Monday, May 02, 2005

Toxic Fluoride

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had a debate with an anti-fluoride opponent in the letters to the editor section of my local newspaper. The anti-fluoride debate is filled with half-truths and misinformation similar to that found with the anti-vaccination movement and most other areas of health fraud.

It can be easy to be mislead when it comes to scientific information. Much of the confusion can be traced to the use of particular words and phrases. Below is a list of claims made by my opponent and the full facts.

1. Fluoride is toxic.
A. Technically, this is correct. If you consume enough fluoride it can kill you. But then, virtually everything has a toxic level if you have enough. The dose at where 50% of people will die (LD50) from fluoride (Hydrofluorosilicic acid) is 933mg per kg. For a 75kg person, you would need 69,975mg. The concentration of fluoridated water is 1 mg per litre. So the 75kg person would have to sit and drink 69,975 litres of fluoridated water to receive a lethal dose.

2. Fluoride is industrial waste from fertiliser production.

B. This is a half-truth. Fluoride is a by-product of the fertiliser industry. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. It is found in areas that also have high levels of phosphate, which is used as fertiliser. The extraction of fluoride from the fertiliser manufacturing is more accurately described as a by-product, not an industrial waste. Molasses is leftover from sugar processing, yet few would call it industrial waste.

3. The untreated industrial waste must be disposed of in a licensed hazardous waste facility.

C. This is true. The untreated waste from the fertiliser manufacturing must be disposed of correctly. However, the purified by-product, fluoride is not "untreated industrial waste". Why would companies go to the trouble of extracting the fluoride if it is just going to be dumped as waste? It is not the fluoride content that makes the waste dangerous. Phosphates in the river systems lead to algal blooms, fish kills etc. This is why the waste must be disposed of carefully.

4. Only 50% of fluoride we ingest each day is excreted through the kidneys, the remainder accumulates in our bones, pineal gland tissues causing other problems.

D. The excretion rate varies from individual to individual, but around 50% is not uncommon. A substance that accumulates in the body is not necessarily a bad thing. The fluoride is absorbed by the bones and teeth, making them stronger. This is the main reason for placing fluoride in the water in the first place. The original Hydrofluorosilicic acid can react to form non-toxic, inert compounds. One must also consider how much fluoride leaves the body whenever a tooth is lost!

If all of the fluoride remains in it's original form and 50% is excreted by the kidneys, a 75kg person drinking 2 litres of fluoridated water per day would take 191 years to accumulate a lethal dose.

5. I believe in the precautionary principle, If in doubt, leave it out.

E. This is something that I also agree with. In the case of fluoride, there is no doubt. There are decades of tests, studies and practical experience showing the safety and effectiveness of placing fluoride in the water. There is almost unanimous support for fluoridation by the scientific community. There will always be some who disagree, but this is natural when it comes to things scientific.

To place things into perspective, caffeine, which can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, guarana and many other items is 4.8 times more toxic than the fluoride being placed into the water. I don't remember seeing people writing to ban coffee.


At Wednesday, July 27, 2005 5:48:00 am, Blogger Ontario Emperor said...

Interestingly enough Red Bull has been banned in France.

At Tuesday, August 02, 2005 4:07:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so full of shit! wake up world! It's idiots like this that are killing us off slowly while the greedy pharma cartels laugh all the way to the bank

At Tuesday, August 02, 2005 8:01:00 pm, Blogger Kevin Paine said...

Another well constructed and thoughtful comment by someone who is so convinced they are right, that they can't put their name to their comment.

Constructive comments are always welcome, but comments like that above hardly assist people to understand the issues.

I assume anonymous used abuse as he/she couldn't deny the accuracy of the facts presented.

At Tuesday, October 04, 2005 3:14:00 pm, Blogger Vicki R. said...

Many scientists have publicly stated that fluoride is as toxic as lead. A line of anti-fluoride T-shirts is available at

At Thursday, October 13, 2005 11:27:00 pm, Blogger Kevin Paine said...

vicki r,

As my post mentions the lethal dose of flouridated water is 1/5th that of coffee.

A range of Australian Skeptics T-Shirts can be purchased by visiting

At Friday, May 04, 2007 4:16:00 am, Anonymous Fais K. said...

