Fluoride

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Fluoride Facts

  • Fluoride is not licensed as a drug by the European Regulator (EMeA) or US FDA, despite the fact that it is used to treat or prevent a disease, namely dental caries (tooth decay). Dental caries is officially classified as an infectious disease caused by bacteria within the buccal cavity, Streptococcus mutans in particular
  • In Ireland where the water is fluoridated, there was not one single clinical trial of this medicine and the Irish Medicines Board have also not licensed fluoride (fluorosilicic acid). Seven in 10 people living in Ireland consume unsafe amounts of fluoride, and fluorosis is endemic among Irish children
  • The risk assessment promised by the World Health Organization in 2003 has still not been delivered
  • The usual form of fluoride added to drinking water, fluorosilicic acid, is a waste product derived from the manufacture of agricultural fertiliser
  • Babies consuming infant formula made from fluoridated drinking water will ingest levels of fluoride that exceed safety thresholds set by the European Union
  • Dr Peter Mansfield has commented via the BMJ Rapid Response page on the findings of the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2003, and states that after looking at the results of the survey he has calculated that in non-fluoridated areas of the UK, 20% of adults are above the safe fluoride intake. In fluoridated areas, this rises to 63% of adults (19 to 64 yrs)
  • A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis was published on 20th July 2012 in Environmental Health Perspectives. It is entitled
    Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity, and found that children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low fluoride areas.

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The World Health Organization and fluoride

Click here to read ANH’s submission (from November 2004) to a consultation undertaken by the World Health Organization over its Drinking Water Guideline, which allows up to 1.5 mg/L of fluoride in drinking water. This guideline level exists mainly because natural fluorides occur in some countries at up to these levels and it would be uneconomic for these countries to remove the fluoride. This then gives water companies—where they are allowed by their governments—to administer fluoride at around 1 mg/L to the public drinking water supply with the intent of reducing the rate of tooth decay. The trouble is that not only is its role in reducing tooth decay the subject of considerable scientific debate, there are also very significant risks in administering fluoride to the water supply. The risks are greatest to those who are young, sick or consume above-average quantities of fluoridate drinking water, such as sports people.

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The European Food Safety Authority says it’s okay to add calcium fluoride to food supplements…

See ANH’s latest review on Europe’s highest authority on food safety, the European Food Safety Authority, which issued a decision in late November 2008 to allow food supplements containing fluoride as an active ingredient. On top of intakes from tap water in countries like the USA and Ireland where around two-thirds or three-quarters of the water supply is fluoridated, or the UK, where around 15% is mass-medicated in this way, this could tip some people well over the safe limits. More than this, we try to understand how it’s possible for EFSA to be so leniant on fluoride, when legally speaking, it shouldn’t go near the stuff! Fluoride is a medicine, not a food. Find out more in our December 2008 review.

The European Food Safety Authority also says it’s okay to add the form of fluoride in toothpaste to food supplements…

ANH releases it’s critique on EFSA’s opinion over the safety of sodium monofluorophosphate in food supplements, along with that of Professor Vyvyvan Howard (University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland). Click here for the press release issued 26th January 2009.

The ANH then presented an open letter to the executive director of EFSA, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, on 3rd February 2009.

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Importance of water molecule clusters

Liquid water is much more than millions of discrete H2O molecules. It is actually a highly mobile, vibrating and forever changing cluster of water molecules in which the hydrogen bonds between individual water molecules are continuously breaking and reforming.

We know that water structure, or the arrangement of the molecules in a given volume of water, varies according to many factors including temperature and pressure. We also know that the structure and properties of water within cells, particularly adjacent to membranes in cells or organelles (sometimes referred to as vicinal water), is very different to the structure of bulk water. The key point here is that the unique structure of water within cells is purely a result of the geometry of the surrounding hydrogen bonding sites.

We also know that to get water into cells (cellular hydration), the main purpose of water consumption, there can be advantages in having smaller rather than larger clusters of water. Some scientists argue that a hydrogen-bonded cluster in which four H2Os are located at the corners of an imaginary tetrahedron is an especially favourable (low-potential energy) configuration, but the lifetime of such clusters will be incredibly brief (theoretically measurable in a picosecond [10-12 second] time scale).

