How many children in New Zealand have dental fluorosis?
What is a safe level of fluoride in drinking water?
There is no quick answer to this.
Firstly, you need to understand the difference between the level in drinking water (concentration) and dose – the total daily intake. It is the latter that is relevant to safety. The “authorities” still do not grasp this essential point.
When fluoridation began in the 1940s, the daily intake was 0 to 0.5 mg/day.
Trendley Dean and others considered 1 mg/day to be a balance between dental protection and increased dental fluorosis (fluoride poisoning). Dean actually considered this too high (he found dental fluorosis at much lower levels) and was opposed to fluoridation, even though he was persuaded to go along with it and became known as \’the father of fluoridation”.
In temperate climates (like NZ) people typically drank 1 litre of water a day. At 1 mg/l (or 1ppm) this added 1 mg/day to intake, for a maximum of 1.5 mg/day from all sources. In hotter climates eg Queensland Australia the level was set at 0.6 ppm. In cold climates it was set at 1.2 – 1.5 ppm.
Is my town fluoridated?
The following link has a list of all towns and cities in New Zealand that are fluoridated. If your town is not on the list, then it is not fluoridated. See also fluoridation status by council and what are they fluoridating with?
NZ Army Camps that are fluoridated:
- Burnham Army Camp, Christchurch
- Linton Army Camp, Palmerston North, Manawatu
- Trentham Military Camp, Upper Hutt, Wellington
- Papakura Military Camp, Auckland
NZ Army Camps that are not fluoridated:
- Waiouru Army Camp, Waiouru, Central North Island
NZ Prisons fluoridated (No alternative is provided to inmates)
Mt Eden Corrections Facility
Auckland Region Women’s Correction Facility
Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison
Otago Corrections Facility
To take peanuts as an example, some individuals go into anophylactic shock with the merest trace of peanut intake. Personally I (the author) can tolerate a taste or two of peanut satay, but a meal of it would make me vomit. For most people, there probably is no upper limit (unlike fluoride).
Similarly, some people are allergic to fluoride and have medical certificates to that effect. There was a young girl in Wellington who was so allergic she had to have her water DOUBLE distilled, as the first distillation still had traces of fluoride in it (comes over as HF).
Once the ambient intake of fluoride is known, however, the level in water roughly equates to a known additional fluoride burden.
The National Research Council\’s 2006 report identified adverse effects at levels as low as 0.1 ppm in the water, especially for children with iodine deficiency. Interestingly, 0.1 ppm was the proposed upper limit for drinking water in the USA in the 1930s/40s before vested interests decided to get it in the public water supply to avoid litigation (see “The Fluoride Deception” by Chris Bryson). The NRC concluded that they could find no lower limit of fluoride intake that was protective of health, hence could not recommend a safe level for drinking water.
In NZ, the Public Health Commission in 1995 identified that ambient fluoride intake had increased, that people were being overdosed by the additional fluoride burden of 1ppm in the water, and recommended lowering to 0.7 ppm. The NZMA and NZDA continued to quote the “magic number” of 1ppm until recently, and refused to address this inconsistency. The Ministry of Health, since I made that enquiry, slowly acknowledged a “range” of 0.7 to 1 ppm, with a target of 0.8 ppm.
If it were not for the increase in ambient exposure, it seems generally agreed that normal healthy people can tolerate 0.3ppm (or roughly 0.3 mg/day). This seems the upper limit for those with impaired kidney function (leaving aside the ever-increasing ambient exposure).
Most NZ water is naturally 0.1 ppm or less, which is not going to add a significant fluoride burden to ambient exposure. Some places are up to 0.3 ppm.
What fluoride chemical is used to fluoridate and where is the fluoride sourced from?