Mr. Paine lies and I don't know why. The EPA union of scientists has warned of the detrimental health effects of water fluoridation, as have the majority of European countries. Check what they all have to say on the topic. If you are so in favor of water fluoridation, that is your right to ingest what you wish, and they can make tablets or whatever else for those who wish to ingest it. But forced ingestion, in the case of public drinking water laughs in the face of the concept of FREEDOM. What will they put in the water next, aspirin to prevent heart attacks? Water Fluoridation is forced medication--if you buy the UNPROVEN idea that fluoride is somehow beneficial--and outright poisoning of the public, especially innocent children who have no teeth to "strengthen", if you understand its harm.

I can decide what 'medication' I will ingest.

At Saturday, April 19, 2008 5:47:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a dental professional I've lost count of the number of children I've treated who require several, if not all, of their deciduous teeth extracted not long after they've erupted (eruption begins at 6 months!).
At university, we are all taught the benefits of fluoride and all the people who have left negative comments on the subject should be grateful that they can afford to buy toothpaste and a brush, that their parents cared enough about them to look after their teeth or that they are educated well enough to make an informed decision.

You severely underestimate the number of parents who singlehandedly cause decay of all their childrens teeth, to the extent that they will have the front teeth restored and leave the children with painful decay in their back teeth because they're more worried about their children looking OK than their actual health.
Have a think about how grateful these children would be to have fluoride introduced to their water, especially when half of them turn up to their appointment chewing sticky sweets so that they are quiet!! Then, imagine how heartbreaking it would be to watch your 3yr old having all their teeth extracted under general anaesthetic with no chance of permanent teeth erupting until they are nearly 7!

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At Wednesday, May 05, 2010 1:42:00 pm, Blogger Mike said...

I am puzzled by anonymous dental professional about children's teeth. Evidently our professional is too busy pulling children's teeth for very hefty profit, to have time to read the fact.
Numerous countries around the Globe have ceased to fluorate the water, and guess what -- NOTHING HAPPENED, atcually some report decrease in rate of cavities, but this is also noted by general statistic that the rate of cavities is decreasing REGARDLESS whether the country's water is fluorated or not.
So all arguments aside, there is an underlying fact, proven statistically, fluoride has very little, or NO EFFECT at all, on rate of cavities. It is therefore unnecessary, and toxic. BTW, anybody who doubts toxicity of fluoride, read the warning on the back of the toothpaste. It says "do not use anymore than needed to brush the teeth. It ends "if ingested, call POISON CONTROL CENTER (bla bla bla)"
This Warning was mandated by FDA, yes the same FDA which refuses to pull deadly drugs off the shelves, and always defends the interests of Big Pharma and Big Chemicals !!!!!

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At Friday, August 29, 2014 1:29:00 pm, Blogger schmoepooh said...

What about the greedy alternative medicine con artists?

At Friday, August 29, 2014 1:37:00 pm, Blogger schmoepooh said...

Outstanding succinct summary of the facts Kevin. Keep up the good work. Disturbing though how the psychos are drawn out in retaliation.

At Tuesday, September 02, 2014 2:33:00 am, Anonymous Kurt Ferre said...

According to Gosslin's "Clinical Toxicology"' printed in 1984, fluoride lies between lead and arsenic in toxicity. This is a favorite rant of the anti-fluoronistas.

What they fail to also list from Gosslin's book that lies between lead and arsenic is caffeine, which Kevin has mentioned as toxic.

Gosslin's lists table salt at the same toxicity level as lead.

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At Monday, August 29, 2016 1:27:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the original article purports to be based on science and everyone who is a critic is a quack. It would be nice to have the reference for their statement "The dose at where 50% of people will die (LD50) from fluoride (Hydrofluorosilicic acid) is 933mg per kg." obtained? I dont believe lethal dose experiments are performed on humans.

So to compare LD50 from other mammals it seems very toxic.

Oral, mouse: LD50 = 44 mg/kg;
Oral, rabbit: LD50 = 200 mg/kg;
Oral, rat: LD50 = 31 mg/kg;

If author is around to respond that would be great.

At Monday, August 29, 2016 1:41:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above is for Sodium Fluoride, as used in most toothpaste btw.

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