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The Autistic Spectrum

On this page you'll find information on how the environment and everyday household items (such as fluoride toothpaste) are poisoning our children. (Pages are still under construction.)

Hazardous products in the home.

Source for evidence-based information about the safety or risk of drugs, chemicals and disease during pregnancy and lactation; information concerning mother's health and environmental effects.

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Pediatricians gain new diagnostic tool

It's known as the Green Book-officially, the Handbook of Pediatric Environmental Health-and its release represents a milestone of sorts. Beginning this week, all 55,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics will be offered free copies of the 400-page tome to put on their shelves alongside the Red Book, their trusted reference on infectious diseases. It's a weighty acknowledgment that conditions ranging from asthma to sudden infant death syndrome may have environmental causes.

The Green Book's publication is the latest coup in the decades-old drive to get physicians and policy makers thinking about the effects of toxic compounds on kids. Although alarms were sounded in the early 1970s about lead poisoning, childhood cancer, and birth defects, "all of this remained very much at the edge of pediatrics until a few years ago," says Philip J. Landrigan, director of the Center for Children's Health and the Environment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "Now there's a lot of momentum attached to this issue, and some serious money is being put into research." In 1996, Congress passed the landmark Food Quality Protection Act, which instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to give special consideration to children when setting exposure limits for pesticides. And in 1998, the federal government established children's health centers at eight prominent universities; five are searching for environmental causes of asthma,three for the origins of learning disabilities and other neurobehavioral disorders.

The Green Book tackles subjects such as mercury poisoning, which is more common and harder to diagnose than one might think. Characterized by pink rashes and excruciating limb pain, it "can look an awful lot like a viral disease," says Ruth Etzel, the book's editor and a pediatrician with the U.S. Public Health Service. "Mercury is extremely toxic. Some kids bring it home from school science classes-they love the look and feel of it-and heat it and breathe the vapors. They develop very, very severe lung damage." Others consume mercury-tainted fish or are exposed during Santeria rituals (religious ceremonies, originating in Cuba, in which mercury is sprinkled about a room). "We now have a huge body of literature on this sort of thing," says Etzel, who notes that the Academy of Pediatrics helped get mercury banned from paints and is working to have it removed from vaccines. "We're putting it all in one place so it can be a handy reference for clinicians."

Flea dipping. At the same time, there's ample room for new research. Scientists at Mississippi State University, for example, are studying dogs' flea collars and dips as possible sources of human pesticide poisoning. Veterinary students petted the canine subjects with white gloves, the residues were analyzed, and some of the readings came up high. The next step is to collect urine samples from the dogs' owners-children in particular, who are more apt than adults to cuddle and wrestle with pets. "We don't know how to translate the glove numbers into actual human absorption," explains principal investigator Janice Chambers.

Some scientists believe that pesticides and other contaminants play a largely overlooked role in child behavior. Aggression and attention-deficit disorder could be signs of lead poisoning. There may be a link between autism and prenatal exposure to polluted drinking water. Similarly, exposure in utero to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)-banned compounds once used in electrical equipment that are still found in fish and other foods-mayaffect reading comprehension and attention span. Landrigan points out that fewer than 20 percent of the 70,000 synthetic chemicals to which children may be exposed have been tested for developmental toxicity.

"When you think about environmental hazards, kids are just different from adults," says Richard Jackson, director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "They eat, drink, and breathe three times as much as an adult on a weight basis. They tend to be more aggressively and intimately involved in their environments." And yet in many ways, Jackson says, society has done a better job of protecting endangered species than it has "the most sensitive members of our human population: our kids."


Kimberly Short-Wolfe was desperate with worry. Something was terribly wrong with her son. Jimmy was slowly losing control over his entire body. It would take 3 years to find the shocking answer: Jimmy had been poisoned! And even more horrifying to Kimberly, was how and where..


Every time I look at him, Im ecstatic!

by Elizabeth Holzemer

Womans World



As the doctor spoke, Kimberly Short-Wolfe bit back tears. Theres really nothing we can do for him, the neurologist said.


Taking a deep breath, Kimberly picked up her five year old son and carried him out of the office.  As she made her way through the waiting room, Kimberly heard the unasked questions: whats wrong with him? Why is his body jerking like that?


Oh, Jimmy, the Webster, West Virginia mother sighed sadly, what are we going to do now?


Jimmy was a bundle of happiness from the moment he was born. As an infant, he was always smiling. As a toddler, his funny faces kept the whole family in stitches.


So when two year old Jimmy first started fluttering his eyelids, Kimberly and her husband, Lee, thought it was just another one of their little comedians antics.


But there was something else..He flicks his wrist over and over, Kimberly told the pediatrician.


Toddlers love repetitive motion, the doctor said. Its just a phase.


But when a friend told Kimberly that her husband had suffered uncontrollable body movements that were diagnosed as Tourettes Syndrome, Kimberly headed back to  the doctor.


Tourettes is a neurological disorder, caused by a misfiring in the brain and the tics are generally constant, the doctor noted.  Because Jimmys turned on and off, its more likely he has transient tics. We dont know what triggers them, but eventually, just as suddenly as they start, they stop for good.


What do we do until then? Kimberly wondered sadly.


We treat  him normally, Lee said.


And in every other way, Jimmy was a typical little boy. He loved to sit up on his big sister Kristins lap for story time, and play cars with his brother Joseph. And he was as smart as a whip. By age four, he could print his name, read, even do simple arithmetic.


By five, he was a full year ahead of other kids his age. But something else had advanced, too. Not only hadnt Jimmys eye and hand tics stopped, but.


Why are you doing that? Kimberly blurted, seeing Jimmy jerking his head to one side.


I just need to, hed shrug.


And his walking.he moved his feet as though they were made of lead. And his body jerked strangely. He looked like a puppet being yanked on a string.


As the weeks went by, some part of Jimmys body was always twitching even in his sleep and he had angry outbursts almost daily.


But hardest of all on Kimberlys heart, Jimmys eyes, once so full of fun, clouded with tears.


Kimberly took Jimmy to a neurologist, who confirmed what Kimberly had suspected, diagnosing Jimmy with Tourettes Syndrome. Finally, he can be treated, Kimberly thought. But it wouldnt be that simple.


When hes older, well give him medication, the specialist said, but the side effects of the drugs are too dangerous for a child so young.


So Kimberly began scouring the Internet, reading everything about Tourettes Syndrome and taking comfort in the chat rooms, where she could share her fears with other parents.


It was in one such chat room that a woman told her about a naturopathic doctor in Drury, Missouri who used a natural approach to treating Tourettes symptoms.


Please, God, our Jimmy needs help, Kimberly prayed as she called Dr. Christopher Deatherage.


The sporadic onset.sudden deterioration.I dont think your son has Tourettes, Dr. Deatherage said. I just treated a little girl who was having severe head jerking. It turned out she had a calcium deficiency.


Kimberly sent a clipping of Jimmys hair to a laboratory for analysis. And as suspected, Jimmy did have a calcium deficiency. But the cause of that deficiency was surprising and frightening


Jimmy has toxic levels of  arsenic in his system, Dr. Deatherage reported. Its depleted his body of many vital minerals. Thats whats causing his tics.


Poison! Kimberly gasped. How?


I cant say, Dr. Deatherage said. The important thing right now is to get it out of Jimmys body.


Dr. Deatherage immediately put Jimmy on a detox regimen, a combination of selenium and megadoses of the vitamins and minerals Jimmy severely lacked.


Almost immediately, his tics began to ease. And as his body stilled, Jimmys happy-go-lucky personality returned.


Jimmys back! Thank you! Kimberly cried to Dr. Deatherage.


But, without knowing where Jimmy got the arsenic poisoning, What if he gets sick all over again? Kimberly worried.


Following Dr. Deatherages suggestions, she confirmed that there were no active coal mines near her home; she had their well water tested


What if we never find the source? she sighed in frustration.


Then, one day, Kimberly was reading an article about decks. To her shock, it said that pressure-treated wood, like that used in building decks, is loaded with arsenic!


Oh, my God! Kimberly gasped.


Shortly before Jimmy was born, theyd moved into a house with a deck. Jimmy crawled all over that as a baby! she cried.


Lee was ready to tear it down, but he learned that by sealing the deck and imposing strict rules for using it, his family would be safe.


Today, the arsenic is completely out of Jimmys body and his tics have all but disappeared.


Jimmy says he wants to be a clown so he can always make Mommy happy, Kimberly says. Happy? Every time I look at him Im ecstatic!



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Kids at Risk ~ Chemicals in the environment come under scrutiny as the number of childhood learning problems soars
By Sheila Kaplan and Jim Morris

For more than 40 years, the family shared the big house and two trailers a mile from the Monsanto chemical plant, on the west side of Anniston, Ala. In time, the 18 of them learned to put up with the rotten-cabbage odor that wafted through town. The plant, after all, is what stood between many residents and poverty. Besides, there were family troubles: Jeanette Champion, 44, is nearly blind and has what she calls a "thinking problem." Her 45-year-old brother, David Russell, can't read or write. Her 18-year-old daughter, Misty Pate, has suffered seizures and bouts of rage. Misty's 15-year-old cousin, Shane Russell, reads at a second-grade level.