The main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are known as “silicofluorides” (i.e., hydrofluorosilicic acid, Sodium Fluorosilicate, and Sodium Fluoride). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride products; they are unprocessed industrial by-products of the phosphate fertiliser industry (Page3 Water New Zealand Good Practice Guide: Point 1.5.1 ). Since these silicofluorides undergo no purification procedures, they can contain elevated levels of arsenic — more so than any other water treatment chemical. In addition, recent research suggests that the addition of silicofluorides to water is a risk factor for elevated lead exposure, particularly among residents who live in homes with old pipes.
How many Tonne of fluoride chemical is used to fluoridate each town/city that is fluoridated?
Auckland City Fluoride Solution 2010/11 – 769 Tonne, 2011/12 – 728 Tonne, 2012/13 – 673 Tonne. (Watercare GRI Report page 17)
Is it legal to dump Hydrofluorosilicic Acid in the Land, the Sea or the Rivers
No it is illegal to dump Hydrofluorosilicic Acid in the Land, the Sea or the Rivers.
Hydrofluorosilicic Acid is very expensive to dispose of. It is estimated to cost several thousand dollars to dispose of one tonne. When the New Plymouth Council decided to end fluoridation they said “the fluoride could not be returned to the supplier and letting it run out was the cheapest way of disposing of the chemical.” Read the article here.
Does the MOH endorse swallowing fluoride tablets?
The Ministry of Health do not endorse swallowing fluoride tablets. See the link to the article with Ministry of Health chief dental officer Robyn Haisman-Welsh advice on fluoride tablets.
“Fluoride tablets are not recommended as a population health measure in New Zealand because of the risk of fluorosis in children.
\’They are not recommended for children under the age of three or for pregnant women, and there are few studies showing effectiveness of fluoride tablets in adults.\’\’ – Dr Robyn Haisman-Welsh
Recently the lawyer for the Ministry of Health conceded that a litre of tap water fluoridated at 1ppm delivered the same dose as dissolving 1mg of fluoride tablets in a litre of water.
What percentage of fluoridated water goes down the drain?
Why are fluoride chemicals added to the shared water supply?
What makes fluoride different from other water treatment chemicals?
All water treatment chemicals, with the exception of fluoride, are added to make drinking water safe and pleasant to consume. Fluoride is the only chemical added to treat people who consume the water, rather than the water itself. Fluoridating water supplies can thus fairly be described as a form of mass medication, which is why most European countries have rejected the practice. It is unethical.
Do we need fluoride?
No. It is now well established that fluoride is not an essential nutrient. This means that no human disease – including tooth decay – will result from a “deficiency” of fluoride. Fluoridating water supplies is therefore different than adding iodine to salt. Unlike fluoride, iodine is an essential nutrient (the body needs iodine to ensure the proper functioning of the thyroid gland). No such necessity exists for fluoride.
What countries fluoridate their water?
Only three countries in the world have government/federal mandated fluoridation: Ireland, Singapore and Israel. As at January 2017 Israel does not have any fluoridation despite Government mandate.
Only eight countries in the world have more than 50% of the population on fluoridated water: USA (70%), Australia (90%), Ireland (70%), Singapore (100%), Chile (70%), Brunei (95%), New Zealand (52%), Malaysia (66%)
98% of Europe is not fluoridated.
Only 10% of the UK is fluoridated: Birmingham , Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Consett, North Shields, Wallsend, Whitley Bay, Hexham, Alnwick, Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport, Crewe, Nantwich, Alsager, Scunthorpe, Lincoln, Grantham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Rugby, Bromsgrove, Redditch, Droitwich, Evesham, Mansfield, Worksop, Retford, Bolsover, Burton on Trent, Lichfield, Tamworth, Rugeley, Cannock and Bridgnorth.
Does fluoride occur naturally in the water?
As a general rule, the only fresh water with high levels of fluoride (other than waters polluted by fluoride-emitting industries) is water derived from deep wells. Rather than being something to celebrate, high levels of naturally occurring fluorides have wreaked havoc on tens of millions of people’s health around the world. People consuming water with naturally high levels of fluoride have been found to suffer serious health ailments including disfiguring tooth damage, bone disease, ulcers, reduced IQ, thyroid disease, and infertility. Because of this, international organizations like UNICEF assist developing nations in finding ways of removing fluoride from the water.
