While the US continues to fluoridate drinking water through municipal water supplies, Lebanon has narrowly avoided having the toxic additive added to their table salt due to activists and health professionals loudly contesting mandated fluoridation of the country’s salt.
Through online petitions submitted by activists, and many meetings with the Health Minister, Wael Abou Faour, excess fluoride exposure has been narrowly avoided by the people of Lebanon.
“This is an issue of public health in Lebanon,” said Mounir Doumit, oral health spokesperson for the Public Health Ministry. It is also a public health issue for people around the world.
Supporters of the mandatory fluoridation of the country’s salt argued that it was necessary for the dental health of its people. It is heavily debated, but fluoride has not proven to help prevent dental cavities.
Omar Obeid, an AUB nutritionist, opposes salt fluoridation. He notes one meta-analysis reviewing multiple studies on salt fluoridation which called for further research to clarify fluorides ability to reduce the number of cavities.
He found that fluoride levels were not excessively low enough to even warrant salt fluoridation. What’s more, it’s found in tea at high concentrations, which is largely consumed by the Lebanese. He warned against exposure to a substance the body doesn’t need.
“Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance, but it is not a nutrient to the body,” he said, contrasting it with iodine, an essential nutrient that is actually used to combat fluoride exposure.
He’s also worried about the proper administration of fluoride by the salt industry. Getting the right concentration of fluoride in salt “is essential as what is harmless in small amounts becomes toxic in large amounts.”
“What if they don’t do a proper mixing of fluoride, this is what we are worried about. Who will control them and how?
…If you are in the public school system, you will notice that 80-90 percent of children don’t have a toothbrush at home, so even with fluoridation, decay won’t go down, in fact, you may be giving false hope with such a campaign,” Obeid said.
The Centers for Disease Control for the US says that fluoride works by hardening the teeth, but really, fluoride can also damage bones. Unfortunately, the condition of teeth and bones may be the least of our worries. There are now 26 published studies that indicate an association between fairly modest exposure to fluoride and lowered IQ in children.
Evidence suggests that adding fluoride to every meal through a simple substance like table salt would effectively harm entire generations neurologically.
Fluoride has been called “the most damaging environmental pollution since the Cold War” – it’s a good thing Lebanon won’t be adding it to their salt…yet.