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Every fall, a significant number of dutiful homeowners get out their rakes, gather leaves into piles and pack them into giant bags to be hauled off to landfills. This yard waste may seem like an innocuous addition to the waste that’s added to U.S. landfills each year, but it quickly adds up.
Yard trimmings, which include grass, leaves, and tree and brush trimmings, accounted for 34.7 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2015, which is 13.3% of total MSW.1 Some of these yard trimmings ended up being composted via state and municipal programs, but 10.8 million tons of yard trimmings still ended up in landfills that year, comprising 7.8% of MSW added to landfills.2
Not only do leaves add to the high volume of waste already being sent to landfills, but when they break down, they release damaging methane gas into the environment. “The worst thing you can do is put (leaves) in bags and send them to landfills,” David Mizejewski, a naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), told USA Today.3
Leaves Are a Perfect Fertilizer
Fallen leaves act as a natural mulch that will break down and fertilize the soil while helping to keep weeds in check. While it’s true that a thick layer of leaves can smother your lawn, this is easily remedied by running over them with your lawn mower. If there are a lot of leaves, it may take several passes with your mower to get them to a small enough size, such that the shredded bits fall between the blades of grass.
Because this acts as a natural form of fertilizer, you won’t need to add more in the fall, which can reduce the amount of chemical fertilizers added to lawns. Further, leaves mulched into your lawn will help to reduce fertilizer runoff, which has become a problem for waterways, leading to algal blooms that are harming wildlife.4
If there is still a thick layer even after mulching them via your lawnmower, rake up the remainder and spread it as mulch under trees and shrubs and in flower beds and your vegetable garden. While you can also use whole leaves for this purpose, the shredded texture allows the leaves to break down faster while making them less likely to blow away. It’s unnecessary to throw away this valuable and free fertilizer.
Sharon Yiesla, plant knowledge specialist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune, “Most people rake leaves because they assume that’s what you’re supposed to do, or because they think leaves are untidy … They don’t realize how valuable the leaves are to plants or how useful they can be in the garden.”5
For leaves that fall under trees or shrubs, simply leave them be, as would occur in a forest. By spring, the leaves will be mostly broken down, making your soil easier for roots to penetrate and better draining.6
If you have a large pile of leaves, you can also simply let it be for a year or two, after which time it will break down into leaf mold, a soil amendment that improves soil structure and water retention. It’s so valuable the Morton Arboretum uses it as mulch in its ornamental plant beds.7 Mizejewski added:8
“Fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own?”
Leaf Litter Is Important Wildlife Habitat
Sending leaves to a landfill creates unnecessary waste and removes what could be a nourishing, free fertilizer from your yard. At the same time, by removing fallen leaves, you’re taking away leaf litter that many creatures rely on for their very survival.
Turtles, toads, birds and mammals such as bats use leaf litter for food, shelter and nesting material. Insects, including moth and butterfly caterpillars, also rely on leaf litter to overwinter. According to Mizejewski in an NWF blog:9
“The leaf layer is its own mini-ecosystem! Many wildlife species live in the leaf layer as their primary habitat — including salamanders, chipmunks, wood frogs, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, millipedes and many insects species.
Many butterfly and moth species overwinter in leaf litter such as luna moths, great spangled fritillaries, woolly bear caterpillars (which become Isabella tiger moths) and red-banded hairstreaks.
Some overwinter as eggs, some as pupae and some as adults. If you rake up and throw away all of your leaves this fall, you’ll be getting rid of these beautiful and beneficial insects, many of which are pollinators.”
It was recently revealed that 2.9 billion Canadian and U.S. birds have been lost over the last 48 years,10 including not only rare species but also common birds at backyard feeders, such as sparrows, warblers, finches and blackbirds.11 Leaving leaf litter in your yard is one way to help protect these and other declining wildlife species. “This is wildlife conservation on the scale of your lawn,” Mizejewski said.12
Avoid Leaf Blowers
If you do need to move around the leaves in your backyard, use a rake — not a leaf blower, which is a source of noise pollution that could even damage your hearing. According to Nancy Napolitano, interim director of audiology at St. Luke’s University Health Network, more people are arriving with noise-induced hearing loss than in years past, many of them in their 50s and younger.13
It is believed hearing damage is triggered at 85 dB of exposure for approximately eight hours. To compare, traffic noise inside your car measures 80 dB, while a leaf blower can measure between 90 and 115 dBs depending on the device. Exposure to 90 dBs of noise for two hours can trigger hearing damage.