Thankfully, most fresh water supplies contain very low levels of fluoride. The average level of fluoride in unpolluted fresh water is less than 0.1 ppm, which is about 10 times less than the levels added to water in fluoridation programs (0.7 to 1.2 ppm). The frequent claim, therefore, that “nature thought of fluoridation first” does not withstand scrutiny.
Does fluoridated water reduce dental decay?
There is little evidence that fluoridated water reduces dental decay. The Ministry of Health have been claiming the fluoridation reduces dental decay by 40%. Under the Official Information Act, the MOH admitted that they got this figure from the 2009 Oral Health Survey.
However, within the publication itself it states:
“It is important to note that it was not one of the objectives of the 2009 NZOHS to compare the oral health status of people by fluoridation status, and therefore the survey cannot be taken as a fluoridation study. The following results are a snapshot in time and constitute an ecological analysis based on current place of residence. As such they do not take into account lifetime exposure to fluoridated and non-fluoridated water supplies. Individuals who currently live in fluoridated areas may have spent time in non-fluoridated areas, and the reverse is also true. Furthermore, there may be other confounding factors that haven’t been taken into account.” Read more about the 2009 Oral Health survey here.
For more analysis on the New Zealand Dental studies click here.
Does fluoride need to be swallowed in order to prevent tooth decay?
NO. Although fluoridation of water was initially approved on the premise that swallowing fluoride is the most effective way to strengthen teeth, most dental researchers now concede that fluoride’s primary benefit comes from direct topical contact with the teeth, not from ingestion. There is no need to swallow fluoride to prevent tooth decay, whether in water or tablet form.
It is hard to overstate the importance of this point to the fluoride debate, particularly when considering that fluoride risk\’s come primarily from ingestion.
What are the risks from swallowing fluoride?
Fluoride has long been known to be a very toxic substance. This is why, like arsenic, fluoride has been used in pesticides and rodenticides (to kill rats, insects, etc). It is also why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all fluoride toothpaste sold in the U.S. carry a poison warning that instructs users to contact the poison control center if they swallow more than used for brushing.
Excessive fluoride exposure is well known to cause a painful bone disease (skeletal fluorosis), as well as a discoloration of the teeth known as dental fluorosis. Excessive fluoride exposure has also been linked to a range of other chronic ailments including arthritis, bone fragility, dental fluorosis, glucose intolerance, gastrointestinal distress, thyroid disease, and possibly cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
While the lowest doses that cause some of these effects are not yet well defined, it is clear that certain subsets of the population are particularly vulnerable to fluoride’s toxicity. Populations that have heightened susceptibility to fluoride include infants, individuals with kidney disease, individuals with nutrient deficiencies (particularly calcium and iodine), and individuals with medical conditions that cause excessive thirst.
How do I avoid fluoride from my tap water?
If you live in a community that fluoridates its water supply, there are several options to avoid drinking the fluoride that is added. Unfortunately, each of these options will cost money (unless you happen to have access to a free source of spring water). The options include:
Spring water: Most spring water contains very low levels of fluoride (generally less than 0.1 ppm). To see the fluoride levels in popular brands in New Zealand click here.
Water filtration: Many water filters use an “activated carbon” filter that does not remove fluoride. Water filters that do remove fluoride include reverse osmosis, deionizers that use ion-exchange resin, and activated alumina.
Water Distillation: Distilling water is an effective way of removing fluoride from water. Whereas a water filter is installed directly into the sink, a distillation unit is a separate device that can be stored on your countertop.
What can I do to minimise the fluoride exposure for myself and my family?
My child has dental fluorosis, what can I do to fix it?
If our water does not contain fluoride, should we give our child fluoride supplements?
Fluoride supplements were developed on the incorrect assumptions that fluoride is a nutrient and is effective when swallowed. Modern research has found that fluoride supplements greatly increase the risk of dental fluorosis. The use of fluoride products should be a personal decision made in consultation with your dentist.
