[Daniel Stockin of The Lillie Center]
August 13, 2007 – A joint meeting of two ethics committees for the Centers for Disease Control has received a detailed formal complaint alleging a series of unethical activities by the CDC Oral Health Division and the CDC Director. The complaint points to a quote by a highly placed CDC official that the public health ethics code CDC espouses is not being internally applied within CDC itself. The complaint specifically questions why CDC’s own data on disproportionate harm from ingested fluoride in minority groups is not being communicated to these communities, and points to new, state of the art National Research Council information showing certain groups to be especially susceptible to harm from fluoride.
The charges were presented to CDC’s joint ethics panel on August 9th by Daniel Stockin, a public health professional of The Lillie Center, Inc., a private sector firm. In a separate development, news surfaced on the same day that 600 doctors, dentists, and other professionals have signed a petition calling for a halt to water fluoridation and for congressional hearings on fluoridation. (See: www.FluorideAction.net .)
According to the complaint, the unethical actions of Oral Health Division manager William Maas and CDC Director Julie Gerberding are “serious and egregious” in not disseminating findings of the National Research Council that kidney patients, diabetics, infants, and seniors are especially susceptible to harm from fluoride. The complaint contains photos of a condition called dental fluorosis, a staining and pitting of teeth indicative of overexposure to fluoride that is disproportionately present in African Americans and perhaps Mexican Americans, compared to Caucasians.
“This is an explosive and deeply disturbing issue,” states Stockin. “We have provided very specific examples of statements and actions by Dr.’s Maas and Gerberding that show blatant disregard for the most fundamental principles of ethics in public health. CDC is striving mightily to defend its policy supporting water fluoridation to prevent cavities, but the facts about harm from fluoride are now coming from highly respected organizations like the National Research Council.”
“People with kidney disease or on dialysis should see this complaint and the report by the National Research Council on fluoride,” Stockin says, “And if you happen to be a member of the population with diabetes or HIV, you will be amazed how the NRC report contains important information you should know about -- but that CDC has elected not to openly share with the public because it runs at odds with putting fluoride in drinking water.”
The ethics complaint and the 600 professionals’ statement are the latest in a string of blows to the conventional wisdom that fluoride and water fluoridation are safe. In 2005, frustrated by EPA administrators’ lack of response to mounting evidence of harm from fluoride, eleven unions within EPA representing 7,000 lab workers, scientists, and others publicly called for the immediate halt to fluoridation based on concerns about fluoride-caused bone cancer. In 2006, the American Dental Association quietly stated on its web site that mothers of newborns might wish to consider using unfluoridated water when mixing powdered infant milk formula. CDC this year similarly changed its policy about use of fluoridated water for mixing formula, but did so only on its web site, not issuing even a press release to alert millions of parents to the news. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has recently developed software to begin to assess the quantity of fluoride Americans are ingesting, citing concern that cumulative fluoride intake could lead to a painful bone and joint condition called “skeletal fluorosis.”
The new, detailed list of alleged unethical actions by CDC in protecting its long-held policy is likely to spur groups and legislators across the country to join in the call for an official ethics inquiry into CDC’s actions.
Were CDC officials willing to sacrifice the health of Americans in order to prevent embarrassment to the agency and themselves? Stockin points to supporting materials in the ethics complaint that offer little wiggle room for discomfited CDC officials. “At-risk groups have a moral right to be told the whole story about fluoride,” Stockin says. “Get ready for their lawsuits. The world is not flat, and fluoride is not safe,” he says.