The Monsanto plant has made industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals since the 1930s. But for decades it also saturated west Anniston with polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs have long been linked to cancer. More recently, however, researchers have discovered evidence tying the compounds to lack of coordination, diminished IQ, and poor memory among children. So when the extent of the PCB contamination in Anniston finally became clear a few years ago, a hazy picture came into focus. Perhaps the multigenerational problems of some families were not the result of poverty or bad genes. Perhaps they were caused by the chemicals in the ground.

More than 20 years ago, when Champion was still threading looms in the cotton mill, toxicologist Deborah Rice was conducting studies on young monkeys for Health Canada. The studies strongly suggested that substances like PCBs and mercury didn't just cause cancer or birth defects-the only problems for which they were tested in the United States. They also suggested that even at extremely low levels, these substances could affect the developing human brain. When given doses comparable to what a child would receive, the monkeys became impulsive and distracted and couldn't learn.

Many scientists were slow to see the significance of such research. Why worry about the loss of a few IQ points, they argued, when the real threat of chemical exposure was life-threatening disease? Today, however, a dramatic increase in learning disabilities has forced Environmental Protection Agency officials to acknowledge that they have ignored a much broader problem. One of every six children in America suffers from problemssuch as autism, aggression, dyslexia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In California, reported cases of autism rose 210 percent, from 3,864 to 11,995, between 1987 and 1998. In New York, the number of children with learning disabilities jumped 55 percent, from 132,000 to 204,000, between 1983 and 1996. It was in the midst of reports like these that the EPA last week essentially banned the popular pesticide Dursban as an unacceptable risk to children.

Experts have advanced a variety of theories for the increase in disorders, including better diagnostic methods. But a growing body of evidence suggests that compounds called neurotoxicants may be contributing significantly to the problem. Neurotoxicants are found in substances as common as tuna, lawn sprays, vaccines, and head-lice shampoo. Fetuses and infants exposed to these chemicals during critical windows of development, researchers now believe, may be at far higher risk for childhood learning problems than once thought. A new study from the National Academy of Sciences suggests that a combination of neurotoxicants and genes may account for nearly 25 percent of developmental problems. Chemicals alone may account for only 3 percent of cases, the study shows, but they can trigger many more. "Think of the genes as the country road," says John Harris of the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program. "And the neurotoxicants as driving 90 miles per hour in the rain."

The lead factor. Although inconclusive, the studies on neurotoxicants are intriguing. Researchers at the State University of New York-Oswego, in a federally funded study, showed that babies who had significant amounts of
PCBs in their umbilical cords performed more poorly than unexposed babies in tests assessing visual recognition of faces, ability to shut out distractions, and overall intelligence. Herbert Needleman, of the University of Pittsburgh, examined 216 youths convicted in the juvenile court of Allegheny County, Pa., and 201 nondelinquent youths. In a study released last month, Needleman found that the delinquents had significantly higher bone-lead levels. In March, Frederica Perera, of Columbia University's Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, reported that air-sampling "backpacks" worn by 72 pregnant women in New York City picked up high concentrations of three neurotoxic pesticides that could cause disorders in their fetuses.

Chemical manufacturers-as well as some researchers and regulators-are not convinced by such findings. "There is no reason to believe we have an epidemic [of chemical-related illness] on our hands," says Robert MacPhail, chief of the EPA's Neurobehavioral Toxicology Branch. "There are still a jillion tests that have to be carried out." Robert Kaley, director of environmental affairs for Solutia, a 1997 spinoff of Monsanto's chemical operations, says that "everybody's jumping to conclusions. These kinds of links are premature at best and speculative at worst."

But the new findings, coming on the heels of more than two dozen earlier studies, have prompted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to dig deeper into the issue. The agency is expected to ask Congress for $1 billion to track up to 100,000 children from the womb through high school to assess the effects of chemical exposure on childhood development. U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, who grew up in Anniston, finds the existing evidence compelling enough. "How long do you wait," he asks, "before you take the necessary action to protect children?"

The answer, in the case of the EPA, appears to be a long time. More than a dozen high-ranking current and former EPA officials say the agency has failed to exert its authority to obtain data on chemical exposure from manufacturers and to restrict the use of neurotoxicants that may be harmful to kids. The EPA's enforcement record with the chemical industry is hardly an activist one. Between 1989 and 1998, it managed to get neurotoxicity data on only nine pesticides and three industrial chemicals.

The chemical industry, meanwhile, has effectively rebuffed the few efforts the EPA has made to address the issue. In 1998, the agency tried to force makers of some of the most common chemicals to test their products for hazards to children. But the EPA backed down under election-year pressure from both political parties and decided on a voluntary system. The agency and industry are still arguing about what tests will be required. Chemical companies are among the best-connected businesses in Washington. Since January 1999, chemical manufacturers have given nearly $4.2 million to presidential candidates, congressional campaigns, and national political parties. The revolving door is nothing new in the nation's capital, but it seems to spin to particularly good effect for the Chemical Manufacturers Association. This year, the CMA retained a former top White House environmental aide who helped Al Gore develop a plan to address what the vice president called "the special impact industrial chemicals may have on children." Today, the aide, Beth Viola, is working to make the plan more industry friendly, thus contributing to delays.

Potentially hazardous chemicals should be judged "guilty until proven innocent," says EPA adviser and Yale University Prof. John Wargo. But the EPA doesn't work that way. The agency requires chemical manufacturers to prove that their products do not cause cancer or birth defects, but it does not require them to provide data on neurological effects-even though the technology for such testing now exists. The EPA is caught in a bind: It can't require a company to submit data without proof that a product is harmful. But it can't prove harm without the data. "We're in the dark," says Ward Penberthy, an EPA deputy director.

Children are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemicals. Normal brain development begins in the uterus and continues through adolescence. It requires a series of complex processes to occur in a carefully timed sequence: Cells proliferate and move to the correct spot, synapses form, neural circuits are refined, and neurotransmitters and their receptors grow. Neurotoxicants may slow, accelerate, or otherwise modify any of these processes. Says Philip Landrigan of New York's Mt. Sinai School of Medicine: "You end up with gaps in the wiring."

The idea that substances in the environment can harm the human brain is not new. In ancient Rome, miners were felled by what the medical literature of the time called "lead colic." The Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland comes from the 19th-century expression "mad as a hatter," a reference to mercury's effects on felt-hat makers. Over the past 70 years, adults and children around the world have been poisoned-and, in some cases, killed-by mercury in fish, PCBs in rice oil, a fungicide in seed grain, and a rat-killing agent in tortillas. After hearings in 1985, the House Committee on Science and Technology reported that there were 850 known neurotoxicants, any of which "may result in devastating neurological or psychiatric disorders that impair the quality of life, cripple and potentially reduce the highest intellect to a vegetative state." The report prompted virtually no action.

Today, however, the federal government is under increasing pressure from pediatricians, academics, and its own scientists, all clamoring for more testing of neurotoxicants. Agency officials are focusing on the following areas:

Pesticides. Organophosphate pesticides are domesticated versions of wartime nerve agents. The best known, Dursban and Diazinon, have been on the market since 1965 and 1956, respectively. The active ingredient of Dursban, chlorpyrifos, is found in some popular Raid sprays and Black Flag roach and ant killer. After re-examining the toxicity of chlorpyrifos, however, the EPA announced last week that it will ban nearly all household uses of it and restrict its use on tomatoes, apples, and grapes. The EPA found that Dursban could damage the brain. It also determined that children could receive up to 100 times the safe dose in some cases.

Diazinon, one of 37 other organophosphates under review, could be next. A preliminary EPA analysis recently found that a child could inhale up to 250 times the safe amount after a basic "crack and crevice" treatment by an exterminator. Linda Meyer, a toxicologist with Novartis, which makes Diazinon, says that the EPA extrapolated from a worst-case Novartis study-in which rats were placed in a chamber pumped full of the pesticide in aerosol form. As a result, Meyer says, "the risk for children is grossly overestimated." Novartis also notes that the EPA, in its draft analysis, states that animal studies of Diazinon have revealed "no evidence of abnormalities in the development of the nervous system."

The chemical industry prefers to police itself, when given a choice. But this approach seldom works, as evidenced by the EPA's failed attempt to restrict a pesticide known as chromated copper arsenic, or CCA. The compound is applied to pressure-treated wood and commonly found on decks and playground equipment. Since the late 1970s, EPA researchers have reported that CCA poses a special threat to pregnant women and children because it combines three neurotoxic compounds. People can be exposed to CCA by breathing fumes from unfinished wood during home repair or construction. As a structure ages, the compound may leach out into the dirt. In lower doses, according to numerous studies, CCA can impair intelligence and memory.

The EPA tried to restrict CCA in 1984, but homebuilders' and wood preservers' groups lobbied Congress so hard that the EPA retreated, asking only that retailers distribute advisories that the compound could endanger children. A decade later, the effort had gone nowhere. "We checked retailers," said John McCauley of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, "and they had no clue what a consumer information sheet was." The EPA promised to decide on new restrictions by 1998, but officials now say the agency won't act until at least next year.

