Waste in the Public Well
The Lie About Fluoride or Why I No Longer Feed My Kid Rat Poison
By Miriam Green
I remember standing in the kitchen with my daughter when she was a little girl. I was about to give her an orange or purple tablet from a bottle of pills her doctor had prescribed.
friend Celeste was visiting, and asked about the pills.
told her it was a prescription for fluoride.
wouldn't give my kid rat poison," she replied.
was my introduction to the question of fluoride.
fluoride acts as an internal poison to insects, and is frequently
used in poison baits for Cockroaches, Earwigs, and other pests..."
(Bailliere's Encyclopaedia of Scientific Agriculture, 1931, p.
a little girl in Seattle, I remember my mother adding fluoride
drops to my breakfast juice. It was supposed to make my teeth
is the only site contaminant which may cause adverse health effects
to workers. Fluoride levels can result in an increase in the incidence
of dental caries and skeletal fluorosis." (From the report,
Public Health Assessment, Reynolds Metals Company, Troutdale,
Multnomah County, Oregon, CERCLIS NO. ORD009412677, January 14,
I tend to be a packrat of obscure information. If something strikes
my interest, I do what all good packrats do. For better or worse,
I start collecting.
comment got me thinking about fluoride. What was the truth of
the matter? Every time I came across a health-related book, I'd
check to see if it referenced fluoride.
soon came across the writings of Dr. Paavo Airola, Dr. Robert
Mendelsohn, and Nurse Elben (first name not indicated). These
works categorized fluoridation of drinking water as a scam, a
hoax, useless, or fraudulent.
was the investigative work of Dr. F. B. Exner, though, that exposed
the incestuous relationship between the powerful industries which
produce fluoride, and the U.S. Public Health Service, which instituted
fluoridation policy in the 1940's and awarded grant money to the
American Dental Association in fluoridation's early days.
Would there be any use in making attempts to counteract the local
fear of fluoride on the part of residents of Salem and Gloucester
counties through lectures on F toxicology and perhaps the usefulness
of F in tooth health?" (Harold C. Hodge, Chief Pharmacologist,
in letter of May 1, 1946 to Col. S. L. Warren, Manhattan Project;
letter concerned government and industry response to litigation
filed by orchard owners over air-borne fluoride damage to crops;
government was connected as fluoride was a component/byproduct
of nuclear bomb production; Pages 86 and 87 of declassified government
documents uncovered by Joel Griffiths and Chris Bryson; see 1998
Project Censored award winner: "Fluoride, Teeth and the Atomic
I should give you the other side of this story. I should quote
proponents and say, "Hey, fluoride is wonderful! It's good
for your teeth! Drink up and be merry!"
I don't want to lie to you.
Sherrell is a woman who has devoted her life to working against
fluoridation--since it almost killed her. She is a walking encyclopedia
of fluoride knowledge. She read and analyzed the medical and scientific
reports published on the subject--and found something curious:
numbers alleging safety of fluoride dosages and toxicity levels
published in scientific abstracts (summaries) were not the same
as those used in the research papers on which the abstracts were
numbers game. Was anyone paying attention? For more along these
lines, see http://www.ia4u.net/~sherrell.
my view, the evidence is quite convincing that the addition of
sodium fluoride to the public water supply at one part per million
is extremely deleterious to the human body, and, a review of the
evidence will disclose that there was no convincing evidence to
the contrary." (The Hon. John P. Flaherty, Justice, Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania, letter of July 31, 1979)
of the thyroid has been linked to highly fluoridated water."
(Healthy Healing, Tenth Ed., Winner Best Alternative Health Book
1998, p. H339)
fluoride content in community water supplies has been linked to
increased bone loss and fractures in pre- and post-menopausal
women in a study reported in a recent issue of the American Journal
of Epidemiology." (The Oregonian, May 16, 1991)
truth is, the obsession over whether or not fluoridation of water
supplies is healthy for children's teeth is simply a distraction
from what is really going on. So here are the issues, in plain
What Exactly Is It?
Proponents will tell you that it's a natural substance. It's been
around forever, and it's nothing to worry about.
don't tell you that the fluoride used in the majority of U.S.
water fluoridation programs is a hazardous waste by-product of
the phosphate fertilizer industry.
you won't believe me when I say that. So I'll give you the scoop
"from the horse's mouth," so to speak.
understand fluoride, I contacted Gary Pittman. I came across Gary's
name when I read a copy of a letter he wrote to Congress about
fluoride toxicity and damage.
