The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?  (Read 17561 times)

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« on: 10/08/2011 18:11:00 »
Hello Naked Scientists,

My wife has recently become concerned about fluoride in drinking water here in the United States.  She is concerned about the long term effects of fluoride that  accumulates in our bodies since fluoride is a poison.  She also thinks that fluoride may have contributed to her thyroid problems since it replaces iodine.

Is there any solid science to show that fluoride in drinking water is dangerous to our health?  There is a lot of information on both sides of the debate on the Internet, but I don't know who else to trust other then the Naked Scientists.

Love the show and keep up the good work,

Erik
Atlanta, Georgia
Asked by Erik Turner


                                        Visit the webpage for the podcast in which this question is answered.

 ...or Listen to the Answer or [download as MP3]

« Last Edit: 10/08/2011 18:11:00 by _system »


 

Offline Bill.D.Katt.

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 179
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #1 on: 02/06/2011 05:23:52 »
My first inclination is to say that fluoride would have a negligible effect on the thyroid because fluoride and iodine are fairly different (despite both being halogens). I would also assume that it would pass right through the body due to the high solubility of many ionic halogen compounds.

I researched it on a couple of University library websites, and found that there are numerous articles addressing this topic. A couple that might help are: "Fluorine and thyroid gland function: a review of the literature," "Effects of fluoride in drinking water on health of deciduous teeth" (you can google these titles and get at them free), there is also a book entitled "Fluoride in drinking-water" that might help (I have not read it). If someone with some more expertise could comment that would be great, I feel like I'm grasping at straws here.
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8670
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #2 on: 02/06/2011 07:19:58 »
If fluoride interfered with iodide in the thyroid then chloride would do so to a much greater extent. It doesn't so fluoride can't.
They add fluoride to water because it slows tooth decay.
High levels of fluoride in water are toxic, but nobody adds that much.
The first symptom of chronic fluoride exposure is mottled teeth. If you don't see that effect in the local kids then you are safe (even if you do see it then you are probably OK).
Very high levels of fluoride are acutely toxic, but that's very rarely seen.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1451
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #3 on: 02/06/2011 08:51:37 »
Fluoride only accumulates in bones, which I believe is the point.
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #4 on: 09/06/2011 04:42:06 »
Fluoride only accumulates in bones, which I believe is the point.
Fluoride makes dense, but WEAK bone.  So, it is not a good treatment for osteoporosis. 

I believe studies indicate that children with fluoridated water have better teeth.  I believe some cities have been using fluoride for 50 years or so, so one should be able to get real data about the teeth in people who are in their middle ages, and perhaps even bone strength.

Here is a study about bones.
http://presse.anti-cancer.fr/articles-eau/41.%20LI.pdf

It seems to indicate the lowest rate of bone fractures with a concentration of Fluoride at about 1ppm.  More fractures with lower concentrations of fluoride, as well as with higher concentrations of fluoride.  However, the study also has some very large error bars.

I'm having troubles finding data on tooth decay.
Here is a chart that seems to show no significant difference in tooth decay in 12 yr olds living in countries with fluoridated water compared to those that live in countries without fluoridated water.

http://www.fluoridealert.org/health/teeth/caries/who-dmft.html

In fact, if a community showed improvements from 1970 to 2000 with an uncontrolled study, then those improvements were likely independent of the fluoridation program.

I'm seeing other articles with people expressing major concerns about the safety of the fluoridation. 

What I'd really like is not to see tooth data in 12 yr olds, but rather seeing tooth data on 40 to 70 yr olds.
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8670
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #5 on: 09/06/2011 06:59:02 »
The real data was around before they started adding fluoride to drink it came from areas where there is natural fluoride in the water.
That data is the reason they started adding it to water.
 

Lydia Jane Cypher

  • Guest
None
« Reply #6 on: 14/08/2011 19:42:43 »
Hello Naked Scientists, my friend posted a comment on facebook about thyroid function, particularly in women, being negatively affected by fluoride.  She cited the following book.  Please comment:

http://www.amazon.com/Fluoride-Deception-Christopher-Bryson/dp/product-description/1583225269/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books
 

Creed

  • Guest
None
« Reply #7 on: 13/03/2013 17:11:25 »
The toxicity of fluoride is well documented and if you were to read the research coming out of Europe where flouring is banned in a high number of countries you would see the horrible truth.

First the fluoride is water is not the same fluoride we find in nature.  The product added to our water is a waste product from pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing.

Second fluoride is a highly persistent chemical which is difficult to very difficult to remove from the body.  Just as you claim that it bonds to teeth and bones it also bonds very well to our cells forming cocoons around each cell.  This cocoon blocks the nutrients from reaching the cell and it dies.  The fluoride then moves to the next cell.  Simply put, the body is starved to death over a long period of time.

