HANOVER, New Hampshire, March 20, 2001 (ENS) – A research team led by Dartmouth College professor Roger Masters charges that fluoridated drinking water is linked to higher blood levels of lead in children.
Sodium fluoride, first added to public drinking water in 1945, is now used in less than 10 percent of fluoridation systems nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) 1992 Fluoridation Census. Instead, sodium silicofluoride or fluosilicic acid, known as silicofluorides (SiFs), are now used to treat drinking water delivered to 140 million people.
While sodium fluoride was tested on animals and approved for human consumption, the same cannot be said for SiFs, Masters said.
Masters and his collaborators have now studied the blood lead levels in over 400,000 children in three different samples. In each case, they found a link between SiF treated water and elevated blood lead levels.
“We should stop using silicofluorides in our public water supply until we know what they do,” said Masters.
Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have told Masters that the EPA has no information on health effects of chronic ingestion of SiF treated water.
In their latest study, published in a special December 2000 issue of “NeuroToxicology,” the team analyzed data on blood levels from more than 150,000 children up to age six. Socio-economic and demographic risk factors for high blood lead were also considered using information from the 1990 U.S. Census.
The researchers found that the greatest likelihood of children having elevated blood lead levels occurs when they are exposed both to known risk factors, such as old house paint and lead in soil or water, and to SiF treated drinking water.
“Our research needs further laboratory testing,” added Masters. “This should have the highest priority because our preliminary findings show correlations between SiF use and more behavior problems due to known effects of lead on brain chemistry.”
“We need a better understanding of how SiFs behave chemically and physiologically,” Masters concluded. “If further research confirms our findings, this may well be the worst environmental poison since leaded gasoline.”