While wearing ear protection can buffer some of this risk, wearing a leaf blower strapped to your back may also increase your risk of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). Many are also gas-powered, and some U.S. cities have banned them due to concerns over noise and air pollution.14
Leaves Make a Valuable Brown Addition to Compost
If you have a compost pile or bin, fallen leaves are a welcome addition and act as “brown material” that should form the bulk of the compost. The key to creating compost without unpleasant odors or attracting rodents lies in its makeup. It’s not an exact science but should include a mix of browns and greens, such as:15
|Browns (2 to 3 parts)||Greens (1 part)|
Shredded newspaper and other paper
Fruit and vegetable scraps
Breads and grains
Food-soiled paper (but not coated paper)
Coffee grounds and filters, tea bags
Branches and twigs
As an added benefit, when you create a compost heap in your yard you can add not only fallen leaves but also kitchen scraps. Food waste is the second largest component of waste sent to U.S. landfills, making up 18% of the waste stream, according to the U.S. EPA.16 By composting, you’re not only keeping your share of food waste out of landfills, but you’re also helping to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil.
Compost regenerates the soil and in so doing supports the future of our food supply, human health and the planet as a whole, while providing a free and simple way for you to repurpose fallen leaves in your yard.
Benefits of Johnson-Su Bioreactor Compost
The video above shows the Johnson-Su Composting Bioreactor. David Johnson, a molecular biologist and research scientist at the University of New Mexico, believes one of the most critical things in a plant’s life is its relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. This is why tillage is so detrimental, as it destroys the mycorrhizal fungi and disrupts or inhibits this symbiotic relationship between plants and soil biology.
Synthetic chemicals also have a very destructive effect as they create massive pH changes in the soil that kill microbial life. As a result of industrial agriculture and other human activities, one-third of the soil on Earth is severely degraded17 and lacking in the beneficial microorganisms it needs to thrive.
Adding compost is one effective strategy for reintroducing such microorganism to the soil, and Johnson has developed a no-turn composting system that allows fungal communities to flourish, helping to restore biological function to soil on both small and large farms.
Johnson is conducting a range of soil-biology experiments that have shown immense benefits from the application of biologically enhanced compost, which has a clay-like consistency and can be applied as an extract, slurry to coat seeds or as a direct soil amendment.18
The Johnson-Su Composting Bioreactor, created by Johnson and his wife, Hui-Chun Su Johnson, is unique in that, unlike traditional composting methods, it requires no turning or manual labor.
It also produces no odors, reduces water usage and composting labor and can be produced using materials that costs less than $35. “This simple composting method produces a biologically enhanced compost by creating an environment where beneficial soil microorganisms and thrive and multiply,” Regeneration International reported.19
“When this biologically alive compost is applied to the soil the microorganisms inoculate the soil and work in harmony with growing plants to improve soil health and increase the amount of carbon drawn out of the atmosphere and into the soil.” They explained some of the top benefits of Johnson-Su bioreactor compost, which include:20
Increases soil carbon sequestration
Increases crop yield
Increases soil nutrient availability
Increases soil water-retention capacity
Produces biologically diverse compost
Produces nutrient-rich compost
Results in a low-salinity compost
Improves seed germination and growth rates
Put Fallen Leaves to Work in Your Yard
Instead of spending hours raking leaves in your yard, let the fallen leaves work the way nature intended, acting as insulation, a source of nutrients and habitat for critters. Adding them to your compost bin is an ideal solution, one that will reward you with a rich soil amendment that you can apply to your gardens come spring.
However, mulching the leaves by running them over with your lawnmower can also add innumerable benefits to your lawn. When shredded into small pieces and allowed to return into the lawn canopy, different leaf types offer different benefits. For instance, maple leaves reduce weed seed germination while honey locust leaves are known for adding nitrogen to lawns.21
One study even noted, “mulched leaves, regardless of maple species, reduced dandelion counts by up to 84% after a single application.”22 So no matter which method you choose — mulching, composting or creating leaf mold — let the fallen leaves in your yard work for you, not against you.
