Fluoridation – Friend or Foe?

By: D. Pickering

 

Water is the basis of life. It slakes out thirst, cooks our food, brings life to our gardens, and refreshment to our bodies and souls. We take it for granted and rarely give it a second thought. Most of our bodies are water, 50 to 65 percent of the adult human’s weight is derived from the lowly H2O molecule. Unfortunately, this vital substance may carry potentially harmful compounds.

Chemicals are routinely added to municipal drinking water supplies for ostensibly beneficial reasons. Public health decision makers claim these chemicals have health benefits. For example, fluoride is supposed to make our teeth strong and healthy. A growing number of health care professionals and scientists are rethinking this assertion, and suspect it is slowly poisoning us. This paper will examine the down side of fluoridated water.

Naturally Occuring Fluoride vs. Articial Forms of Fluoride

Several types of fluoride can be found in water. First, there is naturally occurring fluoride that comes from stone, for example from river rock or reservoir basins. It generally is not thought that this naturally occurring type of fluoride, in relatively small concentrations, is unhealthy to humans or animals.

There are other types of fluoride that are artificially added to water which are of concern. Sodium fluoride, sodium silicofluoride, and hydrofluorosilicic acid are chemical additives that pose significant health and safety hazards according to their material safety data sheets (MSDS). As waste from manufacturing facilities, such as fertilizer plants, or nuclear plant waste, these fluoride compounds are a source of non-point pollution.

“Sodium Fluoride:  Danger! Poison- Toxic By Ingestion”

fluoridebag
Image Credit:  Screen Capture from WCVB News- Boston

Sodium fluoride is added to our drinking water. According to Stephanie Chandler, sodium fluoride has many uses. She explains that it is added to toothpaste to help keep teeth strong, and is a common ingredient in pesticides, fungicides and insecticides because it is toxic to insects and unwanted flora.

A material safety data sheet (MSDS) offered by sciencelab.com specifies that sodium fluoride is a class 6.1 poisonous material, meaning it is so toxic to humans that it cannot be transported without the use of personal protective equipment from head to toe. The MSDS describes several adverse health effects on humans.

 

Long term exposure can have chronic effects on mammalian somatic cells. For example, fluoride can mutate genetic material inside body cells (mutagenic). A somatic cell is an early stage, undifferentiated cell. Undifferentiated cells change into specialized cells that form body tissues and organs. Long term exposure to sodium fluoride, therefore, can lead to damage of the kidneys, lungs, nervous system, heart, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, bones, and (surprisingly) teeth. The level that constitutes “safe” exposure is debatable.

Haz Mat Crews wearing protective gear to clean up Fluoride
Haz Mat Crews responded in full protective gear, to the Rock Island Water Treatment Plant in Illinois, to clean up a Hydrofluorosilic Acid Spill.  Image Credit:  WQAD News- Kristy Mergenthal, Reporter

 

Sodium fluorosilicate is a mixture of sodium, silicon, and fluorine. Its powder form is so toxic that, like sodium fluoride, its handlers need head to toe personal protective equipment. As a synthetic toxic waste product, sodium fluorosilicate is known to cause cancer, according to PL Chang. This toxic waste comes from phosphate fertilizer industries and its poisons include arsenic, lead and radioactive particles. Sue Merriam explains that roughly 70 to 75 percent of the sodium fluorosilicic acid added to drinking water comes from a company that manufactures fertilizers.

Hydrofluorosilicic acid is also a toxic waste that is a highly concentrated industrial byproduct of aluminum and fertilizer manufacturing, and nuclear plant waste facilities. Hydrofluorisilicic acid is derived from phosphate factories using strip-mined rocks, according to Arjun Walia. Phosphate and other chemicals are extracted from rock, and the concentrated fluoride compounds that are also pulled out during this process are saved and sold later for water fluoridation. Many other byproduct contaminants from this process are released into the atmosphere which leads to pollution.

It seems to make financial sense to find a use for manufacturing byproducts that would otherwise be wasted, as disposal costs are expensive. Remarkably, the majority of this toxic waste is bought by local water facilities under the guise of health promotion.

The general public is becoming more informed about the issues. Susan Smith, a concerned taxpayer in a small community of Wisconsin, offers this analogy: “We pay taxes for the garbage man to haul away our waste every week. So why should it be different for factories? Why are our tax dollars being used to pay for their garbage, just to have that waste added to our water? How can hazardous, concentrated waste, be miraculously transformed into a health benefit? Diluting pollution is not a solution to the toxic waste problem, and putting it the public water supply is reprehensible.”

Scientists who aren’t against fluoridation say there is only one type of fluoride added to the water, so called “natural” fluoride from rocks and streams. Despite the fact that highly concentrated fluoride substances, which are artificially extracted from rocks, are in fact unnatural, some experts divert attention from the problem by citing supposed dental benefits “Drinking [fluoridated] water keeps the teeth strong and reduced tooth decay by approximately 25% in children and adults,” states Frieden. The argument presumes that fluoridated water is a good thing, it keeps teeth stronger thereby reducing dental costs and improving the health care system.

