still in place in around 10% of Britain.  It is high time that local Green Parties in these areas picked up the ‘stop water fluoridation’ banner.  You may not think that you personally are damaged by the fluoride (yet), but it is building up inside you all the time and you risk level of serious health problems in later life is significantly higher. 

There is a health scandal waiting to be uncovered in your area.  Get hold of the data using carefully focussed freedom of information queries.  When you find elevated levels in your areas of what is affected by fluoride do not accept the standard explanation that it could be down to several factors.  A BIG factor is water fluoridation.  If the science is right this is affecting people’s health very badly and it is a matter of looking for that in the statistics.  We need to demonstrate this convincingly to the people in your area. 

The science is saying that people are dying, and we are not talking about small numbers.  If the cancer correlation is due to fluoride then it is thousands of people per year in the UK.  

Show how people have been hoodwinked for years and the evidence has been ignored by the authorities.  You can win, you can gain enormous credibility, but do it based on good science and not on scare mongering.  As I said before, the science is scary enough and you do not need to exaggerate. 



John Spottiswoode

Southampton and District Green Party

Ex-Chairperson of Hampshire Against Fluoridation



Note that I have only included sources relating directly to the above.  This is not intended as an exhaustive list.  If all the good quality scientific study references were added this would cover many pages.

  1. Lord Baldwin: South Central Strategic Health Authority Consultation Paper on Water Fluoridation (2008): A Critique
  2. Over 50 studies show that fluoridation delays teeth eruption.  So in fluoridated areas this delay can be anywhere from 0.7 years (Virtanen et al, 1994) to 2 years (Campagna et al, 1995).  Confirmed by a meta-analysis of these studies by H.Limeback of the University of Toronto, Canada   Also in 1979, Drs L. Krook and G.A. Maylin stated: "The delay in the eruption of the permanent teeth has also been reported in children in fluoridated communities." "Fluoride arrests resorption of deciduous tooth roots and of the supporting bone. By inducing one disease [fluorosis], delays the manifestations of another [dental caries]."  In addition Fluoride causes a delay in tooth eruption of roughly a year. Children aged 5 living in fluoridated areas should be compared with children aged 4 living in non-fluoridated areas. When this is done there is no benefit from water fluoridation.
  3. York Review 2000 estimated the prevalence of fluorosis (all levels of severity) to be 48% in fluoridated areas and 15% in non-fluoridated areas. 1998 survey showed 12.5% in categories of concern, i.e. 1 in 8 get brown or pitted teeth.
  4. British Dental Journal 219, 429 - 431 (2015) Published online: 13 November 2015 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2015.841 Fluoridation and hypothyroidism – a commentary - Peckham et al.
  5. Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield, Thyroid UK: Fluorine is a factor in causing iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. Fluorine damages enzymes and their activities at levels below 1ppm. The toxic effect of fluorine switches off the uptake into the cells of the active thyroid hormones. Fluorine competes for receptor sites in the thyroid gland. This leads to inevitable progressive failure of the thyroid system as the fluorides accumulate.
  6. Xiang et al 2003, IQ in children lowered at 1.8 ppm fluoride in water. Several studies have shown that exposure to fluoride can cause behavioural changes (Int Clin Psychopharmacol, 1994; 9: 79-82; Neurotoxicol and Teratol, 1995; 17: 169-77; Fluoride, 1996; 29: 187-8).
  7. Dr Isaacson, State University of New York – rats fed with Aluminium Fluoride developed characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. Trace amounts of fluorine can affect regulatory messages across cellular membranes (Li, 2003)
  8. Hip fractures: At least ten studies since 1990 have found an association between hip fracture and drinking water at fluoride levels < 1.2 ppm.
  9. Each day only about 50% of ingested fluorine is excreted in the urine. What is not excreted accumulates in our bodies, often into the bones and glands, causing damage. With steady daily exposure, even at low levels, bone concentrations of fluorine increase enormously with age. Damage to children’s bones at 1 ppm was observed in one of the first fluoridation trials in 1956 and has been found regularly ever since. Skeletal fluorosis occurs if 2 to 80 ppm of fluoride is ingested daily for a period of more than 10 years. (Casarett & Doull, 1986). The issue then becomes how 1 ppm in water will affect people over a longer period (e.g. 20 years or more) and how other sources of fluoride will increase the effective dose.
  10. Cohn (NJ Department of Health) found a six fold greater incidence in osteosarcomas in young men (but not young women) in fluoridated communities compared with non-fluoridated communities. Cohn PD. A brief report on the association of drinking water fluoridation and the incidence of osteosarcoma among young males. N J Dept of Hlth, Trenton, New Jersey. Nov 8, 1992.
  11. Bassin 2001 Risk of osteosarcoma five times greater among boys drinking fluoridated water (attempted suppression of the research). A recent study found that in the fluoridated Republic of Ireland, 40% more people contracted bone cancer than in non-fluoridated Northern Ireland.
  12. 1977 Burk-Yiamouyiannis show cancer death rates in the 10 largest fluoridated U.S. cities were higher and rose faster vs. the 10 largest non-fluoridated U.S. cities after corrections for age, race, and sex. After 20 years there were 10% more cancer deaths in the fluoridated cities. Other studies claim 4% to 40% higher cancer rates.
  13. Fluoride is linked to more still births and miscarriages (Professor A Sushila).
  14. Feltman and Kossel, 1961 - 1% of the population are hypersensitive to fluoride at 1 mg per day. The current exposure for adults living in fluoridated areas is  1.6 - 6.6 mg per day.  Many people in newly fluoridated areas report feeling ill with nausea, diarrhoea & cystitis, only getting well when they drink un-fluoridated water. Examples: Netherlands (double blind trial found 5% sensitive). Andover, Hampshire, UK.  Fluoridation rejected in 1956 following an outcry over hypersensitive/allergic reactions.  Symptoms disappeared when non-fluoridated water was drunk in a double blind way.
  15. Six separate studies have found that fluoride causes genetic mutations in humans (Meng 1995, 1997; Lazutka 1999; Sheth 1994; Wu 1995; Joseph 2000); additional studies show that humans appear to be more sensitive to the genotoxicity of fluoride than rodents (Kishi 1993).
  16. The pineal gland in the brain (where serotonin and melatonin are produced) is a calcifying tissue. Research by Dr Jennifer Luke established that fluoride accumulated to high levels in the pineal gland. In animal studies, she showed that this led to the reduced production of melatonin (because the fluoride inhibited the enzymes needed to produce it), and that, in turn, caused the earlier onset of puberty.
  17. Damage to the hearts of children drinking water with a fluoride content as low as 0.5 ppm (R Ziegelbecker et al, Emu Verglas Gmbh, Austria: Lahnstein, 1995:43)
  18. Mullenix et al 1995 Fluoride concentrated in rat brains, Rats dosed before birth were “hyperactive”, Rats dosed after birth were “hypoactive”. Predicted possible lowering of IQ in children. Demonstrated that the presence of fluoride caused more aluminum to cross the blood-brain barrier and be deposited in the brain of rats.

Regional News

Check out www.segreens.org.uk for all Regional News.

Follow us on Facebook