Mercury. When toxicologist David Brown helped prepare a mercury study for eight Northeastern states and three Canadian provinces in 1997, he knew that fish in the region's lakes would contain mercury; he just didn't know how much. As it turns out, the numbers were considerably higher than he expected. "The most pristine lakes," he says, "had the highest levels." Brown, formerly with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, did the math and concluded that a pregnant woman who ate a single fish from one of these lakes could, in theory, consume enough mercury to harm her unborn child.

But the Food and Drug Administration has no enforceable limit for mercury in fish-only a guideline of 1 part per million, which the National Academy of Sciences deems "inadequate to protect the developing fetus." Mike Bolger, chief of the FDA's Division of Risk Assessment, says the agency hasn't set a limit primarily because "the science has to be sorted out."

That shouldn't be surprising. For years, operators of the coal-fired power plants and trash incinerators responsible for most mercury pollution have been working to quash attempts to further regulate mercury. When the EPA concluded in 1996, for example, that more than 1.6 million Americans were at risk of mercury poisoning, industry lobbyists persuaded the agency not to make the report public for more than a year. It was released only after a group of senators complained. Lawmakers in states with substantial fishing and utility interests responded to the report by calling for yet another study, this time by the NAS. The new report, to be released next month, is expected to agree that current mercury levels are unsafe. But advocates for tighter regulations aren't expecting any quick changes in policy. "The reason," says Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, "is that mercury has a constituency in Washington."

There is also evidence that mercury found in some childhood vaccines can hamper development. Will Redwood, for instance, a 6-year-old from suburban Atlanta, seemed perfectly normal at birth. Within two years, he had stopped interacting with his family. By age 5, he was diagnosed with a mild form of autism. His mother, Lyn, a nurse practitioner, read that some childhood vaccines contain the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, cumulative doses of which could be harmful. She had a lock of Will's hair analyzed, and it was found to be loaded with mercury. In his first round of vaccinations alone, given when he was 2 months old, Will received 62.5 micrograms of mercury, or 125 times the EPA's daily limit. No one can say whether the vaccines-which contained the maximum amount of thimerosal-caused Will's autism. And experts say that parents should not withhold inoculations. In a statement last year, a group of manufacturers said that vaccines containing thimerosal "have been administered to billions of children and adults worldwide, with no scientific or medical data to suggest that it poses a public health risk." Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics raised enough questions last year that vaccine manufacturers have agreed to phase out thimerosal as soon as possible.

PCBs. The EPA banned the manufacture of polychlorinated biphenyls in 1977, but the compounds continue to haunt children. PCBs are a well-known cancer risk, but recent studies show that they can also impair learning and memory. EPA adviser Joseph Jacobson and Sandra Jacobson of Wayne State University reported in 1996 that children in Michigan with significant prenatal exposures were three times as likely as unexposed children to have low IQ scores and twice as likely to lag behind in reading comprehension.

Jeanette Champion says that her family's mental difficulties now make sense. She and roughly 5,000 others are suing St. Louis-based Solutia, which made PCBs in Anniston under the Monsanto name from 1935 to 1971, seeking compensation for what they claim are pollution-related maladies and property devaluation. One of the plaintiffs is Karen McFarlane, who lives near the plant with her husband and five children. McFarlane, 31, attended special school and has failed four times to get her GED. Six-year-old Derrick Hubbard has speech, vision, and memory problems. "If we go over his ABCs, he forgets them right away," says his mother, Dessa. Gadsden, Ala., psychiatrist Judy Cook is astounded at how many local children have IQs in the "borderline retarded" range and exhibit a penchant for violence. "These kids are different," she says. "Their wiring's not right."

In February, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported that "PCBs in soil in parts of Anniston present a public health hazard" and that some adults and children had elevated amounts of the chemicals in their blood. Exposures, the agency speculated, "may still be occurring at high levels." The EPA has identified 22 other sites in Anniston that may contain dangerous amounts of PCBs, metals, and solvents. Solutia's Kaley concedes there may have been "historical exposure." But, he says, "We do not believe that people are currently being exposed." Nevertheless, the company has spent more than $30 million to clean up its Anniston site and surrounding land, bought out about 100 properties, and made a tentative settlement offer of $44 million to landowners along downstream waterways.

That prospect aside, there are still many unanswered questions about neurotoxicants and their effects on children. The dearth of data will continue to stymie parents like Terry DeCosta, who believes that pollution from the Tosco oil refinery in Clyde, Calif., contributed to the anger and attention problems in both her children. According to the EPA, Tosco discharged more than 1 million pounds of pollutants into the air in 1998, many of them neurotoxicants. When the DeCostas sued the refinery, however, their case was dismissed for lack of causation. Richard Jackson, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the easy work is done. "We've been able to find the things that are so toxic that they make people dizzy and fall down," he says. Now comes the harder work of identifying and regulating compounds that insidiously misarrange the brain. "I've heard people say we still don't have a smoking gun," says Chris De Rosa of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. "And then I've heard others say, 'Yes, but there are bullets all over the floor.' "


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We're poisoning our kids, toxins report says

A new report release Thursday finds that U.S. industry releases enough neurological and developmental toxins to fill railroad cars stretching from New York City to Albuquerque, New Mexico

September 11, 2000

Every year, U.S. industry releases about 24 billion pounds of toxic substances that are believed to cause developmental and neurological problems in children.

That amount could fill a string of railroad cars stretching from New York City to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and yet there are no emissions standards for these harmful chemicals. This alarming finding is one of many in Polluting Our Future: Chemical Emissions in the U.S. that Affect Child Development and Learning, a joint report released Thursday by the National Environmental Trust, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Learning Disabilities Association.

"That is the most startling thing," said Jeff Wise, policy director for NET. "The amount and how little we know about the chemicals." The collaborative effort to produce Polluting Our Future came about in response to recent reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences. These studies indicate a growing consensus among leading scientists that neurological and developmental toxins are responsible for a wide range of physical and mental problems among children.

Polluting Our Future looks closely, for the first time ever, at the scope and sources of neurological and developmental air pollutants. "This is the first complete snapshot we've ever had of toxic pollution in this country that can affect the way that children's bodies and brains develop," said Wise. Nearly one in every six, or about 12 million, children in the United States suffers from at least one developmental, learning or behavioral disability such as mental retardation, birth defects, autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Polluting Our Future determines that about one in every 200 American children, or more than 360,000, live with developmental or neurological disabilities caused by exposure to toxic substances including developmental and neurological toxins. The report also includes information about releases of developmental and neurological toxins on a national level, a ranking of all the 50 states,and data about the top releasing counties, industries and facilities across the country. All figures are gleaned from data reported by industry to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as is required by law.

According to industry-reported data used in the report, Louisiana and Texas emit the most developmental and neurological toxins to air and water. Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida each release a significant amount of these toxins as well. Electric utilities, chemical manufacturers and the makers of paper, metal and plastics are the largest emitters of neurological and developmental toxins nationwide.

The researchers also found that African Americans are disproportionately affected by the release of developmental and neurological toxins. In 14 out of the 25 counties across the nation found to emit the most of these chemicals, African American populations exceed the U.S. average. The authors of Polluting Our Future stress that policies must be put in place to lower the health risk for children from neurological and developmental toxins. This would include pre-market screening of new chemicals, stringent testing of substances already on the market,labeling, better pollution reporting, more controls for emissions from electric power plants and exposure and disease monitoring.

Copyright 2000, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved


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In the air that they breathe - Lead poisoning remains a major health hazard for America's children
By Amanda Spake and Jennifer Couzin

When Karen and Bob Brantley found the lovely old Baltimore County, Md., farmhouse for rent in 1992, it seemed like a dream come true. The 25-acre property had woods, a pond nearby, and room for a dog and their kids, Tommy, Kaitey, and Bobby, who was born shortly after they moved in.

Christian, their fourth child, came along in 1996. He was a calm and happy kid-at first. But last year, when Christian was about 18 months, he started eating dirt, a condition called pica that the family's pediatrician feared might be a sign of lead poisoning. Testing revealed that his blood lead level was 19 micrograms per deciliter, nearly twice the level at which a child is considered at risk.

Karen Brantley was shocked. "I'm a stay-at-home mom," she says. "I watch my children." Like many middle-class parents, the Brantleys did not know that lead poisoning remains the most significant environmental health hazard
for U.S. children. An estimated 1.7 million children are already affected by lead from old paint, water pipes, soil, and other sources, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This breaks down to 4.4 percent of all children and a full 22 percent of African-American kids who live in older homes.

Some 890,000 of all children affected are under age 6, when the brain and central nervous system are most vulnerable. At the same time, scientists have determined that lead levels once considered safe can actually dampen IQ scores and cause lifelong learning disabilities, hyperactivity, attention-deficit disorders, and aggressive behavior. "I don't know of any other disease as disabling as lead poisoning that strikes 1 in 25 children that people wouldn't be screaming about," says Herbert Needleman, pediatric psychiatrist and lead expert at the University of Pittsburgh.

