Fluoride Action Network

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Sources of Fluoride

"Estimation of the amount of fluoride ingested from all environmental and dietary sources is important so that rational and scientifically sound decisions can be made when guidelines for the use of fluorides are reviewed periodically and modified." (Journal of Dental Research 1992)

Pesticides

Due to its high toxicity, fluoride has long been used as a pesticide. In the United States, there are currently two fluoride-based pesticides that are allowed to be sprayed on food. These are: cryolite and sulfuryl fluoride.

5 Facts About Fluoride Exposure from Cryolite

1) The main way people are exposed to fluoride from the pesticide cryolite is through consumption of grape products, particularly white grapes, grown in the U.S. This is because cryolite use is widespread among U.S. vinyards.

2) According to data from the USDA (2005), the average fluoride levels in grape products are as follows:

  • White grape juice = 2.13 ppm
  • White wine = 2.02 ppm 
  • Red wine = 1.05 ppm
  • Raisins = 2.34 ppm

3) Many juice drinks that are not labeled as “grape juice” use grape juice as a filler ingredient. The use of cryolite thus contaminates many juices with fluoride.

4) Cryolite is also allowed to be added to the following products (although it is unclear how many producers actually do so, and what the resulting fluoride levels are):

  • Apricot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprout, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Citrus fruit, Collards, Eggplant, Kale, Kiwifruit, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Melon, Nectarine, Peach, Pepper, Plum, Pumpkin, Squash (summer & winter), Tomato, and a number of Berries (Blackberry, Blueberry (huckleberry) Boysenberry, Cranberry, Dewberry, Loganberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Youngberry).

5) The key way to avoid exposure to fluoride from cryolite is to avoid buying non-organic grape products, particularly beverages made out of white grapes.

10 Facts About Fluoride Exposure from Sulfuryl Fluoride

In 2005, the U.S. EPA granted a request from Dow AgroSciences to use sulfuryl fluoride as a fumigant in food-processing facilities as a means of killing bugs, rodents, and reptiles. Although EPA granted FAN’s request in January 2011 to rescind its approval of Dow’s request, this is currently being challenged by the agribusiness industry. Thus, as it currently stands, sulfuryl fluoride is still being sprayed on food products made in the U.S.

The EPA allows sulfuryl fluoride as both a fumigant of food-processing facilities (while food is still on the premises) and as a direct fumigant of food. Both forms of fumigation result in the contamination of food with fluoride. Here’s what you need to know about both:

Fumigation of Food Processing Facilities

1) Structural fumigation is done for the purpose of killing pests in the facility where the food is stored. It usually is performed twice a year in a given facility.

2) Unlike virtually every other western country, the EPA does not require that food processors remove food prior to the fumigation. As a result, any food that is being stored in the facility during a structural fumigation will be contaminated with fluoride.

3) The level of fluoride contamination that EPA allows for wheat flour (125 ppm) and dried eggs (900 ppm)  is sufficient to cause symptoms of acute fluoride toxicity (e.g., nausea, vomiting, etc) in children.

4) Although less than 0.1% of wheat flour and dried eggs will be contaminated with sulfuryl fluoride (due to the infrequency of structural fumigations), several hundred, if not thousands, of children will be exposed each years to doses of fluoride from these products that can induce temporary food poisoning-type symptoms. No other country allows this.

5) There are hundreds of other food products that EPA allows to be contaminated with sulfuryl fluoride.

Direct Fumigation of Food

6) The EPA also allows food processors to use sulfuryl fluoride as a direct fumigant of certain foods. This means that food processors can purposely spray sulfuryl fluoride directly onto certain foods.

7) Unlike structural fumigation (which takes place once or twice a year), direct fumigation is a routinely performed procedure. Thus, foods that can be directly fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride will consistently have elevated fluoride levels.

8) According to EPA’s estimates, some of the foods that will be most commonly fumigated are cocoa powder, dried beans, walnuts and dried fruits.

9)  EPA estimates that, if the current regulations are not rescinded, 100% of cocoa powder, 100% of dried beans, 99% of walnuts, 69% of dried fruits, 10% of walnuts, 10% of tree nuts, and 3% of rice will be fumigated.

10) When fumigated the average fluoride levels in fumigated food is:

  • Brown rice = 12.5 ppm
  • Cocoa powder = 8.4 ppm
  • Almonds = 5.3 ppm
  • Tree nuts = 5.3 ppm
  • Dried beans = 4.5 ppm
  • White rice = 4.5 ppm
  • Walnuts = 2.4 ppm
  • Dried fruits = 1 ppm

Further Information:

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