Fluoride in Drinking Water and How to Filter Fluoride from Water
Fluoride in drinking water: Frequently Asked Questions
Despite growing questions about the effectiveness of using fluoride to fight tooth decay – and increasing concerns of the safety of this practice — over 60 percent of the North American’ water supply is fluoridated.
- Why is fluoride added to water?
- Is fluoridated water necessary for healthy teeth?
- Does fluoride need to be swallowed in order to prevent tooth decay?
- Doesn’t everyone fluoridate their water?
- Where does the fluoride added to water come from?
- Does fluoride occur naturally in water?
- What are the potential risks from consuming fluoridated water?
- Is fluoridated water safe for babies?
- Is fluoridated water safe for people with kidney disease?
- How much fluoride are you exposed to?
- How do I avoid fluoride from my tap water?
2. Is fluoridated water necessary for healthy teeth? NO. Most recent, large-scale studies have found that fluoridated water provides only a minor benefit to teeth, or no demonstrable benefit at all. According to a recent Canadian government review: “The magnitude of fluoridation’s effect is not large in absolute terms, is often not statistically significant and may not be of clinical significance.” Moreover, according to the National Academy of Sciences, fluoride is not an essential nutrient. This means that no human disease – including tooth decay – will result from a “deficiency” of fluoride. Thus, unlike real nutrients like calcium and magnesium, the human body does not need fluoride for any physiological process.
3. Does fluoride need to be swallowed in order to prevent tooth decay? NO. Most dental researchers now concede that fluoride’s main benefit comes from direct contact with the outside of teeth (a “topical” effect), and not from ingestion (a “systemic” effect). There is no need to swallow fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
4.Doesn’t everyone fluoridate their water? NO. Less than 10 countries in the world fluoridate more than 50% of their water supplies, while almost half of the world’s population drinking fluoridated water reside in North America. While most water supplies in the United States and Canada are artificially fluoridated, most water supplies in other western countries are not. In western Europe, most countries have rejected water fluoridation, including: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Switzerland. And, according to the World Health Organization’s figures, the children of these countries have teeth that are just as good as those in countries that use water fluoridation.
5. Where does the fluoride added to water come from? The main fluoride chemical added to water (hydrofluorosilicic acid) Unlike the fluoride used in toothpaste, hydrofluorosilicic acid is not pharmaceutical-grade quality. It is an unpurified, industrial-grade, corrosive acid which has been linked, in several recent studies, to increased levels of lead in children’s blood. Also used are: Sodium fluoride (NaF) and Sodium silicofluoride. Sodium silicofluoride and hydrofluorosilicic acid are the waste products from the fertilizer industry; these are classified as hazardous wastes, and have NEVER been fully tested to ascertain their full potential health hazard. Instead, pharmaceutical gradesodium fluoride is used in the majority of studies evaluating the risk to human health. Therefore, the real danger to your health may be far greater than any of the studies done so far have shown.
6. Does fluoride occur naturally in water? Like arsenic and lead, very small amounts of fluoride can be found in most water supplies. However, the level of fluoride that naturally-occurs in water is usually much lower than the level artificially added in water fluoridation programs.
7. What are the potential risks from consuming fluoridated water? Recent studies in the peer-reviewed medical literature indicate that fluoridated water can have detrimental side effects. Health risks associated with low-to-moderate doses of fluoride include:
- Dental fluorosis. This condition is a mottling of the tooth enamel, which is permanent once a child’s teeth are formed. It is characterized by the failure of tooth enamel to crystallize properly in permanent teeth. The effects range from chalky, opaque blotching of teeth to severe, rust-colored stains, surface pitting and tooth brittleness
- Bone fracture
- Bone cancer
- Skeletal fluorosis: a complicated illness that occurs when too much fluoride has accumulated in your bones. Early symptoms include: Pains in your bones and joints; Burning, prickling, and tingling in your limbs; Muscle weakness; Chronic fatigue; Gastrointestinal disorders; Reduced appetite and weight loss.
- Skin rash
- Reduced Thyroid activity
- IQ deficits
An article in the Irish Times of Dublin on August 16, 1999, reports that Dr. Hans Moolenburgh’s research in Holland found that up to 4 percent of people using fluoridated water experienced health problems. These problems ranged from gastrointestinal disorders to mouth sores to rashes to headaches to forms of arthritis to more serious concerns such as cancers and neurological complaints.