Taking aim. Now, in an effort to hold the lead industry financially responsible, a number of prominent personal-injury attorneys and about a dozen state and city prosecutors are taking legal aim at paint, pigment,and gas-additive makers for the damage lead has done. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency is meeting this week in Washington to discuss tightening the reporting requirements for industries that release the metal into the environment.

Doctors have known of lead's toxic effects since the turn of the century. In 1904, the first article about childhood lead poisoning from paint appeared in an Australian medical journal. France and Austria banned the interior use of lead paint in 1909, but a U.S. ban on residential use didn't come until 1978. At that time, studies showed that 88 percent of U.S. children had elevated lead levels. As lead additives were phased out of gasoline, and lead poisoning dropped dramatically, many believed the problem was solved. "I wouldn't have thought, 20 years ago, that we'd still be seeing lead poisoning at this point in time," says Omer Berger, director of the lead clinic at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.

In the late 1970s, concern about lead focused on its use in gasoline and on kids eating paint chips. But today the biggest hazard for children is the fine, microscopic lead in house dust that results from the breakdown of the lead-based paint widely used in pre-1978 homes. About 64 million homes still contain lead paint, and 5 million to 15 million have been identified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as very hazardous.

Poor and minority children are more likely than more affluent or white children to live in these substandard homes, but children at all income levels are failing to get tested. While children on Medicaid are supposed to be screened for lead at the age of 1 or 2, fewer than 20 percent nationwide have been tested. (The state of Missouri filed suit last month against Healthcare USA of Missouri LLC and Prudential Health Care Plan Inc., two Medicaid providers, charging that the plans failed to screen their St. Louis pediatric patients for lead as federal law requires. Other states are considering similar action.) Children from well-off families are rarely checked as toddlers, though some school systems require screening. "But if you screen at school entry, it's too late," says Katherine Farrell of the Anne Arundel County (Md.) Health Department. "The damage is done between 9 and 18 months."

At the same time, the amount of lead regarded as hazardous has dropped steadily over the past three decades, from 60 micrograms per deciliter of blood to 10. And doctors are finding that even levels below 10 can be harmful. A Boston study of 148 children-many of them from relatively affluent families-showed that those with low lead levels at age 2 had decreased intellectual performance at age 10.

Links to crime. Children with elevated lead levels, Pittsburgh's Needleman has found, were seven times as likely to drop out of high school as other children, and six times as likely to have a reading disability. "We
estimate that 20 to 30 percent of the special education caseload in urban centers results from lead poisoning," says Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. For decades, teachers and parents have reported disruptive behavior in lead-poisoned kids. In 1996, Needleman published the first rigorous study demonstrating that boys with elevated lead levels were more likely to engage in bullying, vandalism, arson,shoplifting, and other delinquent behaviors. Needleman is now trying to assess what portion of the juvenile criminal population suffered elevated lead levels as children; his theory is that a reduction in lead poisoning would result in less crime.

The precise mechanism by which lead affects behavior and damages the brain is not clear. Because lead is chemically similar to calcium, it can disrupt brain mechanisms that depend on calcium, like neurotransmitters that play a role in mediating responses to stimuli. The lead may also disrupt a process called neural pruning, in which the maturing brain weeds out some of a child's neural circuits, the connections between brain cells. Inadequate neural pruning may cause impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and diminished attention span. "Lead is potentially one preventable cause associated with the rise in attention-deficit disorders or ADD," says David Bellinger, a lead expert at Children's Hospital in Boston. Poor nutrition, particularly calcium and iron deficiencies, contributes to lead uptake. So does hunger. "If people are exposed to lead on an empty stomach, they absorb much more lead," says Kathryn Mahaffey, a scientist at the EPA.

Once ingested, lead, like calcium, is stored in the bones. During pregnancy, when the bones release calcium into blood, the lead is released with it, sometimes affecting the baby's brain development. And new research released last month by Ellen Silbergeld, a University of Maryland scientist, shows that blood lead levels rise at menopause; as a result, some women experience hypertension and cognitive dysfunction.

The only known way to remove lead from the body is with chelation therapy, a treatment with chemicals that grip heavy metals, allowing them to be excreted. But chelation also lowers iron levels and may remove the lead too late to make a difference. The National Institutes of Health will conclude a three-year study next month that is expected to show whether chelation prevents lead-induced intellectual damage.

Cost effects. Since treatment is difficult, government officials and physicians are recommending a process called lead abatement, which involves encapsulating lead paint or stripping it out completely. A study done in 1991 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that cleaning up lead in homes would save the nation about $62 billion in medical and special education costs over 20 years. But abatement doesn't come cheap-Housing and Urban Development pegs it at $2,500 to $10,000 or more per home. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo recently awarded state and local governments $56 million for lead poisoning control, most of which will go toward abatement. That only begins to cover the staggering costs of fixing millions of homes, however, and some fear that lead abatement will make affordable housing more scarce.

Meanwhile, faced with Christian's medical expenses and the moving costs of leaving the lead-contaminated house, Bob Brantley began calling lawyers. He reached the law firm of Peter Angelos, a personal-injury specialist in Baltimore, who had a major role in the successful tobacco litigation. Angelos included the family in a lawsuit he was filing against paint, pigment, and gasoline-additive manufacturers. (He has also filed a class action on behalf of a million Maryland homeowners who have been forced to pay abatement costs for their homes.)

In October, the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office filed suit against 10 companies involved in the distribution of lead products in Rhode Island. "The Rhode Island lawsuit is attempting to make scapegoats out of responsible corporations," says Tim Hardy, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing NL Industries, one of the defendants in the Rhode Island and Maryland cases. Hardy argues that although the companies realized in the 1930s that lead-painted toys could be harmful to children (who were likely to chew on them), they did not know that painted walls were a potential threat. Indeed, he says, in its peak years of use-the first few decades of this century-lead paint was considered a superior product, since it was more durable than other available paints.

But with prosecutors in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Louisiana, and other states considering similar lawsuits, the lead industry worries its arguments may fall on deaf ears. "The lawyers involved in these lawsuits are the same people who led the state attorneys general against the tobacco industry. The reason those companies settled is because they were overwhelmed by the number of lawsuits," Hardy says. He fears the lead industry may meet tobacco's costly fate. "Attorney generals have realized the power to enforce consumer protection laws," says Jack McConnell, an attorney assisting the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office. "My guess is this will take a very similar path to tobacco."

Today, the Brantley family lives in a lead-free home in a Baltimore suburb. Christian's blood lead levels have dropped, but the symptoms remain. "He attacks his brother Bobby until he draws blood," his father says. "He tries to gouge out his eyes." The Brantleys worry every day about Christian's future, not only whether he will have a lower IQ or cognitive impairment resulting from his lead poisoning but how he will learn to control his behavior. "Christian," his father says, "is violent way beyond what a normal 3-year-old should be. What will he be like at 12? At 15?"


What causes PICA in children?

Most babies and crawlers will put anything in their mouths; this is often attributed to teething. However, pica is a condition that causes children and adults to crave and eat nonfood items. Up to 30 percent of children ages 1 to 6 have pica, according to 2008 information from the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you suspect your child is consistently putting nonfood items in their mouth, consult a physician immediately.


Causes of pica in children include low nutrient levels of zinc or iron, a post traumatic brain injury, developmental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Cultural factors, such as ethnic practices or having a mother with pica, may pose a higher risk of developing pica. Prevention is difficult as pica is not identified until the child begins to show symptoms. A healthy diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and dairy and clean drinking water may help prevent pica caused from nutritional deficiencies.


The word "pica" has Latin roots and comes from the word magpie, a bird known to eat anything. The range of cravings for nonfood items is extensive. Paper cravings from tissue, toilet paper, newspaper, notebook and copy paper are not uncommon in pica conditions. Mud, dirt, clay, chalk, glue and powdery consistencies, such as baking soda, talc, ashes and sand, are among the many cravings that children with pica may have. This list also includes animal feces, paint chips, soap, toothpaste and buttons.


Toxicity is a particular concern with children as their small bodies cannot process nonfood items and as such, they can experience serious and sometimes fatal results. Eating nonfood items can lead to bacterial infections, intestinal blockages, iron-deficiency anemia, malnutrition and lead poisoning. Eating items such as buttons pose the risk of choking. Children suspected of having pica should have their blood checked especially hemoglobin, white cell count and lead levels. Without treatment, pica may continue into the teen years and beyond.


Parents need to teach children what is acceptable to eat and not to eat. You should consistently monitor children with developmental disorders. Clean-up and remove any obstacles such as paint chips. Place nonfood items they typically eat in a high cupboard. Offer praise to children who follow a pattern of eating healthy foods. Additionally, include foods that contain zinc and iron in the diets of pica children. Lean meats, eggs, whole grains, dark greens and legumes such as black beans and black-eyed peas are significant sources of iron and zinc. Consult with a physician before giving any supplements to children. Iron supplements are toxic to children if taken in doses higher then their thresholds.