The bottom line is that, although there are hundreds of products available that purport to provide us,,often without supporting scientific evidence,,with the correct form of structured water, we should not deviate from the primary object of water in health: water should be delivered to the body to optimize its flow into the body’s cells.

In addition, the body is almost certainly more capable of dealing with water in its pure state, rather than water that is loaded with contaminants, some of which have only become commonplace in our diets or water sources within the last 20 to 50 years.

fluoride, water, safe

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About water

Water is a truly remarkable chemical substance that is arguably our single most important natural resource. If we do not consume water for a few days, we die, whilst we can survive for weeks without food.

Water appears to be unique when compared with the 15 million or so chemicals we know something about. It is its unique and anomalous properties that are, probably more than anything else, responsible for life on our planet. One aspect of its uniqueness that we so often take for granted without giving it thought is that the solid form (ice) is less dense than the liquid form (water). Another unique feature is that, given its very low molecular weight, water would be expected to boil at around –90oC, but it doesn’t! We all know that water is comprised, as its formula H2O suggests, of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, but there is so much more to it than that…

In the water molecule, the single electron of each hydrogen atom is shared with one of the six outer-shell electrons of the oxygen atom (creating two covalent bonds), leaving four electrons that form two non-bonding pairs. So many of the unique properties of water originate from the way in which the size and nuclear charge of the water molecule’s single oxygen atom distorts the electronic charge clouds of the atoms of other elements when these are chemically bonded to it.

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Is our drinking water contaminated?

On a global scale there is no doubt that pathogenic microbes in water present easily the greatest proven risk to human health.

The World Health Organization and many national or regional authorities have stipulated safe levels for a diverse range of toxins, these levels being based largely on limited data on individual contaminants and on the degree of water purity that is technically and economically feasible from a water treatment viewpoint. These levels have never been developed according to risk assessments on the combined impact of numerous contaminants because the scientific data required to evaluate toxic mixtures in drinking water, as well as in other aspects of our environment, is more or less impossible to obtain.

It is not hard to argue that the existing systems of risk analysis based on detection of individual elements and compounds by mass spectrometry (MS) and high pressure gas liquid chromatography (HPLC) and comparison with ‘accepted standards’ is technically flawed as it ignores the effects of mixtures. Grabbing this problem by the horns is a US company (Environmental Toxicology Laboratory Inc.) that is developing a means of assessing the toxicity of mixtures in drinking water by evaluating the swimming pattern of a chemically ultra-sensitive, flagellate micro-organism when subjected to different quality waters.

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The key categories of contaminant in drinking water are summarised in the below:

  • Pathogenic organisms
    Chlorination of water exists to control or eliminate pathogens from our water supply, but periodic outbreaks of Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium, coliforms and gastro-intestinal viruses are testament to the fact that treatment does not always exclude these disease organisms. The double-edged sword is that if we wish to increase the concentration of chemicals in our water to guard against infectious agents, we must also accept the increased risk posed by the chemicals used to treat the water.
  • Disinfection products
    Sodium hypochlorite, chlorine gas and chlorine dioxide are extremely widely used for water disinfection purposes and there is increasing evidence that these chlorinated compounds can contribute to some very serious health problems. Known harmful effects include eye/skin irritations, stomach discomfort and anaemia. Absorption of chlorine can be greater through the skin from the taking of showers and baths than via drinking water. Most of the long-term health problems associated with chlorine are caused by chlorine by-products. Ozone is also sometimes used for drinking water disinfection, but its use is also not without risk from by-products.
  • Disinfection by-products
    Hundreds of different compounds can be formed from the reaction of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) with other compounds present in drinking water and many of these are known to be more hazardous than chlorine itself. They include 3-chloro-4-(dichloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-2(5H)-furanone, or ‘mutagen-X’, also commonly referred to as MX and the trihalomethane (THM) group (e.g. bromodichloromethane, chloroform, bromoform). Additionally, where chlorine dioxide or ozone are used in disinfection to reduce formation of hazardous trihalomethanes, toxic by-products may be formed, such as chlorite (from chlorine dioxide) and bromate (from a reaction between ozone and bromide which may be naturally occurring in source waters). Many members of this group are carcinogenic and they may contribute to liver, kidney and central nervous system disorders. Children and babies (especially the unborn) are particularly vulnerable to such compounds.
  • Inorganic chemicals
    These comprise a very long list, including various metals such as aluminium (used to clarify water in treatment plants), lead (in old water pipes and solder), cadmium (naturally occurring or from water pipe solder and electroplating); arsenic (naturally occurring in some waters); and also fluoride (naturally occurring and/or added to some water supplies in a misguided attempt to reduce dental caries). While there are many potential adverse effects caused by excessive intakes of any of these inorganic chemicals individually, no one is in a position to elucidate what the combined effects of the multitude of chemicals in a given water supply might be.
  • Organic chemicals
    These include a large range of industrial chemicals like dichlorobenzene and dichloroethane, pesticides (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides and their breakdown products), dioxins (probably the most inherently toxic group of compounds known), endocrine-disrupting xeno-oestrogens (from contraceptive pills and plasticizers in food and drinking containers and plastic tableware) and a wide range of other persistent compounds discharged by industrial chemical plants, dry cleaners, timber preservation plants, run-off from landfill sites, agriculture, etc. Some of the most persistent compounds still causing problems in the environment are those which are no longer used industrially, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Persistent organochlorine compounds are fat soluble and accumulate over time in the body. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are now known to cause biological effects at any detectable level, with limits of detection being down to around 0.1 nanograms per litre for bisphenol A (a plasticizer) and estradiol (from contraceptive pills). In addition, we don’t know categorically the significance of long-term or lifetime exposures to low levels of mixtures of these compounds but much of the existing scientific evidence suggests that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and endocrine disrupters may present very substantial, long-term health risks.
  • Radionuclides
    Alpha and beta particles, as well as radium and uranium are among several radioactive contaminants that have been found in water sources as a result of decay or erosion of both naturally occurring minerals or rocks in the Earth’s surface and of man-made materials or wastes.