Ask yourself while infant toothpaste does not contain fluoride.  Ask your self how a small animal will die from ingestion of a tube of tooth paste.

Take it out of our water as it's so over used.  Its in our water, tap and bottles, its in all soda and bear.  Its in out fruits and vegetables and the animal products we eat.  When do we realize this is so very wrong!
 

Offline frenchconnection

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #8 on: 30/06/2014 04:31:31 »
Is this even a serious question?   In 1945, "Program F" was implemented by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). This is the most extensive U.S. study of the health effects of fluoride, which was the key chemical component in ATOMIC BOMB PRODUCTION. One of the most toxic chemicals known to man, fluoride, it is found, causes marked adverse effects to the central nervous system but much of the information is squelched in the name of national security because of fear that lawsuits would undermine full-scale production of atomic bombs. 

They knew this in the 1940's and the big push began to put fluoride in drinking water nationwide in the '50's.  I wonder why.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4727
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #9 on: 30/06/2014 07:50:36 »

They knew this in the 1940's and the big push began to put fluoride in drinking water nationwide in the '50's.  I wonder why.


Because it was found that people living in areas with detectable natural fluoride levels in drinking water, had significantly less tooth decay than others, and no contraindications. The effect on dental health in the UK has been remarkable, and despite all the scaremongering, we live longer than ever before - with less tooth decay!

But who cares about the facts? Science is boring. Let's tell each other scary fairy stories about government conspiracies to poison everyone.
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4130
  • Thanked: 249 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #10 on: 30/06/2014 19:17:08 »
Many years ago, my dentist said that I was about the youngest of his patients who suffered traditional dental decay. This is because my adult teeth came through just before the water in my home city was fluoridated.

Younger children had the fluoride built into their adult teeth, and this made them much tougher.

He commented that the main dental threat to this younger generation was from acidic soft drinks, which attacked the teeth directly.
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8670
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #11 on: 30/06/2014 20:18:45 »
1)Is this even a serious question?   
2)In 1945, "Program F" was implemented by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).
3)This is the most extensive U.S. study of the health effects of fluoride, which was the key chemical component in ATOMIC BOMB PRODUCTION.
4)One of the most toxic chemicals known to man, fluoride, it is found, causes marked adverse effects to the central nervous system but much of the information is squelched in the name of national security because of fear that lawsuits would undermine full-scale production of atomic bombs. 

5)They knew this in the 1940's and the big push began to put fluoride in drinking water nationwide in the '50's. 
6)I wonder why.

OK,
1 yes it's a reasonable question because it's sometimes difficult to tell the real (but dull) story from all the conspiracy nonsense.
2
Got any references to real scientific papers? The only stories I saw about "program F"  as junk on conspiracy site.
3 Well, since they do use fluoride in the manufacture of bombs, it's good to know that they were checking the effects it had on the workforce. People seem to forget that the point of the military is to kill the enemy's guys- not your own.
However, the key use of fluoride in uranium processing is in a chemical called uranium hexafluoride.
There's no question that the stuff is bad for you. But the real problem there is the uranium- which, in addition to being radioactive, is also rather poisonous.

The claim that fluoride is one of the most toxic chemicals known is true- but only in the same way that I'm one of the most attractive men on the planet. There are about 4 billion men and I'm among the most attractive 3,999,999,999.
True but meaningless.
There are plenty of chemicals much more toxic than fluorides. (as an aside, the really toxic ones like ricin and BTX are natural, rather than man made.)
5 They did, indeed, know about fluoride in the 40s and by the 50s they had realised that adding it to the water (where nature didn't do this for us) would improve our teeth. Among the things they knew was that the first symptom of low level toxicity is mottling of the teeth. As long as you keep the concentration low enough to avoid that (and they do) there are no detectable toxic effects.

6 to reduce the degree to which our teeth suffer from decay.
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #12 on: 30/06/2014 23:47:50 »
It never hurts to have large blinded studies, or perhaps re-analyze the data, especially as more and more municipalities are adding fluoride to their water.  But, enough don't add fluoride, that there is always comparative data.  Fluoride toothpaste?

As BC mentioned, there are lots of toxic chemicals.  High doses of Chlorine is also toxic.  Yet, it is part of one of the most common food flavorings in the world, and chlorine is important to providing safe drinking water.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4727
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #13 on: 01/07/2014 05:57:22 »
Thousands of people are killed by water every year. Bloody dangerous stuff - ought to be banned. But there is a multinational conspiracy to take the natural product, remove all the natural organisms that live in it, make it completely tasteless and odorless, and pipe it straight into people's homes. The conspiracy is so pervasive that even wellmeaning charities have been bamboozled into supporting it and delivering this dangerous substance into primitive villages where people have lived a natural existence for thousands of years.

