Fluoride is now everywhere, but that was not always so. Until the Industrial Revolution, most fluoride-bearing minerals were buried deep in the earth’s crust. Humankind has mined them intensively since then for use as fuel, agricultural fertilizer, and essential ingredients in making steel, aluminium and ceramics. However in none of these is the fluoride important: it emerges as a dangerous, penetrating and very soluble waste product. Its toxicity is comparable to lead and arsenic. The Biolab Laboratory Director, Dr John Mclaren Howard, considers it the second most toxic pollutant, after thallium.
No modern industry likes products it cannot sell and great efforts were made from the 1930s to explore safe uses of fluorides. They consequently turn up in rat poison, insecticide, wood preservative, aerosol propellant, refrigerator fluid, medicines, anaesthetics and plastics — and more recently in toothpaste. But these do not, even now, use up nearly enough to keep pace with the industries that produce it. Leakages of waste fluoride effluent from factories into rivers and water supplies were by 1938 causing serious environmental problems in America. Since then the Clean Air legislation has intensified the problem by requiring that smoke emission are scrubbed clean of fluorides and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur, which adds these scrubbings to the list requiring to be disposed of otherwise.
Meanwhile in 1931 it was shown that as little as one part per million (ppm) of fluoride in water could cause unsightly mottling of teeth, and by 1935 Dr H.T. Dean, a senior U.S. dental official, was recommending that all fluoride be removed from drinking water.
Dean then noticed that at very low levels fluoride appeared to delay tooth decay(1). The sugar industry took this up through a research chemist they supported financially(2). It was this chemist who first had the idea of solving two problems at one stroke. Why not fluoridate reservoirs deliberately to the highest permissible level? This would dispose of all the fluoride available as safely as possible — it could even be sold to water authorities as a public health benefit!
The aluminium industry put its public relations resources behind this idea, and in no time public health was rewritten. By 1940 fluoride was declared essential to human health, its reputation as a toxin being overturned or masked at every opportunity. Every textbook of nutrition was revised to include fluoride on the list of essential nutrients — but without quoting any justification, since there is none. Every country with a fluoride-producing industry was busy selling it to public health authorities, while many other countries with less at stake were banning it by law as unsafe!
No proper toxicity studies were ever done and no controls were ever exercised, despite a huge body of scientific research across the world suggesting dangers from fluoride for human health(3). No public health laboratory in Britain will test for fluoride poisoning even now, although it is technically easy and inexpensive. Few doctors or dentists know the signs of fluoride poisoning, and no-one is encouraging them to learn. How widely fluoride consumption varies according to people’s drinking habits is unknown: it has never been studied officially.
According to the received wisdom on fluoride toxicity, 10-20mg fluoride consumed daily is enough to cripple some people with its effects on bones within 10-20 years. If this is so, 5-10% of this population is at risk after about 20 years, and larger numbers (consuming 5-10mg/day, say) after perhaps 40 years of consumption - surely not acceptable. We may be heading for an epidemic of bone disease (and other possible effects) within about ten years from now (1998) — much worse in fluoridated areas but not confined there.
Dr Dean, whose dental findings in the 1930s had started the fluoridation campaign, admitted 17 years later that they were based on sub-standard surveys and could not support the conclusions that had been based on them. Nobody in authority seems to have noticed. As recently as 1996 Gerry Malone at the UK Department of Health was still citing these sub-standard surveys and excusing their quality by saying their results were overwhelmingly positive. The results of more sophisticated analyses of the same data, by modern methods, is overwhelmingly negative.
We now have good evidence that child hyperactivity and attention deficit may relate to fluoride exposure, that hip fracture is increased in artificially fluoridated water areas, and that non-ulcer dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome are connected to fluoride consumption.
Photomicrographs of the dramatic differences caused in the stomach lining by exposure to fluoride are shown below, kindly provided by Professor A.K.Susheela at the Fluoride Research and Rural Development Foundation in New Delhi.
The first picture shows normal healthy stomach lining cells with a full carpet of microvillae - the tiny projections that extend the surface of the cell and determine the power of its functions. The lighter globules (shown by the arrow) are mucus, present in normal amounts.
Photo of normal stomach lining cells
The second shows the lining in a 45-year old man with ulcer-type stomach pain but no ulcer. He was drinking water naturally fluoridated at 1.2 parts per million, similar to Hartlepool or Colchester. The microvillae have been severely damaged, reducing the mucus production. Health was restored two weeks after avoiding fluoride water.
Photo of damaged stomach lining cells
The last shows the more drastic effect of using a fluoride mouth-rinse at 900 parts per million. This was a nurse, who knew not to swallow the washings. The microvillae have been stripped right off, leaving the naked cells with many deep fissures like cracked clay. There is no mucus, and small bleeding points (not easily seen) had made her anaemic. She recovered fully three weeks after she stopped using the mouth-rinse.
The effects of fluoridated mouthwash on stomach lining cells
What to do
1. Read Dental Health and Teeth & Gums for our advice on dental care.
2. Fluoride treatment delays the eruption of your first teeth so that part of its apparent benefit is to delay their exposure to decay. The best reduction in tooth decay recorded in any dental surveys is 50%, only half as good as diet can achieve. Fluoride does nothing for your gums and may, as we have seen above, actually poison the rest of your body chemistry.
3. You get fluoride inevitably from the air, farm produce, tea and processed foods, and fluoridated toothpaste as well as water. Dentists seldom take this into account when recommending that you take fluoride tablets as well. If you must, it is safer to accept only surface treatment of your teeth with fluoride applications rather than anything you have to swallow.
4. Fluoridated toothpaste should NOT be swallowed — it is intended only as a mouth-wash and has far more than even the recommended fluoride dose. Even in the mouth, a substantial amount of fluoride can be absorbed through the skin and gums into your bloodstream. Toddlers and small children often swallow tooth-washings and occasionally show toxic effects from this. Do not let small children use fluoridated toothpaste.
5. It may be that the only safe way to dispose of industrial fluoride waste at present is through the water supply, but it is dishonest to excuse this as a public health benefit. Logically the users of aluminium, steel and fertilizer should pay for this, not the public. Calcium fluoride should be added in that case, to no more than 0.3ppm anywhere in the water catchment area. A major, urgent research effort should go meanwhile into developing ways of sealing fluorides away safely before solid disposal in deep mines: incorporation into glass is one possibility.
6. It is possible to remove almost all the fluoride (along with the other pollutants and hardness salts) from a drinking water supply by installing a reverse osmosis unit in your home, and this is no longer as expensive as it used to be. replete can arrange to supply, for self-installation, a domestic unit suitable for most supplies at a cost to members of around £220 including VAT - (Go to Pozzani product info).
7. The rational way to cut down on fluoride is to use aluminium, steel and fertilizer very sparingly, and to recycle what we already have.
  1. Dean H.T. Endemic Fluorosis and ... Dental Caries, Public Health Reports 1938 53:1443
  2. Cox G.J. Studied dental caries on a Sugar Institute grant from 1933-40, also working for an aluminium company from 1939. His ideas published in Journal of American Dental Assoc. April 1950.
  3. Waldbott G.L. Fluoridation, The Great Dilemma Coronade Press, Lawrence (Kansas) 1978.
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