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Risk assessment of water contaminants

With the rapid development of highly sensitive analytical equipment such as combined High Pressure Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES), detection of extremely small quantities of contaminants in drinking water is now feasible. However, it is not just the presence of these contaminants that is an issue, it is how biologically significant their presence is.

Risk assessment approaches are increasingly being used to evaluate the relative importance of contaminants in drinking water, as in other areas of human health. By and large, these assessments are based on dose-response data derived from laboratory tests on surrogate species such as rats and mice for assessing risks in humans and on fish and other wildlife for assessing risks in the environment. More comprehensive risk assessments employ a tiered approach, so that substances that represent zero or minimal risk are eliminated from detailed, time-consuming and expensive risk assessment early in the process. Uncertainty and probability are also incorporated into the more complete risk assessments for contaminants that are thought to present a more serious risk to health.

One of the greatest problems with these classical, risk assessment paradigms used to assess contaminant risks to date is that they have not taken adequately into account the cumulative risks associated with long-term (lifetime) exposures, nor have they taken into account the effects of mixtures of contaminants. The reason for this is almost certainly that governments appreciate the consequences of such comprehensive risk assessment: most drinking water would likely be assessed as unsafe for human consumption.

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Taking control of the situation – in your home

So we are left with justifications from myopic, pseudo-science-justified risk assessment regimes, almost as defective as the ones that have been recently used to assess the safety of nutrients, which have been carefully adjusted to inform us that our tap water is safe most of the time. On weighing up a large part of the available evidence, I simply do not believe it.

Using some sort of point-of-use filtration system to reduce the diverse range of contaminants in tap water has to be one of the best investments for any household. If these systems rely on replaceable filters, it is essential that the filter is replaced according to the manufacturer’s specification, otherwise they can themselves release contaminants into the drinking water or become hotbeds of microbial contamination.

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References

Anonymous, Current Drinking Water Standards, US Environmental Protection Agency, 2002 (http://www.epa.gov/safewater/mcl.html).

Falconer IR. Are endocrine disrupting compounds a health risk in drinking water? Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2006;3(2):180-4.

Fujimoto T, Kubo K, Aou S. Prenatal exposure to bisphenol A impairs sexual differentiation of exploratory behaviour and increases depression-like behaviour in rats. Brain Res, 2006; 1068(1): 49-55. Epub Dec 27, 2005.  Hirose A, Nishikawa A, Kinae N, Hasegawa R. 3-chloro-4-(dichloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-2(5H)-furanone (MX): toxicological properties and risk assessment in drinking water. Rev Environ Health, 1999;14(3):103-20.

