Fluoride Action Network

Acute Poisoning from Water Fluoridation

Fluoride Action Network

NOTE: This page provides a listing of water fluoridation accidents that have resulted in poisoning. For a list of other fluoridation accidents, where the spilled fluoride did not make it into the water supply, click here.

Acute Poisonings from Water Fluoridation:

JUNE 2002 – Dublin, California: Malfunction with fluoridation equipment produces fluoride levels as high as 200 ppm at local business. 23 people are poisoned. The primary symptoms are stomach pain and vomiting. (SOURCE: Contra Costa Times 2002)

AUGUST 2000 – Wakefield, Massachusetts: Error with fluoridation equipment leads to fluoride levels as high as 23 ppm. Local health officials claim no one is affected, however news reports interview at least one resident with diarrhea and dizziness. (SOURCE: Boston Herald, 2000)

AUGUST 1993 – Poplarville, Mississippi: Fluoride levels at local restaurant reach 48 ppm, perhaps as high as 200 ppm, after accident with town fluoridation equipment. At least 34 of the restaurant’s patrons are poisoned. A study in Public Health Reports finds that “The most common symptoms were nausea (97%), vomiting (68%), diarrhea (65%), and abdominal cramps (53%); 14 people (41%) reported headaches, four (12%) reported burning sensations in the throat or chest, and one person reported excessive salivation. None recalled an abnormal taste to the water.” (SOURCE: Penman 1997)

JULY 1993 — Chicago, Illinois: 3 dialysis patients die and five additional patients suffer allergic reactions after a malfunction in the fluoride filtration systems allows an unspecified level of fluoride to enter into the dialysis units. (SOURCE: Carton 1994 | Chicago Sun Times 1993  | FDA Health Alert)

MAY 1992 — Hooper Bay, Alaska: One man dies, one man is airlifted to hospital in critical condition and 260 are poisoned. It is the largest reported fluoridation accident to date. Symptoms include “nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, headache, weakness, itching, numbness or tingling of an extremity, shortness of breath (and) fatigue.” (SOURCE: News Tribune 1992 | Gessner 1994)

FEBRUARY 1992 — Rice Lake, Wisconsin: Residents vomiting. Centers for Disease Control state that 150 water consumers potentially at risk. A pump feed thought to have lasted for two days leads to fluoride levels as high as 20 ppm. The Wisconsin State Dental Director states, “To be harmful, exposure would have to have been about 225 ppm.” This statement is incorrect, as serious adverse symptoms have been reported as low as 50 ppm, and death has occurred at 150 ppm. (SOURCE: Carton 1994)

JULY 1991 — Portage, Michigan: Approximately 40 children develop abdominal pains, sickness, vomiting and diarrhea at an arts and crafts show at school. One of the city’s fluoride injector pumps failed. Fluoride levels not determined at the time, but later test at 92 ppm. (SOURCE: Carton 1994 | See study discussing this accident)

OCTOBER 1990 — Westby, Wisconsin: Fluoride levels reach as high as 150 ppm after fluoridation malfunction. Four families suffer a week of diarrhea, upset stomach and burning throats. The water utility supervisor estimates the fluoride level to be ten times normal since it had burned his mouth. The elevated fluoride levels corrode the copper off the pipes in area homes, producing copper concentrations 70 times higher than the EPA recommended limit. (SOURCE: Carton 1994)

MARCH 1986 – New Haven, Connecticut – Of the 312 persons interviewed four days after the accident, in the 127 households at risk, 18% report symptoms of abdominal cramping, nausea, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, diaphoresis (profuse sweating), and fever. Others experience rashes and irritation from bathing and washing dishes. The fluoride levels peak at 51 ppm. (SOURCE: Carton 1994 | See study discussing this accident)

OCTOBER 1981 – Jonesboro, Maine – 57 students, teachers and principal are taken to hospital after an accident with school fluoridation equipment. 38 are administered regurgitants to make them vomit the fluoride, and milk to counteract the poison. Two are admitted to the hospital for several hours for fast heartbeat. Other symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting. On December 1, 1981, Jonesboro citizens vote 43-2 not to reinstate fluoridation at the school, and to charge the Dept. of Human Services for the emergency room bill of $1,137.24. (SOURCE: Bevis 1981 | The Maine Paper 1981 )

AUGUST 1980 – Vermont – Accident with school water fluoridation equipment leads to fluoride levels as high as 1,041 ppm and causes an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness, headache, dizziness, and diarrhea at a farmers market. (SOURCE: Vogt 1982)

NOVEMBER 1979 – Annapolis, Maryland – Operator fails to close valve of fluoride container; causing 1,000 gallons of fluoride to be dumped into the water supply. 1 dialysis patient dies, 1 suffers a heart attack, 1 develops long-term brain damage, while others experience nausea, hypotension (low blood pressure), chest pain or pressure, diarrhea, itching, flushing, vomiting (blood tinged), weakness, dyspnea (breathing difficulty), profuse sweating, shakiness, localized numbness, abdominal cramping, and headache. Others not on dialysis experience nausea, headache, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and dizziness. Pepsi Cola files suit for $1.6 million for damage to product, while a surviving dialysis patient with resulting brain damage sues for $210 million. (SOURCE: Bevis 1981 | Evening Capital 1982)

MAY 1979 – Island Falls, Maine – Fluoride machine allows extra fluoride into water system while motor head is being changed. “The exact water fluoride level was not ascertained although a water sample at a manufacturing plant was greater than 10 ppm.” 5 people suffer gastrointestinal illness.” (SOURCE: Bevis 1981)

NOVEMBER 1978 – Los Lunas, New Mexico – Faulty electric relay switch causes concentrated fluoride to be pumped into water system. 34 people experience acute fluoride poisoning. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, muscle twitching and excess salivation. (SOURCE: Bevis 1981 | Hoffman 1980)

NOVEMBER 1977 – Harbor Springs, Michigan – A tree cut down by a contractor falls on power lines controlling the water department’s electrical signal lines… Approximately 189 lbs. of fluoride is accidentally pumped into the city’s water system.. Four people experience nausea or vomiting and weakness. Had it not been an off-season for this resort town more could have been poisoned. (SOURCE: Bevis 1981)

APRIL 1974 – Manly County, North Carolina – Fluoride feeder pump malfunctions, causing the fluoride solution to be fed into the water system continuously while water pump is not operating. 213 individuals experience nausea after drinking orange juice mixed with water. 201 students and 7 adults vomit. (SOURCE: Bevis 1981)

JUNE 1972 – Northeast Bradford Elementary School, Rome Pennsylvania – Records show fluoride at 48 ppm in water and 230 ppm in coffee. 150 students attending a school picnic vomit after drinking orange juice made with the water. (SOURCE: Bevis 1981)

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