Why does 97% of Western Europe not fluoridate?
An overwhelming majority of Western Europe does not fluoridate their water supply. The reasons for this vary and are enlightening, see the link here
Western European Countries tooth decay rates have declined in line with other countries of the world calling into question the assertion that fluoridation has been a major reason for the decline in tooth decay.
Was fluoride used by the Nazis and the Russians to make prisoners submissive?
Overall, the claims regarding this use of fluoride and fluoridation must be put in the “not proven” category; it remains speculative, as the claims cannot be documented, yet relate to scientifically demonstrated effects of higher doses of fluoride. The claim has no place in a scientific debate on fluoridation.
The only basis for this claim in relation to Nazi Germany is a letter by Charles Eliot Perkins, a researcher in chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and pathology. He claimed to be one of the scientists put in charge of the I G Farben industries shortly after WW2. I G Farben supplied the Nazis with war chemicals, munitions, etc. Perkins was supposedly informed that the German General Staff adopted the plan of using sodium fluoride to make prisoners-of-war more docile and easier to manipulate and control. There is no surviving evidence to suggest the Germans actually did this. It was also claimed that fluoride would reduce fertility, assisting population control as part of the eugenics programme begun in 1910 (by the Americans, but involving German scientists).
Dr Paul Connett, of Fluoride Action Network, confirms following a personal search to resolve this question that there is no documentary evidence of Perkins’ claims.
It is a fact that fluoride is a neurotoxin, and also that at sufficient doses reduces fertility. However, at this point there is no research to determine whether fluoride at the doses related to fluoridation of drinking water, would have the effects claimed by Perkins.
Perkins also claimed that the idea was taken up by the Russians, and fluoride was used in the Russian prison camps for tranquilisation of prisoners.
Use in Russian camps
This claim is also included in a statement by Oliver Kenneth Goff:
“I, Oliver Kenneth Goff, was a member of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League, from May 2, 1936, to October 9, 1939. My testimony before the Government is in Volume 9 of the Un-American Activities Report for 1939.
While a member of the Communist Party, I attended Communist training schools in New York and Wisconsin … and we were trained in the revolutionary overthrow of the U.S. Government. … We discussed quite thoroughly the fluoridation of water supplies and how we were using it in Russia as a tranquilizer in the prison camps. The leaders of our school felt that if it could be induced into the American water supply, it would bring about a spirit of lethargy in the nation, where it could keep the general public docile during a steady encroachment of Communism. “
There is also the statement of Major George Racey Jordan who was in charge of the shipment of sodium fluoride to Russia from Great Falls, Montana, via Alaska. He queried the shipment of considerable amounts of sodium fluoride to Russia and was told “frankly” that it was put into the drinking water in the prisoner-of-war camps to take away their will to resist.
Again, none of this appears to be corroborated.
Are fluoridating agents the waste products from the fertiliser industry, or manufactured specifically for fluoridation, to high quality standards?
Silicofluorides are not manufactured specifically for fluoridation. Hydrofluorosilicic Acid (HFA) is produced as a toxic waste in the wet scrubbing system located before the effluent stacks of the superphosphate industry, to prevent the very toxic gases (hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride) escaping into the air, which is illegal. The liquor is allowed to settle so that any suspended solids fall to the bottom, and the clear liquid is sold as such for use in fluoridation. It is not made to “exacting standards of purity”. There are three relevant standards:
- Pharmaceutical grade, used in fluoride tablets (fluoridating agents do not meet this standard)
- Food grade (there is no food grade specification, as it is illegal to add fluoride to food)
- Water treatment grade, specified in NZ by the Water and Wastes Assn. – a non-governmental body.
Water treatment grade is not a Governmental or scientific standard. This allows significant levels of toxic heavy metals to be present:
The only manufacturing process relates to Sodium Silicofluoride, where the still-contaminated HFA is mixed with caustic soda to produce the solid salt, used in dry-feeder type fluoridation plants.