Article reviewed by Mia Paul Last updated on: Jul 27, 2011

What is it?
Pica is an eating disorder characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings to eat nonfood items. For a person to be diagnosed with pica, the cravings must last for at least one month. Some of the nonfood items are harmless when digested. However, if the craved substance is toxic or contaminated, or if it blocks the intestines, it can lead to medical emergency and death.
Researchers be live that about 25% kids have pica. Sometimes pica occurs during pregnancy.
What Causes Pica?
In some cases, specific nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anemia and zinc deficiency, may cause pica. Pica may also be caused by poor dieting, malnutrition, food depravation, mental retardation, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Types of Cravings
People with pica frequently crave and consume nonfood items such as dirt, clay, paint chips, plaster, chalk, cornstarch, laundry starch, baking soda, coffee grounds, cigarette ashes, burnt match heads, cigarette butts, animal feces, ice,rust, glue, hair/hairballs, buttons
paper, sand, toothpaste, and soap.
Can Pica be Treated?
Yes. Treatment will focus on addressing nutritional deficiencies and other medical problems, such as lead toxicity.
The treatment will be be tailored to the individual and will vary according to the severity of the cravings. Psychosocial therapy, and medications are also treatment options.
Complications of Pica
Some common complications of pica are malnutrition,    lead poisoning, iron deficiency anemia, infection,  chipped teeth, a hardened mass of the substance in the stomach, intestinal obstruction.
Why Do Some People Eat Nonfood Items?

The specific causes of pica are unknown, but certain conditions and situations can increase a person's risk:

  • nutritional deficiencies, such as iron or zinc, that may trigger specific cravings (however, the nonfood items craved usually don't supply the minerals lacking in the person's body)
  • dieting — people who diet may attempt to ease hunger by eating nonfood substances to get a feeling of fullness
  • malnutrition - especially in underdeveloped countries, where people with pica most commonly eat soil or clay
  • cultural factors — in families, religions, or groups in which eating nonfood substances is a learned practice
  • parental neglect, lack of supervision, or food deprivation — often seen in children living in poverty
  • developmental problems, such as mental retardation, autism, other developmental disabilities, or brain abnormalities
  • mental health conditions, such as obssessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia
  • pregnancy, but it's been suggested that pica during pregnancy occurs more frequently in women who exhibited similar practices during their childhood or before pregnancy or who have a history of pica in their family

Eating earth substances such as clay or dirt is a form of pica known as geophagia, which can cause iron deficiency. One theory to explain pica is that in some cultures, eating clay or dirt may help relieve nausea (and therefore, morning sickness), control diarrhea, increase salivation, remove toxins, and alter odor or taste perception.

Some people claim to enjoy the taste and texture of dirt or clay, and eat it as part of a daily habit (much like smoking is a daily routine for others). And some psychological theories explain pica as a behavioral response to stress or an indication that the individual has an oral fixation (is comforted by having things in his or her mouth).

Another explanation is that pica is a cultural feature of certain religious rituals, folk medicine, and magical beliefs. For example, some people in various cultures believe that eating dirt will help them incorporate magical spirits into their bodies.

None of these theories, though, explains every form of pica. A doctor must treat each case individually to try to understand what's causing the condition.

When to Call the Doctor

If your child is at risk for pica, talk to your doctor. If your child has consumed a harmful substance, seek medical care immediately. If you think your child has ingested something poisonous, call Poison Control at (800) 222-1222.

A child who continues to consume nonfood items may be at risk for serious health problems, including:

  • lead poisoning (from eating paint chips in older buildings with lead-based paint)
  • bowel problems (from consuming indigestible substances like hair, cloth, etc.)
  • intestinal obstruction or perforation (from eating objects that could get lodged in the intestines)
  • dental injury (from eating hard substances that could harm the teeth)
  • parasitic infections (from eating dirt or feces)

Medical emergencies and death can occur if the craved substance is toxic or contaminated with lead or mercury, or if the item forms an indigestible mass blocking the intestines. Pica involving lead-containing substances during pregnancy may be associated with an increase in both maternal and fetal lead levels.

What Will the Doctor Do?

Your doctor will play an important role in helping you manage and prevent pica-related behaviors, educating you on teaching your child about acceptable and unacceptable food substances. The doctor will also work with you on ways to to restrict the nonfood items your child craves (i.e., using child-safety locks and high shelving, and keeping household chemicals and medications out of reach).

Some kids require behavioral intervention and families may need to work with a psychologist or other mental health professional.

Depending on a child's age and developmental stage, doctors will work with kids to teach them ways to eat more appropriately. Medication may also be prescribed if pica is associated with significant behavioral problems not responding to behavioral treatments.

Your doctor may check for anemia or other nutritional deficiencies, if indicated. A child who has ingested a potentially harmful substance, such as lead, will be screened for lead and other toxic substances and might undergo stool testing for parasites. In some cases, X-rays or other imaging may be helpful to identify what was eaten or to look for bowel problems, such as an obstruction.

Fortunately, pica is usually a temporary condition that improves as kids get older or following pregnancy. But for individuals with developmental or mental health issues, pica can be a more prolonged concern.

Following treatment, if your child's pica behavior continues beyond several weeks despite attempts to intervene, contact your doctor again for additional treatment. Remember that patience is key in treating pica because it can take time for some kids to stop wanting to eat nonfood items.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2011

Source:  http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/pica.html



The US Government's conflict of interest and its motive to prove fluoride safe in the furious debate over water fluoridation since the 1950's has only now been made clear to the general public, let alone to civilian researchers, health professionals and journalists. The declassified
documents resonate with a growing body of scientific evidence and a chorus of questions about the health effects of fluoride in the environment.

Human exposure to fluoride has mushroomed since World War II, due not only to fluoridated water and toothpaste but to environmental pollution by major industries, from aluminium to pesticides, where fluoride is a critical industrial chemical as well as a waste by-product.

The impact can be seen literally in the smiles of our children. Large numbers (up to 80 per cent in some cities) of young Americans now have dental fluorosis, the first visible sign of excessive fluoride exposure according to the US National Research Council. (The signs are whitish flecks or spots, particularly on the front teeth, or dark spots or stripes in more severe cases.)

Less known to the public is that fluoride also accumulates in bones. "The teeth are windows to what's happening in the bones," explained Paul Connett, Professor of Chemistry at St Lawrence University, New York, to these reporters. In recent years, paediatric bone specialists have expressed alarm about an increase in stress fractures among young people in the US. Connett and other scientists are concerned that fluoride-linked to bone damage in studies since the 1930's-may be a contributing factor.

The declassified documents add urgency: much of the original 'proof ' that low-dose fluoride is safe for children's bones came from US bomb program scientists, according to this investigation.

Now, researchers who have reviewed these declassified documents fear that Cold War national security considerations may have prevented objective scientific evaluation of vital public health questions concerning fluoride.

"Information was buried," concludes Dr Phyllis Mullenix, former head of toxicology at Forsyth Dental Center in Boston and now a critic of fluoridation. Animal studies which Mullenix and co-workers conducted at Forsyth in the early 1990's indicated that fluoride was a powerful central nervous system (CNS) toxin and might adversely affect human brain functioning even at low doses. (New epidemiological evidence from China adds support, showing a correlation between low-dose fluoride exposure and diminished IQ in children.) Mullenix's results were published in 1995 in a reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal.

During her investigation, Mullenix was astonished to discover there had been virtually no previous US studies of fluoride's effects on the human brain. Then, her application for a grant to continue her CNS research was turned down by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), when an NIH panel flatly told her that "fluoride does not have central nervous system effects".
Michael R. Meuser,
Environmental Sociologist



"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened."  - Winston Churchill -

It has been a long established joke about not drinking the water in Third World countries. Now it is here in America that the water has been declared unsafe to drink, and it is no joke. Whereas the greatest problem with water in the underdeveloped nations is usually such as amoebic dysentery, serious but reversible, in the U.S. it is rat poison one gets in the drinking water--and it is no accident.

Extensive studies, ignored with a yawn by those who believe they are being served well by the media and various dental associations, have shown that the consumption of fluoride in drinking water and prescription doses is extremely harmful and deleterious in a number of ways.

Reputable researchers from such as Harvard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerable other research investigators, have shown that fluoridation of drinking water can result in brain and other physiological damage producing such abnormalities as:

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Hyperactivity or passive malaise -- depending on whether exposure is pre or postnatal
Alzheimer's disease or senile dementia
The death of brain cells directly involved in the decision making processes
Cracked, pitted and brittle teeth and bones not being considered as a potential leading cause of osteoporosis
Higher hip fracture rates
Reduction in intelligence and increased learning disability

The list goes on of primary and ancillary defects and damage caused by the addition of a substance used in rat poison.

In a 1997 copyrighted article once seriously considered for publication by The New York Times Magazine, investigative reporter Joel Griffiths followed a convoluted trail of once-secret documents stretching as far back as the Manhattan Project. In a subsequent article entitled, "Fluoride,Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb" Griffiths collaborated with journalist Christopher Bryson to piece together not only the origin of water fluoridation, but its secret rationale and the insidious reasoning behind the introduction into the drinking water of two-thirds of American cities of what is nothing more than a toxic waste product.