Tooth Decay Trends in Fluoridated and Non-Fluoridated Countries
Source:  Michael Connett,  Fluoride Action Network- July 2012, Web- 19 April,  2016

However, that claim is being challenged. In fact, evidence points to healthier teeth in places having less fluoridation. The U.S., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are known for using fluoridation. There are many countries that do not fluoridate their water: Belgium, Norway, Greece, Italy, among other Western countries. Charts developed by Michael Connett, based on World Health Organization (WHO) data, suggest an overall drop in tooth decay everywhere, however, the greatest reductions are found in areas that do not fluoridate.  The chart illustrates the remarkable difference between Iceland and the United States. Since 1980, the United States’ rates have dropped only 1.5 points, while Iceland’s have dropped close to 7 points. It is clear that Iceland, a country that doesn’t fluoridate its water, has enjoyed a higher decrease in tooth decay than the United States, who does fluoridate.

 

Other fluoride health concerns include its association with cancer, thyroid issues, and a reduction in IQ points, among other problems.

Osteosarcoma is associated with fluoridation.  There have been several studies on osteosarcoma and, although causation has not been established, clearly there is a link between this form of bone cancer and fluoridated water. Lab studies suggest fluoride is a mutagen, that is, it can cause genetic damage. Since genes are related closely to DNA, the relationship between fluoride and genetic damage implicates cancer.

Thyroid issues are another health problem that has been linked to fluoridated water. The thyroid gland regulates bodily functions such as breathing, temperature, and heart rate. Hypothyroidism is a disease in which thyroid gland function slows down or ceases to work altogether. Dr. Joseph Mercola explains the problem, “A key to a healthy thyroid is iodine, which is generally absorbed through the blood and stored and regulated by the body in the thyroid gland… But because fluoride is more electronegative than iodine, it displaces it in the body, disrupting thyroid function and subsequently impacting hormone levels that keep metabolism in check…”. As fluoride enters the system, it gets rid of any of the iodine in the thyroid, causing the thyroid to be overwhelmed with fluoride. When this happens, the thyroid slowly starts to be sluggish, which initially causes weight gain and depression while other symptoms ensue.

Other research shows that intelligence quotient (IQ) points dropped significantly in individuals that lived in areas that heavily fluoridate the water. A recent study released by Harvard University concluded, “…adverse effects of high fluoride concentrations in drinking water may be of concern…”  The paper focused on children up to 14 years of age, and said the average loss of IQ was about 7 points. It’s believed that fluoride is incapable of reaching the brain due to the human body’s defense against it, but obviously somehow the fluoride is able to reach the brain if IQ points are dropping. Studies have shown that aluminum can act as a bus for fluoride to transport it from the point of entry to the brain. This is possible because the body doesn’t try to stop aluminum from entering the brain since it’s not a threat; however, when fluoride is incased by aluminum it has easy access and does a lot of damage. This provides a clear and reasonable explanation for the loss in IQ points.

Fluoride is not a healthy substance to be adding to the water. It is not good for humans or other mammals. There is a growing body of evidence among scientific researchers which challenges the assertion that fluoride is good public health policy. The ill-informed decision makers who support water fluoridation are doing the public a disservice by wasting tax payer money on a harmful practice that, in fact, does not bear up under scrutiny.

 

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Works Cited
Chandler, Stephanie. “Common Uses of Sodium Fluoride.” Live Strong. Demand Media, 23 July 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
Chang, Pao L. “Fluorosilicic (Hydrofluorosilicic) Acid: The Silent Killer in Drinking Water.” Energy Fanatics. Energy Fanatics, 7 Sept. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
Choi, Anna L., Guifan Sun, Ying Zhang, and Philippe Grandjean. “Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Environmental Health Perspectives. NIH, Oct. 2012. Web. 5 May 2016.
Connett, Michael. “Tooth Decay Trends in Fluoridated vs. Unfluoridated Countries.” Fluoride Alert. Fluoride Action Network, July 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
Frieden, Tom. “Community Water Fluoridation.” CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 July 2015. Web. 3 May 2016.
Mercola,Joseph. “Water Fluoridation Promotes Thyroid Impairment, Study Warns.” Mercola. Alexa Natural Health, 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 5 May 2016.
Merriam, Sue. “Fluoride Water Filters.” Organic Gardening and Homesteading. SBI!, 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
Smith, Susan. Interview. Personal Interview. 2 May 2016.
“Sodium Fluoride MSDS.” Science Lab. Science Lab, 21 May 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
“Sodium Fluorosilicate Material Safety Data Sheet”. Solvay Fluorides. Solvay Chemicals Inc. 2003. Web. April 27, 2016
Walia, Arjun. “3 Great Reasons to Filter Fluoride out of Your Drinking Water.” Collective Evolution. A Bunch of Crisp Kids, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 3 May 2016.

 

What can you do?  Filter your water.

There are many good systems out there to filter your water.  Here are a few links to water filtration systems that are fairly affordable.

ProPure

Big Berkey

Alexapure

Seychelle

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