Pittman spent 21 years in Florida making phosphate fertilizer,
and its byproduct--fluoride--for a living. He supervised 80-100
people for many of those years.
asked Gary how fluoride was made, and he gave me the basic recipe.
First, you take phosphate rock from the earth. Add water and sulfuric
acid. That creates phosphoric acid, which gives off hydrogen fluoride.
You send the mix to an evaporation unit to cook.
heat drives off the fluoride. You trap the vapors off the phosphoric
acid, which is "black as tar." You condense the vapors.
That's fluoride--also known as fluosilicic acid, hydrofluosilicic
acid or sodium fluorosilicate.
explained that fluoride itself is second in toxicity to arsenic,
and more toxic than lead. Fluosilicic acid, as byproduct of the
phosphate fertilizer industry, contains industrial carcinogens
like arsenic, lead, cadmium, uranium, radium, radon and polonium.
acid will eat concrete and asphalt, Gary says. It's noxious--it
burns your nose; you can't breathe it. On your skin, it's "the
worst acid in the world."
attaches to things--aluminum, metal, sodium. It takes many forms.
It has biological effects. Gary Pittman explained that fluoride
crosses the blood-brain barrier. He mentioned former co-workers
who had brain tumors, symptoms similar to Alzheimer's, and multiple
was exposed to fluoride by drinking water from the faucet at work,
as fluoride had gotten into the groundwater. He was exposed by
breathing the vapors, and by contact with his skin.
age 47, Gary is disabled, suffering from so many health problems
it is difficult for him to list them all. Gary sued the phosphate
industry for damage to his health, and finally received a settlement.
Over 100 other workers have a class action lawsuit pending against
the phosphate industry for health damage.
asked Gary whether his teeth were healthy.
Pittman told me he has eight real teeth. The rest are porcelain,
crowns and caps.
How Much Are We Already Getting?
U.S. water fluoridation policy originally came into being primarily
to obscure the fact that literally tons of fluoride were being
put into the air by industry and government. If fluoride were
to be added to drinking water, and later people filed lawsuits
for fluoride damage, industry and government could claim innocence,
pointing instead to the side-effects of fluoride in the water
as the cause and the necessary trade-off that one should put up
with in exchange for supposedly healthier teeth.
F. B. Exner was one of the people who devoted his life to investigating
fluoridation. (Since the inception of mandatory fluoridation programs
some 50 years ago, there have been many.) His 1961 article, "Economic
Motives Behind Fluoride," references some of our Oregon fluoride
producers. Dr. Exner has long since died; but I quote several
sections from his article on the premise that he'd be pleased
that his work lives on--though probably unhappy that 40 years
later, we're still dealing with this issue.
situation regarding aluminum was much worse. Aluminum is made
by electrolysis of bauxite (aluminum oxide) in a bath of molten
cryolite (sodium Aluminum fluoride), either artificial or the
a typical plant, with four "pot lines" of 128 "pots"
each, five tons of fluorine (as cryolite, aluminum fluoride, and
calcium fluoride) were added each day to replenish losses. Of
this, the company estimated that 7,000 pounds a day escaped into
plant, at Troutdale, Oregon, was built and operated for the Government
by Alcoa during the war. In 1946, it was rented from the Government
by Reynolds Metals who demanded that air-cleaning equipment first
be installed. This was done at a cost of more than $270,000. This
cut the emission to less than 4,000 pounds per day.
controls were installed in 1950, at a cost of more than $2 million,
and cut the emission to less than half a ton per day."
article continues a few paragraphs later...
story elsewhere is similar--at Sauvie Island, Longview, Tacoma,
Spokane--with extensive damage to crops, land, and live-stock.
the Dalles, Oregon, vegetation was analyzed both before and after
the plant was built. The plant was opened July 26, 1958. On June
30, the average fluorine content of seven crops grown within a
mile of the factory was 3 ppm. After 73 days of factory operation
it had jumped to 140 ppm. The following year, peaches contained
up to 22 ppm of fluorine; and many suffered from the condition
called "soft suture".
Longview, the people voted down fluoridation in 1952. A few years
later, children started to show mottled teeth; whereupon the Council
put in fluoridation without a vote. Now the mottling can be blamed
on the water rather than the aluminum plant."
1961 article mentions that Washington State University had conducted
fluorine studies in Washington and Oregon in the early years.