Fluoride is a cumulative poison. 98 percent of the fluoride you ingest in water is absorbed into your blood through your gastrointestinal tract. From there, it enters your body’s cellular tissues. On average, about 50 percent of the fluoride you ingest each day gets excreted through your kidneys. The remainder accumulates in your teeth and bones, pineal gland, and other tissues, such as the aorta.
Other common health hazards and diseases associated with fluoride include: Increased lead absorption; Hyperactivity and/or lethargy; Lowered thyroid function; Inactivates 62 enzymes; Brain damage; Genetic damage and cell death; Dementia; Disrupts immune system; Disrupts synthesis of collagen; Inhibits formation of antibodies; Muscle disorders; Arthritis; Increased aging process; Reduced melatonin production, leading to earlier onset of puberty; Damaged sperm, increased infertility.
Some of the recent validation for the danger of fluoridating drinking water comes from the National Research Council of the National Academies review, “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA Standards,” published in March 2006. Their report determined that the amount of fluoride necessary to cause harm to the more vulnerable members of the population is exceeded by the current fluoride levels in water.
You have a heightened risk of developing problems from even mild exposure to fluoride, such as bone fractures, if you:
- Are elderly
- Are deficient in calcium, magnesium, and/or vitamin C
- Have cardiovascular problems
- Have kidney problems
8. Is fluoridated water safe for babies? NO. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children under 1 year of age should not receive infant formula made with fluoridated water. Babies exposed to fluoridated water are at high risk of developing dental fluorosis – a tooth defect caused by fluoride-induced cell damage within the teeth.
Other harm is also likely. According, for example, to the US National Research Council, “it is apparent that fluorides can interfere with the functions of the brain.” The danger that fluoride poses to the brain is likely greatest during fetal and infant development, as during this time the barrier which protects the child’s brain from environmental toxins is not yet fully formed. Thus, chemicals that find their way into a baby’s bloodstream can penetrate into the brain.
According to the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility: “fluoride exposure, at levels that are experienced by a significant proportion of the population whose drinking water is fluoridated, may have adverse impacts on the developing brain. Though no final conclusions may be reached from available data, the findings are provocative and of significant public health concern.”
9. Is fluoridated water safe for people with kidney disease? NO. Recent research has found that fluoridated water can contribute to the development of painful bone disorders in people with advanced kidney disease.
10. How much fluoride are you exposed to? In 1962, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) set fluoride levels of 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million (ppm) in drinking water as the ideal range to prevent dental caries with minimal dental fluorosis. In 1986 the Environmental Protection Agency relaxed the maximum contaminant level (MCL) to 4 ppm.
Communities that add fluoride to their drinking water still use the old PHS formula. But communities with naturally fluoridated water are not required to remove fluoride unless the level exceeds 4 ppm. However, some of the adverse health effects can occur at levels of about 1 ppm, and they are both more pronounced and more widespread at levels near 4 ppm.
Fluoride exposure levels for a 110-pound adult from food, beverages, toothpaste, and mouthwash
|Flouride Concentration in Drinking Water||% Over 1mg total fluoride intake “optimal ” dosage|
|Unfluoridated communities||0.3 mg/l 0.88-2.20 mg / day||as much as 120%|
|“Optimally” fluoridated communities||0.7 mg/l 1.58-6.60 mg / day||as much as 560%|
|Fluoridated communities||2.0 mg/l 2.10-7.05 mg / day||as much as 605%|
11. How do I avoid fluoride from my tap water? Most regular water filters will not effectively remove fluoride. For instance, Brita filters will NOT remove fluoride. The two types of filters which will reliably remove more than 90% of the fluoride are reverse-osmosis filters and activated alumina filters. Reverse osmosis is effective, but also strips outallminerals in the drinking water.
Best Water’s fluoride removal system consists of three filters, one of which contains activated alumina. Additional media removes all traces of metals and “polishes” the taste.
12. Some references: The 500-page review of fluoride’s toxicology by the National Research Council of the National Academies: Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards, published in March 2006;
Evidence from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found 32 percent of U.S. children have dental fluorosis, (caused by excess fluoride);
The American Dental Association’s 2006 policy change, which recommends not giving fluoridated water to infants for the first 12 months of life;
A Harvard University study that found a five- to seven-fold increased risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) among young men who were exposed to fluoride between the ages of 6 and 8;
The CDC’s recognition that fluoride is beneficial in reducing tooth decay when it’s applied topically, not taken systemically;
Neurotoxicity of Sodium Fluoride in Rats”, Mullenix, P. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 17 (2), 1995).