Griffiths told The WINDS that The New York Times Magazine had shown great interest in his original article to the point of suggesting specific rewrites resulting even in the submission of a final working draft. Then, according to Griffiths, their interested suddenly disappeared. Later when
Bryson joined with Griffiths the two journalists had a similar experience with The Christian Science Monitor who had actually accepted their final co-authored work for publication but never put it in print and finally canceled.

The authors, who have worked for such as the BBC, New York Public Television, The Christian Science Monitor and others, boldly introduced their work by stating, "The following article exposes the biggest ongoing medical experiment ever carried out by the United States government on an unsuspecting population," and continues with meticulously verified sources derived largely from documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

"One of the most toxic chemicals known," they claim, "fluoride rapidly emerged as the leading chemical health hazard of the U.S. atomic bomb program -- both for workers and for nearby communities, the documents reveal."

Other revelations include:

"Much of the original proof that fluoride is safe for humans in low doses was generated by A-bomb program scientists, who had been secretly ordered to provide 'evidence useful in litigation' against defense contractors for fluoride injury to citizens. The first lawsuits against the U.S. A-bomb program were not over radiation, but over fluoride damage, the documents show."

Dr. John R. Lee, MD, was chairman of the Environmental Health Committee of his local medical association in Marin County, California when he came head-to-head with the fluoride issue. According to Dr. Lee, the county had continually pushed water fluoridation on the local ballot until it passed by a slim one per cent.

"The medical society was receiving a lot of phone calls from people who were wondering what the truth was about the benefit, or lack of benefit, of fluoride. As a result, they turned it over to the Environmental Health Committee."

Dr. Lee was the perfect, unbiased investigator because, "Up until then," he told The WINDS, "I didn't know anything about fluoride, so our committee got the scientific references from both sides of the issue. We studied the references that led to more references--and we tracked it all down and found that the fluoride literature is mostly hogwash.

"Then," he continues, "we asked the medical society if we could do a study to determine how much fluoride there already was in the food--because in Canada they had been monitoring that and found that there was a lot of fluoride in their food chain due to, among other things, processing with fluoridated water.

"Our study of the food that children eat determined that there was plenty of fluoride in it and there was really no reason to add more to the water because it already exceeded what the public health department determined was the maximum daily dose.

"That's when I became aware of what was going on and went to testify at the State Board of Health. It was amazing to see these guys come out with their references that really aren't references--statements taken out of someone else's paper that wasn't based on anything--a kind of circular, self-referencing research. ["Joe said it so now I can quote Joe, even though Joe was just quoting me."] They would take statements made in textbooks that were published before there was any fluoridation and food was not being processed with fluoridated water--and they would just change the dates. We found all these tricks being played with the data. It was then that I discovered that it was not a scientific dispute but dishonest trickery. It was all a sham."

When The WINDS asked Dr. Lee why, according to his research into the controversy, he thought there was so much political force driving the fluoridation movement, the physician/scientist said, "It's a toxic waste product of many types of industry; for instance, glass production, phosphate fertilizer production and many others. They would have no way to dispose of the tons of fluoride waste they produce unless they could find some use for it, so they made up this story about it being good for dental health. Then they can pass it through everyone's bodies and into the sewer." [A novel approach to toxic waste disposal--just feed it to the people and let their bodies "detoxify" it]. "It is a well coordinated effort," Dr. Lee added, "to keep it from being declared for what it is--a toxic waste."

This could cause one to wonder if the public were not already aware of the dangers of radioactive plutonium waste, what means the government would use to dispose of it.

Dr. Lee's argument carries considerable credibility in light of the revelations proceeding from Griffiths' and Bryson's research into the previously classified documents. That research shows, as mentioned previously, that the idea of fluoride being good for people's teeth originated with the atomic bomb's Manhattan Project. That "fact" that fluoride was beneficial constituted the government's cardinal defense against lawsuits stemming from an environmental contamination that took place from the Du Pont chemical factory in Deepwater, New Jersey in 1944."The factory was then producing millions of pounds of fluoride for the Manhattan Project, the ultra-secret U.S. military program racing to produce the world's first atomic bomb."

It should be noted here that, without exception, all scientists interviewed during the course of researching this article agreed upon one overwhelming motivation for the government's vigorous promotion of water fluoridation and other dental applications of fluoride--though they've known since the mid 30's of the highly toxic nature of the substance. That unanimous opinion was that it ultimately posed a very tidy solution to the disposal of a very nasty toxic waste. One EPA scientist quoted previously, Dr. William Hirzy, went so far as to conjecture that the red ink that would be produced by the fertilizer industry alone, if it were required to properly dispose of fluoride as a waste product, would exceed $100 million a year. As the legendary New York City Police Detective, Frank Serpico, was once warned, "With that kind of money you don't [mess] around."

The WINDS has obtained a copy of a letter dated March, 1983 on EPA letterhead, written by then U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, Rebecca Hanmer. In that document Ms. Hanmer frankly admits that:

In regard to the use of fluosilicic acid as a source of fluoride for fluoridation, this agency [the EPA] regards such use as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product [read that: toxic waste-product] fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized, and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them.

Keeping in mind that the EPA considers a spill of more than twenty-five pounds of common table salt an environmental hazard or "incident", in fairness it must be asked, first, is fluoride really effective in reducing tooth decay and, secondly, at the same time is it safe for drinking water?

The answer to the first question: not according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

...Investigators have failed to show a consistent correlation between anticaries [cavities] activity and the specific amounts of fluoride incorporated into enamel.

...Since the 1970's, caries scores have been declining in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere.

...National decreases have not occurred in all countries, notably Brazil and France where the caries scores have not changed, and Japan, Nigeria, and Thailand where the scores have increased." [Japan & Thailand report high dietary fluoride levels].


The political and financial forces surrounding the fluoride industry, according to Dr. Lee and others, are vicious and unrelenting in their assaults upon anyone daring to place themselves at odds with it. Dr. Lee briefly outlined cases with which he is personally acquainted where reputable doctors and scientists have had their careers either ruined or severely crippled as the result of trying to introduce truth into this darkness-shrouded global enterprise. Cases in point:

During the time of the election [to decide on whether or not to fluoridate the county's water supply], Lee said the head of the Marin County Public Health Department was claiming "it was beneficial and perfectly safe. After the election, when I discovered all these things, I presented them to her, showing her all the tricks that had been used. She then asked the state public health department if she had the power to stop the fluoridation, realizing she had been mistaken. The next thing I knew," Lee continued, "she had taken early retirement and left for New Orleans to take care of her mother. She told me that if she made any statement about it at all she would have lost all her retirement benefits."

Dr. Allan S. Gray, a British Columbia health officer, did a study of all school children's teeth in that province, which is only about 15% fluoridated. He found that the teeth of those children in British Columbia where there was no fluoridation were in much better condition than in the fluoridated areas. His findings were published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, entitled, "Time for a New Baseline?" So the message was that fluoridation did not provide any benefit to children and for publishing that research the top public health dentist in British Columbia was demoted and sent to Ottawa where he was put in a basement office and ordered to never speak to anybody about the matter again. If he did, he would lose his standing in the public health department of Canada and very likely all of his retirement benefits.

Dr. John Colquhon, an Aukland, New Zealand dental researcher with a prominent university, performed studies on children's teeth and the neighboring towns that were not fluoridated and discovered the children had no difference in cavity rate--they just all had fluorosed teeth [damage done by the presence of fluoride in their drinking water]. When he published his findings he was demoted and lost all of his retirement benefits and was forced to retire. As a Ph.D. he had to take a teaching position--all of the people he had considered his colleagues for thirty years suddenly didn't recognize him any more."

Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., formerly of Harvard University experienced the wrath of the industry when she walked blindly into the fluoride fray as part of her research program with Harvard's Department of Neuropathology and Psychiatry. While holding a dual appointment to Harvard and the Forsyth Dental Research Institute, Dr. Mullenix established the Department of Toxicology at Forsyth for the purpose of investigating the environmental impact of substances that were used in dentistry. During that undertaking she was also directed by the institute's head to investigate fluoride toxicity. That's where, as she puts it, "things got weird."


While conducting interviews and gathering the data contained in this writing, this office was repeatedly referred by EPA scientists, university professors and physicians to Dr. Mullenix's research at the Forsyth Dental Institute as a primary and seminal source of reliable scientific research on fluoride toxicity.

The Forsyth Dental Center is a highly respected research institution established in 1910 for the purpose of providing free dental care for the children of Boston. It is the largest and, considered by many, the most highly respected dental research institution in the world. All Harvard dental students are required to take a portion of their training at Forsyth.

It is interesting to note that the, then, director of the institute, Dr. Jack Hein, who was responsible for her assignment to fluoride toxicology studies was, according to Mullenix, instrumental in some of the original research that led to the introduction of fluoride into toothpaste while he was working for Colgate.

"I wasn't too excited about studying fluoride," Mullenix told this reporter, "because, quite frankly, it was 'good for your teeth' and all that, and I thought the studies would be basically just another control and I had no interest in fluoride." However, because it was part of what she was hired to do, she said, and because she had just astounded the institute by achieving the unattainable--securing a grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the neurotoxicity of the treatments used for childhoodleukemia--she decided to incorporate the fluoride studies into that research milieu. In fact, Mullenix claimed, "I was in the top four per cent in the country" for such funding. "The institute was tickled pink, but I really had no idea what a quagmire I was getting into."