Apparently these studies didn't return the kind of results wanted
by the powers that be. The University was presumably penalized
by having its NIH research grants cut. Meanwhile the University
of Washington, which had an "Environmental Research Laboratory"
but had "made no study of fluorine since 1951" received
94% more in research grant money.
was 40 years ago. How many tons a day are now being pumped into
the air? Is anyone keeping track?
checking the Washington State University online database, I found
no reference to fluorine monitoring since the time of Dr. Exner's
Right to Know
There is some monitoring going on now, though it is far
from comprehensive. The "Right to Know Network Database"
is a searchable database which allows the user to search and sort
contaminant emissions by geographical location, by name or type
of contaminant, or by company name. (http://www.rtk.net/)
Right to Know gets its information from a copy of EPA's TRIS database.
got into it and listed hydrogen fluoride emissions, by company
and amount, for the state of Oregon, as well as Clark County and
Longview, Washington. (The EPA has a Hazardous Air Pollution Synonym
List that equates Hydrogen Fluoride with Hydrofluoric Acid; page
C-3 of http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/eidocs/airtoxic.pdf.)
southern Washington we get local hydrogen fluoride emissions from
Reynolds Metals Co. in Longview, and from Vanalco Inc. and SEH-America,
Inc. in Vancouver. In Oregon, several companies release fluoride
emissions. These include (but are not limited to) Reynolds Metals
Co. (Alcoa) in Troutdale; Northwest Aluminum Co. Inc. in The Dalles;
Wah Chang Albany in Albany; Large Parts Campus (a division of
Precision Castparts Corp.) in Portland; Mitsubishi Silicon America
in Salem; and Wacker Siltronic Corp. in Portland.
today get fluoride from other sources as well. We get it in grape
(and other) juices, from insecticide residue. We get it in much
of our foods, which are grown or processed with fluoridated water.
We get high doses in both black tea and green tea. We get it in
certain medications, including some major anti-depressants. We
get it in the air as industrial emissions. And we get it in dental
products and treatments. (See also http://www.nofluoride.com/consumption.htm)
fluoridation proponents claim that 1 ppm is the "optimal"
dose of fluoride we should be getting. Yet the "safety margin"
for this hazardous waste substance is extremely thin--and fluoride
bio-accumulates in a person's body.
we know how much fluoride we are already eating, drinking and
(especially) breathing, before we decide to add fluoride to the
Why Is Government Still Promoting It?
"In regard to the use of fluosilicic acid as a source
of fluoride for fluoridation, this Agency regards such use as
an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By
recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing,
water and air pollution are minimized, and water utilities have
a low-cost source of fluoride available to them." (March
30, 1983 letter from Rebecca Hanmer, Deputy Assistant Administrator
for Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.)
a hazardous waste product is sold, rather than disposed of as
waste, it becomes a product, rather than an environmental liability.
A product generates income. Hazardous waste generates--well, hazardous
waste disposal fees, of course. And hazardous waste landfills.
Seattle Times in July of 1997 reported on how hazardous waste
becomes fertilizer. As in the case of fluoride, hazardous waste
is "recycled" into our food chain by way of the fertilizer
it goes into our silo, it's a hazardous waste,' said Bay Zinc
President Dick Camp. 'When
it comes out of the silo, it's no longer regulated. The exact
same material. Don't ask me why. That's the wisdom of the EPA.'"
(The Seattle Times: Fear in the fields: Part 1 - How hazardous
wastes become fertilizer, July 3, 1997).
why is government/industry still disposing of fluoride in community
Fear of Litigation? Inability to be Accountable? Economics? Status
Quo? Or is it simply that government still believes that the solution
to pollution is dilution, and industry would much prefer to make
money off the "product" than pay to dispose of the environmental
Pittman was not optimistic about our chances of keeping Oregon's
water free of mandatory fluoridation. He says that industry is
running out of places to dump it, and most foreign countries won't
accept it. That leaves the most convenient avenue--the one that's
been used for over half a century--still open. It's simple. Just
convince people to pollute their clean drinking water on purpose
with a known hazardous waste. Convince them, in the absence of
any credible scientific evidence, that it's good for them.
fluoride is wonderful! It's good for your teeth! Drink up and
Green is an independent distributor of Multi-Pure water filtration
systems, a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO,
a legal secretary and a college student. For information on water
filtration, email Miriam: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help keep our water safe from hazardous waste additives, email
Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water: email@example.com
or phone 503-675-7451.
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