Fluoride toxicity is a real concern in our society. According to the National Institute of Dental And Craniofacial Research, a young dental school graduate named Frederick McKay began researching fluoride in 1901. After 30 years of trying to figure out why people in Colorado had “grotesque brown stains on their teeth,” he discovered that high levels of water-borne fluoride caused the discoloration of tooth enamel.
In 1931, Dr. H. Trendley Dean, head of the Dental Hygiene Unit at the National Institute of Health (NIH), wondered whether adding fluoride to drinking water at physically and cosmetically safe levels would help fight tooth decay. By 1945, Grand Rapids became the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water at “safe” levels.
“Almost 30 years after the conclusion of the Grand Rapids fluoridation study, fluoride continues to be dental science’s main weapon in the battle against tooth decay,” writes the National Institute of Dental And Craniofacial Research on their web page titled The Story Of Fluoride.
“Today, just about every toothpaste on the market contains fluoride as its active ingredient; water fluoridation projects currently benefit over 200 million Americans, and 13 million schoolchildren now participate in school-based fluoride mouth rinse programs.”
But wait a minute. What about the part of the story mentioning the mountain of scientific evidence on fluoride toxicity and its harmful effects on our health? If this is the case, why is it still added to a majority of municipal water sources?
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Fluoride Toxicity Faux Pas
Proponents were too quick to declare fluoride as the prime solution for tooth decay, says Catherine Carstairs, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario who wrote a 2015 paper in the American Journal of Public Health titled Debating Water Fluoridation Before Dr. Strangelove.
And while scientists at the US Public Health Service were reluctant to endorse water fluoridation in 1950, they were ultimately overwhelmed by pressure from the state dental directors, writes a recent article in The Guardian.
The list of harmful effects of fluoride and fluoride toxicity is extensive. It includes thyroid damage, dementia, bone fragility in adults, immune system disruption, collagen synthesis, and bone cancer, explains water expert Roy Speiser. Studies have also shown that high levels of fluoride promote skeletal fluorosis, aka bone destruction.
“In India for example, high naturally occurring fluoride content in drinking water is blamed for the fluorosis that has crippled around six million people,” reports The Guardian.
What Speiser has found the most “compelling” and “disturbing” in his research on the toxicity of fluoridation is that babies exposed to fluoridated water in-utero revealed grossly abnormal brain cells. Keep in mind that these mothers drank fluoridated water within “safe guidelines” as set by the EPA. This is the same water that we drink today.”
In a meta-analysis, researchers from The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and China Medical University in Shenyang combined 27 studies and found strong indications that fluoride toxicity may adversely affect cognitive development in children. Based on the findings, the authors stated that this risk should not be ignored, and that more research on fluoride’s impact on the developing brain was warranted.
According to a 2006 report by the National Research Council of the National Academies, fluoride is also “an endocrine disruptor in the broad sense of altering normal endocrine function.”
Fluoride joins lead, arsenic, methyl mercury, toluene, tetrachloroethylene, and other chemicals known to cause harm to brains, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
A landmark study by Dr. Phyllis Mullenix in 1995 showed that fluoride crosses the blood brain barrier. It affects behavior and lowers IQ. Scientists have also identified a possible link between fluoride and Alzheimer’s disease. In 1984, a Japanese doctor found a link between fluoride and uterine cancer.
Speiser notes that many other studies conducted over the years have shown a correlation between fluoride toxicity and other types of cancer including, but not limited to, osteosarcoma, respiratory cancers, and oral cancers.
Developmental neurotoxins such as fluoride are capable of causing widespread brain disorders such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, and other cognitive impairments. The harm is often untreatable and permanent, states Fluoride Alert.
“Used industrially in the manufacture of ceramics, pesticides and Teflon cookware, fluoride is generally an unwanted byproduct of the manufacture of aluminium, fertilizer and iron ore,” according to a recent article in The Guardian. Now Fluorosilicic acid, both poisonous and corrosive enough to etch glass, is being added to our drinking water. Unfortunately over 50 percent of municipal water in the U.S. is treated with this most toxic form of fluoride.
There is a lot of information on the web regarding different methods of eliminating fluoride from drinking water. The most common filtration methods use reverse osmosis filtration equipment, activated alumina, or brimac (bone char).
Each method of filtration has a varying capacity to reduce fluoride and fluride toxicity; however, there is little test data available to quantify the percentage of fluorosilicic acid removed to publicly supplied water. Levels range from 0.1 – 1.5 mg/l, with the latest maximum contaminant level set at 0.8 mg/l.
Water contamination is complex. Municipal water typically contains chlorine, chloramines, and their by-products, plus different heavy metals and industrial chemicals. Calcium carbonate, one of various hardening minerals found in municipal water, can interfere with the efficacy of various filters, explains Speiser, making the filtration process extremely challenging.
Activated Alumina is used to reduce both fluoride and arsenic. If arsenic is present in the water supply, activated alumina will preferentially reduce it. In hard water at a high pH with calcium carbonate present, the carbonate ions compete for binding sites.
Reverse Osmosis (R.O.), which uses a semi-permeable membrane, is known to reduce everything that is not good in source water. The membrane reduces heavy metals including fluoride and other special contaminants. All membranes, however, are not equal. If it is an NSF listed unit, the rating should be greater than 90 percent removal of fluoride. However, there appears to be limited test data on membranes removing fluorosilicic acid. Other factors that compromise filtration systems are hard water that can clog a membrane and carbon pre-filters that are not rated for the types of industrial chemicals commonly found in municipal water.
Meanwhile R.O. units do not have sufficient pre-filtration with carbon to remove chloramines and higher levels of chlorine by-products. So you really need a large filtration tank on the main pipe to make it effective.
Bone char or hydroxylapatite has been shown to reduce fluoride, heavy metals, and low levels of radioactivity. If used in sufficient quantities with proper pre-filtration for chlorine, it is an effective filter media for fluoride. “It is relatively inexpensive; however, its availability in the future is in question, and the price is going to increase substantially by the end of 2014,” says Speiser.
MetalGonTM is a new filter media from CWR. They’ve tested the reduction of fluorosilicic acid in several different laboratories, including the Water Quality Association. WQA labs shows that MetalGon reduces fluorosilicic acid up to 85 percent or greater.
CWR Environmental has trademarked our fluoride-heavy metal-removing filtration systems. They have tested and combined the best pre-filtration media to reduce the maximum amount of competing contaminants. Before designing a total home filtration system, they review your local Water Quality Report or supply independent testing kits to determine the contaminants present in the source water. Then they select the best filtration technologies to achieve greater than 95 percent reduction of fluorosilicic acid plus 95 percent chloramines, chemicals and heavy metals so that all showers, baths and sinks are almost contaminant-free.
Other countries such as Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands have stopped fluoridating their water supplies. The ingestion of fluoride should be an individual choice.