For her toxicology studies Dr. Mullenix designed a computer pattern recognition system that has been described by other scientists as nothing short of elegant in its ability to study fluoride's effects on the neuromotor functions of rats.


"By about 1990 I had gathered enough data from the test and control animals," Mullenix continues, "to realize that fluoride doesn't look clean." When she reviewed that data she realized that something was seriously affecting her test animals. They had all (except the control group) been administered doses of fluoride sufficient to bring their blood levels up to the same as those that had caused dental fluorosis [a brittleness and staining of the teeth] in thousands of children. Up to this point, Mullenix explained, fluorosis was widely thought to be the only effect of excessive fluoridation.

The scientist's first hint that she may not be navigating friendly waters came when she was ordered to present her findings to the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) [a division of NIH, the National Institute of Health]. "That's when the 'fun' started," she said, "I had no idea what I was getting into. I walked into the main corridors there and all over the walls was 'The Miracle of Fluoride'. That was my first real kick-in-the-pants as to what was actually going on." The NIH display, she said, actually made fun of and ridiculed those that were against fluoridation. "I thought, 'Oh great!' Here's the main NIH hospital talking about the 'Miracle of Fluoride' and I'm giving a seminar to the NIDR telling them that fluoride is neurotoxic!"

What Dr. Mullenix presented at the seminar that, in reality, sounded the death knell of her career was that:

"The fluoride pattern of behavioral problems matches up with the same results of administering radiation and chemotherapy [to cancer patients]. All of these really nasty treatments that are used clinically in cancer
therapy are well known to cause I.Q. deficits in children. That's one of the best studied effects they know of. The behavioral pattern that results from the use of fluoride matches that produced by cancer treatment that causes a
reduction in intelligence."

At a meeting with dental industry representatives immediately following her presentation, Mullenix was bluntly asked if she was saying that their company's products were lowering the I.Q. of children? "And I told them, 'basically, yes.'"

The documents obtained by authors Griffiths and Bryson seem to add yet another voice of corroboration to the reduced intelligence effects of fluoride. "New epidemiological evidence from China adds support," the writers claim, "showing a correlation between low dose fluoride exposure and diminished I.Q. in children."

Then in 1994, after refining her research and findings, Dr. Mullenix presented her results to the Journal of Neurotoxicology and Teratology, considered probably the world's most respected publication in that field. Three days after she joyfully announced to the Forsyth Institute that she had been accepted for publication by the journal, she was dismissed from her position. What followed was a complete evaporation of all grants and funding for any of Mullenix's research. What that means in the left-brain world of scientific research, which is fueled by grants of government and corporate capital, is the equivalent to an academic burial. Her letter of dismissal from the Forsyth Institute stated as their reason for that action that her work was not "dentally related." [Fluoride research--not dentally related?] The institute's director stated, according to Mullenix, "they didn't consider the safety or the toxicity of fluoride as being their kind of science." Of course, a logical question begs itself at this last statement:

Why was Dr. Mullenix assigned the study of fluoride toxicity in the first place if it was not "their kind of science"?

Subsequently, she was continually hounded by both Forsyth and the NIH as to the identity of the journal in which her research was to be published. She told The WINDS that she refused to disclose that information because she knew the purpose of this continual interrogation was so that they could attempt to quash its publication.

Almost immediately following her dismissal, Dr. Mullenix said, the Forsyth Institute received a quarter-million dollar grant from the Colgate company. Coincidence or reward?

Her findings clearly detailed the developmental effects of fluoride, pre and postnatal. Doses administered before birth produced marked hyperactivity in offspring. Postnatal administration caused the infant rats to exhibit what Dr. Mullenix calls the "couch potato syndrome"--a malaise or absence of initiative and activity. One need only observe the numerous children being dosed with Ritalin as treatment for their hyperactivity to draw logical correlations.

Following her dismissal, the scientist's equipment and computers, designed specifically for the studies, were mysteriously damaged and destroyed by water leakage before she could remove them from Forsyth. Coincidence?

Dr. Mullenix was then given an unfunded research position at Children's Hospital in Boston, but with no equipment and no money--what for? "The people at Children's Hospital, for heaven's sake, came right out and said they were scared because they knew how important the fluoride issue was," Mullenix said. "Even at Forsyth they told me I was endangering funds for the institution if I published that information." It has become clear to such as Dr. Mullenix et al, that money, not truth, drives science--even at the expense of the health and lives of the nation's citizens.

"I got into science because it was fun," she said, "and I would like to go back and do further studies, but I no longer have any faith in the integrity of the system. I find research is utterly controlled." If one harbors any doubt that large sums of corporate money and political clout can really provide sufficient influence to induce scientists and respected physicians to endorse potentially harmful treatment for their patients, consider the results published in a January 8th article of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM. The Journal revealed their survey of doctors in favor of, and against, a particular drug that has been proven harmful (in this case calcium blockers shown to significantly increase the risk of breast cancer in older women). "Our results," the Journal said, "demonstrate a strong association between authors' published positions on the safety of calcium-channel antagonists and their financial relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers."

When The WINDS asked Dr. Mullenix where she planned to take her research, she said that she is not hopeful that any place exists that isn't "afraid of fluoride or printing the truth."

The end result of the dark odyssey of Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., and her journey through the nightmare of the fluoride industry is, essentially, a ruined career of a brilliant scientist because her's was not "their kind of


It has become evident, as the result of the once-secret documents obtained by Griffiths and Bryson that Dr. Mullenix's research was not the first to discover the dangers of fluoride. "The original secret version -- obtained by these reporters -- of a 1948 study published by Program F [the code name given fluoride studies] scientists in the Journal of the American Dental Association shows that evidence of adverse health effects from fluoride was censored by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)- considered the most powerful of Cold War agencies - for reasons of national security." One would necessarily have to ask what the perceived threat was to national security if fluoride was found to be toxic by the American Dental Association. Did they perhaps perceive a potential threat as proceeding from the American people?

"...Up to eighty percent," the Griffiths/Bryson article continues, "in some cities -- now have dental fluorosis, the first visible sign of excessive fluoride exposure, according to the U.S. National Research Council. (The signs are whitish flecks or spots, particularly on the front teeth, or dark spots or stripes in more severe cases)."

Dr. William Hirzy, an organic chemist and a senior scientist in Environmental Risk Assessment with EPA originally became involved in the fluoride issue "as a matter of professional ethics when one of the EPA scientists came to us and complained that he was being asked to write a Federal Register notice with which he has substantial ethical problems." The scientist protested that "the agency wants me to write this notice that says it's alright to have teeth that look like you've been chewing on rocks and tar balls. I have a real problem with that," he told Hirzy.

To issue a notice of intended regulation in the Federal Register means that after a specified period of time the notice essentially becomes law and is entered into either the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) or the United States Code (USC). This process is a much used manner of creating law by circumventing the constitutional process of legislation. It becomes what is called "administrative law."

"At that time," Hirzy said, "EPA was revising its drinking water standards for fluoride and was about to issue a notice that four milligrams per liter was an acceptable level of fluoride for drinking water." The great problem with that, Hirzy explained, "indicated that a substantial number of people who were exposed to that concentration would have teeth suffering from severe dental fluorosis eroded, cracked and pitted and stained....The agency [EPA] was saying that it was not a health effect, it was only cosmetic. Frankly," Hirzy remonstrated, "it doesn't seem to be a very ethical stance for us to say that if your teeth don't work--if they're cracked and pitted and falling out--that it's not a health effect.

"The agency," Hirzy told The WINDS, "was taking that position because of the peculiar wording of the Safe Drinking Water Act which says that EPA has to set standards that protect against adverse health effects with an adequate margin of safety." So they wanted to say,according to Dr. Hirzy,that "severe dental fluorosis is not an adverse health effect." If, in essence, you just say it is not an adverse health effect, you then effectively comply with the law by juggling the definition.

The great problem with the system, Hirzy explained, is that the EPA is not a constitutionally mandated organization and therefore cannot [or is not supposed to] make law but can only advise the executive branch of government. The dilemma arises when whatever administration is in office comes to the agency and says, "We want you to write that the science supports this particular decision, whatever it may be, that's where I draw the line and say 'no dice, we're not going to do that....You can't make us lie about the science.' It makes us complicit in deception. We do not want to have to invoke the Nuremberg defense," (i.e., I was just doing what I was told).

Hirzy said that the EPA, in fact, got away with imposing a standard that effectually ruins the teeth of very many who drink fluoridated water because, though "widely known to cause severe fluorosis at four milligrams per liter, that is the standard in effect to this day."

Of even more ominous portent, Hirzy said, is that, far from being merely cosmetic in effect, "what's going on in the teeth is a window to what's going on in the bones. What fluoride does in the hydroxy-epitite structure in teeth it does to the same structure in bone. It is well known now that fluoride produces faulty bone, more brittle, basically mimicking in the bone what is clearly visible in the teeth." A kind of artificial osteoporosis.