Liu K, Cruzan JD, Saykally RJ. Water clusters. Science, 1996; 27: 929-93.

Lower, S. A gentle introduction to the structure of water (website)http://www.chem1.com/acad/sci/aboutwater.html and associated links

Ritter L at al. Sources, pathways, and relative risks of contaminants in surface water and groundwater: a perspective prepared for the Walkerton inquiry. J Toxicol Environ Health A, 2002; 65(1): 1-142. Review.

Rodriguez-Mozaz S, de Alda MJ, Barcelo D. Monitoring of estrogens, pesticides and bisphenol A in natural waters and drinking water treatment plants by solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A, 2004; 1045(1-2): 85-92.

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Related pages

10th February 2016 Drinking water supplies worldwide in perilous state 

8th July 2015 Cochrane: Drinking water fluoridation unproven

20th August 2014 ANH-Intl News Alerts: Week 34, 2014

2nd April 2014 Sins of omission and statistics: UK pushes fluoride as world thinks again

19th June 2013 ANH-Intl slams EFSA’s opinion on ‘Adequate Intake’ of fluoride

3rd April 2013 H2O dear: The rising problem of drugs in our water supplies

19th September 2012 EU Commission washes its hands of child safety issues raised in fluoride petitions

15th August 2012 Increase in dental fluoride varnish treatments for children despite insufficient safety data

27th April 2012 West Midlands campaigners vow to stop fluoridation of Birmingham drinking water

16th March 2012 European Court set to judge water hydration claim

5th July 2011 EC Committee report confirms ‘no obvious advantage’ to water fluoridation over topical fluoride

27th May 2011 ANH News Item: Leading paediatrician asks for rethink on infant fluoride exposure in Irish republic

24th February 2011 ANH News Item: More Alice in Wonderland decisions on health claims

17th February 2011 ANH News Item: Are Southampton residents guinea pigs in UK Government study on fluoride? 

21st January 2011 ANH News Item: Fluoride Judicial Review reveals inconsistency between UK Gov policy and regulation

17th January 2011 ANH News Item: US Govt’s lower fluoride levels will still expose children to risks

23rd December 2010 Water Online: Fluoride In Water Linked To Lower IQ In Children

4th May 2010 Fluoride risks in volcanic ash expose incompetence of EU food safety authority

Hampshire Against Fluoridation latest: letter from Councillor David Harrison to Daily Echo

18th December 2009 ANH Press Release: ‘United we are stronger’ – ANH announces merger

27th November 2009 EC scientific committee ‘unqualified for task’ say international medical doctors group

13 August 2009 UK health chiefs’ secret plan to mass medicate the nation’s water supply with fluoride

28 June 2009 ANH again challenges science used to justify mass fluoridation of the water supply

27 June 2009 ANH submission to SCHER on drinking water fluoridation

03 April 2009 European Court ruling infringes freedom of speech

27 February 2009 ANH Press Release: UK Public health authority demonstrates lack of democracy in fluoridation decision

10 February 2009 ANH Open Letter to the European Food Safety Authority

26 January 2009 ANH Press Release: ANH calls for inquiry into EFSA work

18 December 2008 ANH Review: EFSA—are you trying to poison us?

09 December 2008 UK County Council rejects proposal to mass fluoridate water supply

10 October 2007 Panel Urges Lowering of Allowable Fluoride

01 January 2007 Proposals to add drinking water in Southampton and south west Hampshire

01 November 2005 Fluoridation in UK is now illegal

30 November 2004 ANH submission to WHO Drinking Water Guideline — Rolling Revision

23 November 2003 Whats wrong with our healthcare system?

Videos

Trained as a chemist, specializing in environmental chemistry, Dr. Paul Connett is known throughout the world as a leader in the movement against water fluoridation because of his knowledge base.

He is truly dedicated to the cause of ending water fluoridation, and heads up an organization called the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) or www.fluoridealert.org that contains a wealth of information.

In this interview, Dr. Connett talks with Dr. Mercola and shares important information about fluoride and water fluoridation that you may have not been aware of before. He also offers practical advice for what you can do to help get fluoride removed from the water supply of the United States and in other fluoridating countries.

The total views of this interview has rapidly increased, so please keep the momentum going and encourage all your contacts to watch it as well!

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