“Leaves cover up root systems, preserve soil moisture, suppress weeds and other plants. They also slowly break down and … return (essential) nutrients to plants,” Mizejewski told USA Today. “It’s a perfect system. Nothing is wasted in nature.”23
For many years now, I’ve written about the health hazards posed by cured meats, which are high in nitrates. As explained in “Top 9 Reasons to Optimize Your Nitric Oxide Production,” not all dietary nitrates are the same.
While nitrates from plant foods promote beneficial nitric oxide production in your body, processed meats trigger conversion of nitrates into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds.1 Nitrates from plants turn into beneficial nitric oxide due to the presence of antioxidants such as vitamin C and polyphenols, which are absent in processed meats.
Nitrates and nitrites are used to cure (preserve) processed meats of all kinds, and studies have repeatedly found they raise your risk of colorectal cancer, even at relatively small amounts.2,3,4,5,6
The World Cancer Research Fund7 has since 2007 warned against eating processed meat, defined as “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation,” due to its cancer risk. The American Institute for Cancer Research also recommends avoiding processed meats for this reason.8
Don’t Trust Nitrate-Free Labels
If you’re an avid label reader, chances are you’ve been swayed by processed meat products (either conventional or organic) labeled as “no nitrates or nitrites added,” “no nitrite” or “uncured,” thinking they must be a healthier option.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. An August 29, 2019, article9 in Consumer Reports highlights a regulatory loophole that allows such labels to mislead consumers. As it turns out, processed meat products labeled as nitrite-free do in fact contain nitrites and are no healthier than other processed meats. This is one of the dirty little secrets that has been kept hush-hush within the organic industry.
“‘Thanks to the topsy-turvy world of government food labeling rules, ‘no nitrites’ doesn’t mean no nitrites,’ says Charlotte Vallaeys, senior food and nutrition policy analyst at CR.
Instead, it means that the nitrates and nitrites used to ‘cure’ — or preserve and flavor — meat come from celery or other natural sources, not synthetic ones, such as sodium nitrate or nitrite,” Consumer Report writes.10
“To further confuse matters, ‘their chemical composition is absolutely the same, and so are the health effects,’ says Joseph Sebranek, Ph.D., Morrison Endowed Chair in meat science at Iowa State University …
Nitrates and nitrites prevent bacterial growth and give deli meat its distinctive color and flavor. But there’s a downside. Nitrates convert to nitrites, and when nitrites interact with protein, that creates compounds called nitrosamines — which may cause cancer.”
Testing reveals so-called “uncured” meats don’t even contain lower amounts of nitrites. Whether cured with nitrates and nitrites from natural sources or synthetic ones, the average levels found in chicken, ham, roast beef, turkey and salami were the same.
Together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Reports has filed a petition11 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, calling on the agency to “stop requiring the terms ‘Uncured’ and ‘No Nitrate or Nitrite Added’ on labels for meat processed with nitrates or nitrites from nonsynthetic sources, such as celery powder,” as such labels are “misleading and may give consumers the false impression that these products are healthier.”12
The Celery Powder Nitrate Scam
But the nitrate scam actually goes deeper than this. Most organic processed meats (whether labeled nitrite-free or not) are cured using celery powder, which isn’t organic. Here, yet another loophole is at play.
As it turns out, nonorganic celery powder is exempt from organic standards altogether, meaning an organic product is allowed to contain nonorganic celery powder and still qualify as 100% organic.13,14
You might wonder what the big deal about that is. The problem is that part of the technique used to produce conventional celery powder is the extra loading of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, which the celery plant is very adept at taking up. This makes conventional celery powder a very rich source of nitrate15 — far richer than organic celery powder.16
In April 2019 the Organic Trade Association submitted a comment17 to the National Organic Standards Board saying it is “committed to help the industry innovate and proactively take steps” to replace conventional celery powder with organic celery powder.
However, in the meantime, allowing nonorganic celery powder to be used in organic processed meats must be allowed to continue, or else organic processed meats simply cannot be sold.
The problem is that without nitrogen-loading, organic celery is unlikely to contain high-enough amounts of nitrate to do the job well. The curing process not only affects flavor but also and, more importantly, preserves the meat, giving it a longer and more stable shelf-life.
Truly uncured meats are prone to uncontrolled growth of dangerous pathogens responsible for foodborne illness, such as botulism. In fact, the use of synthetic sodium nitrite in meat products was in large part driven by the need to inhibit Clostridium botulinum bacteria,18 and research has shown that the higher the sodium nitrite level in the processed meat, the greater the inhibition of C. botulinum.19,20,21
As noted in “Investigating the Microbiological Safety of Uncured No Nitrate or Nitrite Added Processed Meat Products,” a 2010 graduate thesis and dissertation by Armitra Lavette Jackson:22
“Natural and organic processed meats may require additional protective measures in order to consistently provide the same level of safety from bacterial pathogens that is achieved by conventionally cured meat products.”
Celery Powder Just as Hazardous as Synthetic Nitrates
The conundrum here is that while organic processed meats are generally thought to be healthier, and “uncured” or “nitrate free” especially so, as Consumer Reports points out there’s really no difference between synthetic nitrates and (conventionally-grown) celery powder in terms of their ability to morph into carcinogenic compounds.
Since organic celery powder simply doesn’t have the functional attributes of conventional celery powder, they’re not interchangeable.23 But even more importantly, even if a functional organic celery powder could be produced, the nitrates will still render the organic meat carcinogenic in character, as you cannot remove the protein from the meat. (Remember, carcinogenic nitrosamines are a byproduct of nitrites combining with protein.)
So, here’s the problem in a nutshell: Organic processed meats are not allowed to be cured with synthetic nitrates, as the danger of nitrosamines are widely recognized.
But “natural” nitrate in the form of celery powder is permitted, and this despite the fact that conventional celery is loaded with synthetic high-nitrogen fertilizer,24 and the net effect on health is identical.
In addition to synthetic fertilizer, nonorganic celery powder may also contain traces of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. For these reasons, organic leaders insist celery powder must be taken off the organic exemption list.25
Since 2016, the University of Wisconsin in collaboration with The Organic Center and the Organic Trade Association have been working to identify organic crops that might serve as suitable curing agents to replace nonorganic celery powder.26 As of yet, no suitable replacement has been found though.
Beyond Pesticides Weighs In
In its September 17, 2019, comment27 to the National Organic Standards Board, Beyond Pesticides urged the board not to relist celery powder (along with several other nonorganic ingredients). The many reasons for their objection to retaining celery powder on the list of approved ingredients in organic foods are summarized as follows:
“Beyond Pesticides opposes the relisting of celery powder. Its production in chemical-intensive agriculture results in health and environmental hazards.
In considering the relisting of celery powder on §205.606, the NOSB must consider (a) whether its use is a direct violation of OFPA [Organic Foods Production Act] and the regulations, and (b) whether the hazards associated with the added nitrate/nitrite exposure — in addition to the hazards associated with nonorganic celery production — result in a failure to meet OFPA criteria.
The use of celery powder is a way of artificially adding nitrate as a preservative at levels not possible to achieve through use of organic celery. Nitrates pose dangers to health when artificially enhanced in food.”
Beyond Pesticides Launches New Investigative Arm
Beyond Pesticides’ comment was prepared shortly before the launch of its investigative arm, OrganicEye,28 led by organic policy experts Mark Kastel, founder of The Cornucopia Institute, Terry Shistar, Ph.D., a former member of the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, and Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.
This new watchdog organization “will focus on defending the time-honored philosophy and legal definition of organic farming and food production from USDA’s systemic failure to protect the interests of organic farmers, ethical businesses, and consumers.”29
The issue of nonorganic celery powder in organic foods is just one area of focus for OrganicEye. Others include the use of genetically engineered ingredients in organics, and concentrated animal feeding operations being passed off as organic.30
The group is also urging farmers, farmworkers, government employees and food industry insiders to share what you know. All information shared will be kept in strict confidence. Contact information can be found on OrganicEye’s tips page.31 With regard to celery powder, OrganicEye noted in a recent press release:
“In terms of functionality and human health impacts celery powder is virtually indistinguishable from the synthetic preservatives it is replacing based on a growing body of research. The World Health Organization classifies processed meats a ‘known human carcinogen.’
‘The continued use of this material in organic meat is in conflict with the law that requires all synthetic and non-organic ingredients to be safe for the environment and human health,’ Kastel added.
‘Organic food is supposed to be the most easily-accessible safe haven for mothers and fathers shopping for ingredients for their children’s lunch. Quite frankly, industrial, turbocharged celery powder just does not cut the mustard.’”
As for processed meats, your best bet is to avoid it. Remember that this includes deli meats of all kinds as well, not just hotdogs and sausages. The key take-home message is that it doesn’t matter whether its 100% organic and/or “nitrite-free.”
It still contains nitrites, the health effects of which — as OrganicEye points out, — include the blood disorder methemoglobinemia, high blood pressure, increased risk of pregnancy complications, adverse reproductive effects and cancer.32
In 2016, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and coalition partners filed a petition asking the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to U.S. drinking water under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Under the TSCA, the EPA evaluates risks from new and existing chemicals and is supposed to act to address any “unreasonable risks” such chemicals may pose to human health and the environment.1
However, the EPA has maintained that because fluoride supposedly prevents cavities — a “benefit” that’s been disproven — it justifies adding the chemical to water, even though scientific research shows it poses significant risks.2
The EPA dismissed FAN’s petition, prompting the consumer advocacy group and partners to file a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s denial. Since then, a number of victories have occurred that are moving us closer to the goal of getting fluoride out of U.S. drinking water.
Most recently, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied a request by the EPA to delay the lawsuit’s upcoming trial date of February 3, 2020, instead maintaining the trial timeline. According to FAN:3
“Not only does the victory keep the EPA from increasing the cost of the lawsuit by adding more evidence to examine and another expert witness to depose at the last minute, it also adds to the momentum our legal team has gained from four previous legal victories.”
Fifth Victory Moves Water Fluoridation Ban Closer to Reality
The court’s ruling denying the EPA’s request to delay the trial is the fifth victory in the TSCA lawsuit. Four notable victories have already occurred, beginning in December 2017, when a court denied the EPA’s initial motion to dismiss the case.
A second victory occurred just weeks later when the EPA attempted to block FAN from obtaining internal EPA documents and using new research on fluoride’s toxicity in the trial. Stuart Cooper, FAN’s campaign director, explained:
“Two and a half weeks later, on February 7, 2018, we won a second major legal victory. This time, the EPA tried to put up another roadblock by limiting the scope of discovery. In other words, EPA worked to prohibit our attorneys from obtaining internal EPA documents, and to prohibit our experts from relying upon recently published studies.
… Had the EPA prevailed we would have been prohibited from including any new fluoride neurotoxicity study published after our petition was submitted in November 2016, including the landmark U.S. government-funded 12-year study by Bashash et al. published in September 2017.”
The court again denied the EPA’s motion, which meant the 12-year study could be used in the case. “This study is critical in demonstrating that fluoride is neurotoxic and has no place in the public water supply,” Cooper added. The study in question showed that higher exposure to fluoride while in utero is associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function in childhood, both at the age of 4 and 6-to-12 years.4
The study involved 299 pairs of women and their babies. Mexico does not fluoridate their drinking water, but the study participants were exposed to fluoride via fluoridated salt and varying levels of naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water.
While previous studies have used measurements of fluoride levels in drinking water to estimate a population’s exposure, the featured study used urine samples — in both the mothers and their children — to determine fluoride exposure.
The researchers then compared fluoride levels with each child’s intelligence, assessed using the General Cognitive Index (GCI) of the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities at age 4 and again between the ages of 6 and 12 years using the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI).5
While the children’s fluoride levels at ages 4 and 6-to-12 were not associated with their intelligence, the study found that exposure that occurs prenatally was linked to lower intelligence scores. In fact, women with higher levels of fluoride in their urine during pregnancy were more likely to have children with lower intelligence.
Specifically, each 0.5 milligram per liter increase in pregnant women’s fluoride levels was associated with a reduction of 3.15 and 2.5 points on the children’s GCI and WASI scores, respectively.
Third and Fourth Victories Leading to Landmark Trial
After the EPA lost its request to block FAN attorneys from obtaining internal documents or using pertinent new research in the trial, the agency then objected to sharing internal documents or allowing employees to be deposed about EPA’s fluoride safety standards. In October 2018, a court again ruled against the EPA, stating that this internal information had to be shared.6
“The EPA’s documents and correspondence relating to the specified studies are relevant to the ultimate issue the Court must decide — whether the ingestion of fluoride in drinking water causes neurotoxic harm,” the ruling stated.7
In the fourth victory, which occurred in April 2019, the court ordered the EPA to produce additional documents and scientists for deposition.8 With the fifth victory denying the EPA’s attempt to delay the trial for 65 days, the lawsuit is scheduled to begin as originally scheduled on February 3, 2020.
In November 2019, the National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) draft review of fluoride’s neurodevelopmental effects on humans is set to be released, and the EPA had attempted to use this as reason to delay the trial, but the judge disagreed. FAN’s attorneys, in a brief response to the EPA’s request for delay, stated:9
“EPA has been aware of the NTP’s … monograph for the entirety of this litigation. EPA is not only a member of NTP’s Executive Committee but provided comments to the NTP about the review prior to the review’s commencement in late 2016. At no point, however, during the 2+ years of this litigation has EPA expressed any concern that the NTP review could affect the scheduling of this case.”
The NTP’s research report on the effects of fluoride on learning and memory in animals was released in July 2016, and found a low to moderate level of evidence suggesting exposure to fluoride at concentrations higher than 0.7 parts per million (ppm) may have adverse effects on learning and memory.
The exposure level of 0.7 ppm is the recommended level for water fluoridation in the U.S., and the review found “very few studies assessed learning and memory effects” in animals at exposure levels near 0.7 ppm.10 However, as noted by FAN’s Cooper:
“ … [I]t is worrying that the NTP specified that an animal study should be conducted at 0.7 ppm — which is a ridiculous provision for an animal study on fluoride.
For example, it is well-known that rats need a much higher dose of fluoride in their water to reach the same plasma levels in humans. Moreover, it is standard practice in toxicology to use much higher doses in animals to tease out effects.”
Don’t Sacrifice Your Brain for Your Teeth
A U.S. and Canadian government-funded observational study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that drinking fluoridated water during pregnancy lowers children’s IQ.11 As reported by FAN:12
“They found that a 1 mg per liter increase in concentration of fluoride in mothers’ urine was associated with a 4.5-point decrease in IQ among boys, though not girls. When the researchers measured fluoride exposure by examining the women’s fluid intake, they found lower IQs in both boys and girls: A 1 mg increase per day was associated with a 3.7 point IQ deficit in both genders.”
The findings were deemed so controversial, the study had to undergo additional peer-review and scrutiny before publication, making it one of the more important fluoride studies to date. Anticipating the controversy the findings would generate among public health agencies, fluoride proponents and the media, extra data checks were undertaken prior to publishing. FAN noted:13
“Making the publication of this study even more impactful is that it is accompanied by an editor’s note, a podcast featuring the journal’s editors, and an editorial from world-renowned neurotoxicity expert Dr. David Bellinger. This reaction by the JAMA editors shows just how important the study is, as most studies in their journal don’t receive this treatment.
For the first time in his career, the editor of Pediatrics included an editorial note, knowing fluoridation proponents would attack the study without justification. He noted the study’s rigor, triple-checking of the data, and definitive nature of the evidence.”
More than 300 studies have shown fluoride’s toxic effects on the brain,14 including a 2006 National Research Council review that suggested fluoride exposure may be associated with brain damage, endocrine system disruption and bone cancer.15
In 2012, Harvard researchers also revealed that children living in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas16 and suggested high fluoride exposure may have an adverse effect on children’s neurodevelopment.
Drinking fluoridated water, which poses risks to your brain and overall health when ingested, makes little sense, especially since any benefits it provides to your teeth occur from topical exposure. When you drink fluoridated water, 99% of the fluoride goes down the drain and into the environment.17
If you want fluoride for your teeth, use fluoridated toothpaste — don’t drink fluoridated water, trading your brain health for your teeth. That being said, I don’t recommend fluoridated toothpaste either, as there are ways to keep your teeth healthy that don’t involve neurotoxic agents like fluoride.
How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy — Without Fluoride
Fluoride is not the answer to healthy teeth. A comprehensive oral care plan should include addressing your diet, reducing your net carb (total grams of carbohydrates minus your grams of fiber) intake and, if needed, taking nutritional supplements that support your oral health, such as vitamins C and K2, and coenzyme Q10.
Regular brushing (with fluoride-free toothpaste) and flossing is also important, as are regular professional cleanings with a mercury-free biological dentist.
Considering there are many studies showing fluoride’s toxicity, the Precautionary Principle, which states that preventive measures should also be put in place to avoid exposure if there’s evidence of a substance causing harm, should be put into place — and the EPA should take action to remove this toxic chemical from drinking water.
Let’s hope that come February 2020, FAN and partners get their sixth victory in the form of fluoridated water finally being outlawed.
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