The silicofluoride waste cannot be dumped directly in waterways, sea, or on land.
Is Fluoridation medication? Is it just like supplementing diet with iodine or iron?
Fluoride is not the same as iodine or vitamins. These are essential dietary elements, with a minimum required daily intake (RDI), below which clinical disease symptoms appear (e.g. goitre in the case of iodine). Fluoride is not a nutrient or essential mineral. There is no RDI for fluoride. No disease symptoms appear if fluoride is completely eliminated from the diet.
The NZ Medicines Act 1981 (sections 3(1)(a) and 4(a)) defines a medicine as follows:
“medicine means any substance … sold, or supplied wholly or principally – for administering to one or more human beings for a therapeutic purpose”
“Therapeutic purpose means – Treating or preventing disease”
The Ministry states that dental caries is a disease. Fluoridation is the supply of a substance (fluoride) to persons (entire communities) for the prevention of disease (dental caries). It is therefore medicine under the Medicines Act.
Is there a difference between "natural" fluoride and "artificial" fluoride? Is the fluoride ion the same?
Fluoride occurs naturally in a number of forms. In drinking water it is usually Calcium Fluoride.
The term “artificial fluorides” refers to the substances used in water fluoridation. These are silicofluorides, apart from a very few remaining plants using Sodium Fluoride. However Sodium Fluoride has been reclassified due to its use in weapons manufacture, and it no longer generally available.
Silicofluorides do not occur in nature.
The following table compares some properties of the relevant fluorides:
|Property||HFA||Sodium silicofluoride||Calcium fluoride|
|Classification||Schedule 7 (dangerous poison)||Schedule 6 (poison)||Non-toxic|
|HazChem Class||6 (acutely toxic ) & 8 (corrosive)||6 (acutely toxic) & 9 (ecotoxic to vertebrates)||None (non toxic)|
|LD50||30 gm (4 tablespoons)||4.9 – 8.75 gm (approx 2 – 4 teaspoons)||298 gm (about three cups, the same as table salt)|
Note: LD50 is the single dose that kills 50% of those taking it. The figure is based on rat and mice studies, for a 70 kg adult. No one has deliberately given lethal doses to humans.
Note that it makes no difference if the substance is dilute or concentrated.
What is the Fluoride Ion?
When a substance is dissolved in water it largely breaks up into positively and negatively charged ions. However it can remain in a molecular form and still dissolve to some extent because of the bipolar charge on water molecules. But the more the substance breaks up into ions the better it dissolves.
The balance between the original molecular form of a substance and its ionic form in water is called the “dissociation constant”.
Calcium Fluoride does not break up into ions very well, so it does not dissolve very well. But at 1ppm most if not all of the dissolved Calcium Fluoride has split up into Calcium ions and Fluoride ions. Silicofluorides are much more soluble than Calcium Fluoride, and ionise in a 2-stage process. However they do not completely break down into Fluoride ions. This was shown by Crosby in 1969. The dissociation was between 87% and 95%. Crosby is constantly misquoted as proving the dissociation was 100%, which is incorrect.
More importantly, all components remain available for chemical reaction, so whether the substance has fully ionised or not is in this respect irrelevant.
Further, when silicofluorides are put in acidic conditions, such as stomach acid, they tend to return to the molecular form (the dissociation constant shifts). According to WHO (2006) 50% of fluoride in the stomach is absorbed as molecular hydrofluoric acid, the most corrosive acid known, and which can attack DNA (i.e. is mutagenic/carcinogenic)
Research has shown that silicofluorides have some different biological effects on humans than either calcium fluoride or sodium fluoride. This relates to inhibition of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase(1), and the absorption of lead.(2)
1. “The Kinetics of Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition and the Influence of Fluoride and Fluoride Complexes on the Permeability of Erythrocyte Membranes”
Dissertation to receive Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Hamburg
By Johannes Westendorf Hamburg, Germany – 1975
2(a).Sawan et al “Fluoride increases lead concentrations in whole blood and in calcified tissues from lead-exposed rats” doi:10.1016/j.tox.2010.02.002
(b) Maas RP, Patch SC, Christian AM, Coplan MJ. “Effects of fluoridation and disinfection agent combinations on lead leaching from leaded-brass parts” Neurotoxicology 2007 28(5):1023-31.
