Proposition 65, which was passed by California voters in 1986, requires businesses to post warnings if their products expose people to carcinogenic substances. OEHHA is the lead agency for the implementation of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, and periodically screens candidate chemicals for inclusion in the Proposition 65 list of chemicals.
Fluoride was identified, along with 37 other compounds, from a total of 80, principally because of "its important widespread use," according to the California Dental Association (CDA).
More than 800 chemicals are currently on the Proposition 65 carcinogen list.
Prior to the October 12 meeting, the OEHHA received dozens of comments from individuals and organizations -- both for and against fluoride -- regarding its July 2011 report, "Evidence on the Carcinogenity of Fluoride and Its Salts."
But after reviewing the scientific evidence, the OEHHA unanimously voted against adding fluoride to the Proposition 65 list, saying that the research overall is "inconclusive."
Among those who submitted testimony to the OEHHA were ADA President Raymond Gist, DDS, and ADA Executive Director Kathleen O'Loughlin, DMD, MPH.
"Because we believe that the evidence reviewed in the OEHHA report is inconsistent and scientifically inconclusive with respect to drawing conclusions about the potential of fluoride to be carcinogenic in humans, it is important to consider the proven health benefits of fluoride," they wrote in a September 1 letter to the OEHHA. "Throughout decades of research and more than 65 years of practical experience, fluoridation of public water supplies has been responsible for dramatically improving the public's oral health."
Howard Pollick, BDS, MPH, chair of the California Fluoridation Advisory Council, also submitted testimony in support of fluoride.
"The review of the literature in this OEHHA report provides the evidence needed for the Carcinogen Identification Committee to consider whether fluoride and its salts should or should not be among the chemicals listed in Proposition 65," Dr. Pollick wrote in a September 5 letter to the OEHHA. "Additional peer-reviewed evidence since the release of the report provides further evidence that fluoride and its salts should not be listed among the chemicals listed in Proposition 65."
But some commenters expressed concern over studies that have found a link between fluoride consumption and bone cancer, especially in young males.
"There are numerous studies connecting fluoride with cancer, which are not addressed in the current review document," stated Kim Glazzard of Organic Sacramento in her written testimony. "The very existence of cumulative fluoride that is stored in the bones and affects the immune system properties which are attributed to bone marrow, and which have a critical role in arresting carcinogenic development, have also not been addressed here."
In a statement issued October 13, the CDA expressed its support of the OEHHA's decision.
"Despite the claims of a small number of activists, the use of fluorides are safe and effective. The committee carefully reviewed all of the scientific research available on fluoride and its salts and determined that the evidence fails to show that fluoride is linked to cancer," the association said in the statement. "CDA strongly supports the use of fluorides in professional dental office applications, over-the-counter consumer products, and community water fluoridation as important components for preventing dental disease."
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