"It's an outrageous situation," the EPA scientist claims, when you have fluoridated household drinking water in such concentration that the agency must inform parents that they "should not be allowing their children to drink four milligrams per liter of fluoride, and if they have that in their water supply they should go to an alternative source." Does it not seem a little strange that the government authorizes the addition of a chemical to ostensibly help children's teeth and then tells parents not to allow their children to drink it? We are most certainly not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

So toxic is the fluoride added to drinking water that, according to Hirzy, if one were to take a dose of it about half the size of that "500 mg vitamin C tablet you take in the morning, you'd be dead long before the sun went down. When you're talking about something with that kind of potent toxicity," he says, "it's unrealistic to think that the only adverse effect it has is death. It must be doing something intracellularly to cause these effects."

As evidence that the government has known for over sixty years that fluoride is a health hazard, Hirzy quoted from an article, "clear back in 1934 in which the American Dental Association plainly treats the subject very matter-of-factly. It calls fluoride a general protoplasmic poison."

Robert Carton, Ph.D., twenty years with EPA and now employed as a scientist with the Army, claims that, on "July 7, 1997 the EPA scientists, engineers and attorneys who assess the scientific data for the Safe Drinking Water Act standards and other EPA regulations have gone on record against the practice of adding fluoride to public drinking water.

Question: if the Environmental Protection Agency possesses the clout to virtually confiscate a man's land because some of it is a little soggy--calling it wetlands--why do they not exercise that power to enforce de-fluoridation of drinking water, which they have declared unsafe? Does money play any role in this?

Dr. Carton informed this office that fluoride itself is not the only major hazard stemming from its introduction into city water supplies. "A very real danger lies in the fact that fluosilicic acid leaches lead from plumbing. "There are a couple of places in the country," Dr. Carton said, "Seattle being one and Thermont, Maryland...that when they stopped adding fluoride to their water the lead levels dropped in half."

The problem with the data used to determine the safety of fluoride, Carton said, is that it is all based on the original figures presented by the chief scientist in charge of the Manhattan Project's fluoride safety, Dr. Harold Hodge. He falsified or "cooked the numbers," as Carton put it, to make his data fit what the government wanted.

In addition to the dental and skeletal damage caused by fluoride, Dr. Carton also cites research that claims that a specific antibody (immunoglobulin - IgM) that is missing from patients with certain types of brain tumors is also missing from the blood of those tested with elevated blood fluoride levels. This is leading many to theorize that such brain tumors are much more likely among individuals consuming fluoride compounds in their diet. Since most juice concentrates and food stuffs are processed with fluoridated water, such blood elevations are becoming much more common.


In a study published last October in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Dr. Robert L. Isaacson makes a number of astounding revelations about this toxic waste in our water.

"Probably the most startling observation from our first experiment," Isaacson states, "was the high mortality rate in the group of animals that received the lowest dose of AlF 3 [aluminum fluoride]. Different groups of rats had been given one of three levels of AlF3 in double distilled drinking water: 0.5 ppm, 5 ppm, and 50 ppm starting at about four months of age. A fourth group received only the distilled water." The experiment lasted only 45 weeks but, Isaacson stated, "Eighty per cent of the rats in the [lowest
concentration group] died before the end of the experiment" which was the highest mortality rate of all. "Not only did the rats in the lowest dose group die more often during the experiment, they looked poorly well before their deaths. Even the rats in the low dose group that managed to survive until the end of the 45 weeks looked to be in poor health. They had much thinner hair than those in the other groups and the exposed skin was bronzed, mottled and flaky. Their teeth and toe nails were excessively dark." Follow-up studies, the scientist said, "showed the same high level of mortality." The study goes on to say that, in subsequent research, low levels of the same kind of fluoride that is added to city drinking water "also allows the enhancement of brain levels of Al."

Another prominent finding by Isaacson's group was the significant reduction on the cells of the hippocampus, that part of the brain that acts like a central processing unit in a computer, telling other parts what to do and how to function. The hippocampus is the primary decision making part of the brain, damage to which causes the victim to become more submissive and less challenging to his environment. One could logically question if this is not a pivotal reason for the government's push for universal fluoridation.

In the brain of his low dose test animals, Isaacson observed a tangling of capillary blood vessels, reduced oxygen uptake along with the peculiar crystalline structures, all of which are identical to those found in Alzheimer's victims. Dr. Isaacson's research indicates that the Alzheimer's-like effects result from the transport of aluminum to the brain and the high death rates from the toxicity of the fluorine.

Aluminum has previously to this, of course, been implicated in Alzheimer's, but how is the link made between fluoridation of human drinking water and the presence of aluminum fluoride? According to Drs. Carton and Burgstahler, fluoride being the most electrochemically active of all the elements, it has a strong propensity to create metallic compounds with itself whenever fluoridated water comes into contact with such things as aluminum cooking vessels. Ergo: there is created aluminum fluoride from cooking with such vessels using fluoridated water and not incidentally, according to Dr. Robert Carton, former EPA scientist, aluminum is used in city water treatment.

"An incidental observation of possible importance must be mentioned," the research paper adds. "Pathologic changes were found in the kidneys of animals in both the AlF 3 and NaF [sodium fluoride] groups." If all this weren't enough, the research team observed a "general impairment in the immune capacities of the treated subjects." They also found that the death rate increased among those animals treated with the aluminum fluoride where stress was elevated due to a training regime.

The research clearly indicates that not only does the presence of fluoride reduce the body's ability to utilize oxygen and nutrients, but actively inhibits the system's ability to rid itself of waste. This creates an apparent synergistic assault upon the health by poisoning the body with its own toxic waste while impairing its effectiveness to use the nutrients that would help in the detoxification process.

In the face of overwhelming data proving that fluoride is not only not beneficial but extremely harmful; the reliable evidence that the government has known of this for over sixty years; the continuing press for fluoridation in the drinking water of American cities, makes all the more believable the portentous claim set forth in the Protocols:

"...We now appear on the scene as apparent saviors of the common worker, saving him from this oppression by enrolling him in the ranks of our various forces fighting for imaginary civil liberties. The upper class, which enjoyed by law the labor of the workers, was interested in seeing that the workers were well fed, healthy and strong. We are interested in just the opposite-in the diminishment, the killing out of the nations. Our power is in the chronic, physical and mental weakness of the worker. What that results in is his being made the slave of our will, and he will not find in the authorities of his own society either the strength or energy to oppose us."


1. "Fluoride, Teeth and the Atomic Bomb", Griffiths & Bryson, 1997. Author Griffiths indicated that this URL contains an accurate reproduction of their article.

2. John R. Lee, MD, article: "The Truth About Mandatory Fluoridation", April 15, 1995.

3. "Review of Fluoride Benefits and Risks", Department of Health and Human Services, February 1991, p. 7 & p. 31.

4. The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, Vol. 53, pp 763-765, 1987.

5. "Neurotoxicity of Sodium Fluoride in Rats", Mullenix, P. Neurotoxicology and Teratology", 17(2), 1995.

6. The New England Journal of Medicine -- January 8, 1998 -- Volume 338, Number 2 [SPECIAL ARTICLE] "Conflict of Interest in the Debate over Calcium-Channel Antagonists", Henry Thomas Stelfox, Grace Chua, Keith O'Rourke, Allan S. Detsky.

7. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 825 "Neuroprotective Agents, Third International Conference." Title: "Toxin-Induced Blood Vessel Inclusion caused by the Chronic Administration of Aluminum and Sodium Fluoride and their Implication for Dementia." Robert. L. Isaacson, et al, p. 152-166.

Further reading:

FLUORIDE: Protected Pollutant or Panacea? A very extensive source for scientific papers published on fluoridation

Robert J. Carton, Ph.D., Former EPA scientist. Article: "Corruption and Fraud at the EPA"

The following resources appear valid but The WINDS was unable to fully verify their authenticity and therefore make no claims for such, with the exception that this office has ascertained that Dr. William L. Marcus is currently employed by the EPA.

Richard G. Foulkes, M.D., Article:"Celebration or Shame? Fifty Years of Fluoridation (1945-1995)"

William L. Marcus, Ph.D., Senior Science Advisor, Office of Science and Technology, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Letter.

Written 1/30/98. ***Updated 11/13/98 to correct and clarify historicity




Chemicals 'affect child brains' ~ The study has raised many concerns about the use of chemicals Man-made chemicals....From the BBC

Chemicals and Health ~ Help stop the contamination of children and wildlife ~ from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Clean Air Council ~ Childrens' Environmental Health

Doris J. Rapp, MD. F.A.A.A., F.A.A.P. ~ Our Toxic World

Environmental Dangers Pose a Threat to Children's Skin ~ AAD (American Academy of Dermotologists)

Growing Up On Chemicals - Our Children's Toxic Environment By Jane Sheppard from the Healthy Child Online website.

Science and Health: Kids and Chemicals with Bill Moyers from the PBS website.


Dr. Mercola's links on fluoride information.

EcoMail Info on the Dangers of Fluoride

Info on fluoride from the PFPC.

The Dangers of Fluoride and Fluoridation by Michael Schachter M.D., F.A.C.A.M. (Excerpted from Smart Medicine For a Healthier Child)