(c) Masters R; Coplan “M Water treatment with silicofluorides and lead toxicity” International Journal of Environmental Studies Volume 56, Issue 4, 1999, Pages 435 – 449
Isn't Water fluoridation is one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th Century?
What were the findings of the UK Government's York Review?
The York Review was a thorough systematic review of all population studies available. It was not allowed to look at laboratory studies, or at individual medical case histories.
A systematic review examines the methodology of research to determine the reliability. It then assesses the weight of evidence, and the reliability of that evidence, in relation to claims, in this case about safety and effectiveness.
It found that research was, overall, of poor to moderate quality. It rejected over 90% of studies as being too poor to consider further.
On the question of reducing tooth decay, it found a large variation in results, from the remaining 30 studies, all of poor to moderate quality – from 5% more tooth decay, many studies showing no difference, to a 64% benefit. The numeric median was 14.6% more caries-free children in the fluoridated area. But this cannot be legitimately claimed as a proven benefit. The report said:
“The quality … is in general only low to moderate, and should be interpreted with caution, especially considering the significant heterogeneity between studies.”
This statement by the Chair of the advisory panel, Dr Trevor Sheldon, sums up the true findings of the York Review – that until better quality studies are available there will continue to be legitimate scientific controversy over water fluoridation.
By its very design, the York Review could never have determined safety of fluoridation – it was unable to examine a large portion of the evidence of adverse health effects. This issue was address six years later, by the US National Research Council Review.
How is the US National Research Council Review relevant to fluoridation?
This is incorrect. First remember that risk is related to daily total intake (dose), NOT the concentration in the water supply. The Review\’s task was to assess the existing maximum allowable level of fluoride in the US, of 4ppm. However, some of the research reviewed showed harmful effects at the daily dose experienced by some people in communities fluoridated at around 1ppm. This was especially true of sub-groups of the population with high water intake. One of the panel members, environmental risk expert Dr Kathleen Theissen, has subsequently made it clear that the Review was relevant to fluoridation.
Didn't the Privy Council hold in 1965 that fluoridation was not medication?
This is incorrect. First, the Privy Council ruled on the Lewis case in 1964, not 1965.
The Privy Council ruled that:
- The reference to “pure” water was to be interpreted as “wholesome” since chemically pure water did not exist;
- The council’s power to treat the water was not limited to making the water more “wholesome” as water but extended to making the water more beneficial to the health of consumers, including adding medication to the water, provided the water does not become “impure” thereby.
The first point became obsolete in 2002, as the 2002 Local Government Act does not use the word “pure”. Based on the Privy Council ruling, the new wording is more restrictive, in that it does not allow for additions to be made to the water to make it more “wholesome” in addition to making it safe to drink.
The second point is not a binding ruling, as it relates to a question of fact. The Privy Council\’s rulings are only binding on points of law. Any court can find that fluoridation is a health risk, and ban it on the basis.
The passage quoted in support of the claim is this:
“The addition of fluoride adds no impurity and the water remains not only water but pure water and it becomes greatly improved and still natural water containing no foreign elements.”
However, this passage does not preclude fluoridation from being medication. Those who (mis)use this quote ignore the more relevant passages from the ruling. The Privy Council held that:
“The fluoridation plant is for the purpose of the supply of what might be termed \’medicated pure water\’ “
(confirming the NZ High Court statement by McGregor J), and then:
“Their Lordships think it an unnecessarily restrictive construction to hold (as did McGregor J.) that, because the supply of water was already pure there is no power to add to it constituents merely to provide medicated pure water, i.e. water to which an addition is made solely for the health of the consumers.”