Just because it is a natural constituent of beer doesn't make it safe. All sorts of lethal chemicals like chlorine and ozone are added to it to destroy the balance of its ecosystem.
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8670
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #14 on: 01/07/2014 19:11:00 »
OK, I apologise: I should know better but...

Is this even a serious question?   In 1945, "Program F" "Program W" was implemented by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). This is the most extensive U.S. study of the health effects of fluoride water, which was the key chemical component in ATOMIC BOMB PRODUCTION. One of the most toxic chemicals known to man, fluoride water, it is found, causes marked adverse effects to the central nervous system but much of the information is squelched in the name of national security because of fear that lawsuits would undermine full-scale production of atomic bombs.  They knew this in the 1940's and the big push began to put fluoride water in drinking water nationwide in the '50's.  I wonder why.
OK, so I'm parodying it, but is anything in the new version any more wrong than in the first?
 

Offline SorryDnoodle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 125
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #15 on: 03/07/2014 03:36:37 »
OK, so I'm parodying it, but is anything in the new version any more wrong than in the first?[/font]

Nope, this seems like nothing more than "Chemophobia" and nothing more.
 

Offline chiralSPO

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1879
  • Thanked: 145 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #16 on: 07/07/2014 19:22:26 »
The toxicity of fluoride is well documented and if you were to read the research coming out of Europe where flouring is banned in a high number of countries you would see the horrible truth.

First the fluoride is water is not the same fluoride we find in nature.  The product added to our water is a waste product from pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing.

Second fluoride is a highly persistent chemical which is difficult to very difficult to remove from the body.  Just as you claim that it bonds to teeth and bones it also bonds very well to our cells forming cocoons around each cell.  This cocoon blocks the nutrients from reaching the cell and it dies.  The fluoride then moves to the next cell.  Simply put, the body is starved to death over a long period of time.

Ask yourself while infant toothpaste does not contain fluoride.  Ask your self how a small animal will die from ingestion of a tube of tooth paste.

Take it out of our water as it's so over used.  Its in our water, tap and bottles, its in all soda and bear.  Its in out fruits and vegetables and the animal products we eat.  When do we realize this is so very wrong!

As was noted centuries ago "dose makes the poison."

It is true that fluoride is very toxic and even corrosive at high concentrations (high doses), but every substance has a level at which it is toxic (this includes such innocuous chemicals as water, oxygen, nitrogen, sugar...) More important than identifying a substance as toxic, is identifying the dose at which toxic effects are manifested. In the case of compounds used to improve quality of life, the question really should be "at what level is the maximum net positive effect?"

It would appear that the fluoride levels used are very far below the toxic threshold, and have a measurable positive influence on tooth health.

Also, I want to take issue with the argument that "the fluoride in water is not the same fluoride we find in nature.  The product added to our water is a waste product from pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing."---Fluoride is fluoride. Unless they are somehow using some other isotope of fluorine (which they aren't), or are somehow contaminating the fluoride with traces of the pesticide, the fluoride produced by these processes is identical, in every way, to "natural" fluoride (which is most likely the source of the precursors for pesticide manufacture anyway)

If I were you, I would worry more about the chemicals that made it into the drinking water by accident than those that are put there on purpose.
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8670
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #17 on: 07/07/2014 20:35:41 »
The bit about
"the fluoride in water is not the same fluoride we find in nature.  The product added to our water is a waste product from pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing."
is wrong, but has some basis in reality.
What is added to water is not (usually) fluoride but fluorosilicate.
That is indeed a by-product from the manufacture of phosphate fertiliser.
(calling it "waste" makes as much sense as describing my leather shoes as "waste" from the meat industry, but the anti-fluoride lobby like to put a bad spin on things if they can).
Part of the reason they use it is that it's cheap.
But the real advantage to using fluorophosphate (rather than fluoride) is that it's
ermm, well, how to put this.

It's less toxic.

Odd thing to choose to complain about.

Now, if you want to look at other  fluorine compounds you might be interested in fluoroacetates.
They are rather more toxic than fluorides, They are actually used as pesticides(well they were, they got phased out because they were too dangerous.)
I think it's interesting to look at the sort of plant people used to manufacture this pesticide

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chailletia_toxicaria
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Is fluoride in drinking water harmful?
« Reply #17 on: 07/07/2014 20:35:41 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums