This summer, newspapers in northern Ohio have often reported microcystin contamination in our precious Lake Erie. Microcystin, released by blue-green algae, is a liver toxin. Our water is being monitored. If the microcystin concentrations reach only 0.3 ppb (parts per billion) in our tap water, “Do not drink” warnings will be issued for “pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children, and people with impaired kidney function on dialysis.”
The Material Safety Data Sheet for microcystin LR, a white powder, issued by Beagle Bioproducts Inc., reports that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)’s health hazard rating for this chemical is a “4,” which means “dangerous.”
Based on the reported harms of microcystin, the U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency has issued a margin of safety factor of 1,000 to protect us. (The margin of safety for a toxin is defined as the dose or concentration that causes harm divided by the maximum dose or concentration that one is allowed to consume.)
Now let’s compare microcystin with fluoride, intentionally added to Cleveland’s tap water because of an obsolete 20th-century Ohio law. One fluoride-containing chemical — collected from phosphate fertilizer factories’ scrubbing systems and subsequently added to Cleveland’s drinking water — is silicon tetrafluoride. The Material Safety Data Sheet, issued by Voltaix, states that the gas silicon tetrafluoride’s NFPA health hazard rating is a “4,” identical to that of microcystin. This MSDS also states that silicon tetrafluoride reacts with water “to form other corrosive, toxic substances.” Linde Gas’ Material Safety Data Sheet for silicon tetrafluoride, a compressed gas, concludes it is corrosive to all living tissue.
Fluoride has been labeled a developmental neurotoxin, as supported by substantial evidence.
Time Magazine, in its April 10, 2010, issue, included fluoride in its “Top Ten Common Household Toxins.” Chinese scientists warn pregnant women about the neurological harms of fluoride to the unborn. Worldwide, 44 studies currently have demonstrated that modest amounts of ingested fluoride result in a significant lowering of children’s IQ’s.
A 2012 Harvard meta-analysis (a study of many studies) found an average seven-point IQ loss in children consuming high levels of fluoride. Most of the children studied lived in China.
The National Research Council’s 2006 Report “Fluoride in Drinking Water” cautioned: “fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain” and recommended that the EPA reduce its allowed maximum contaminant level for fluoride in drinking water. In response, the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services in 2011 proposed a recommended 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water in place of the prior recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.
It is not surprising that billboards in Washington State now warn parents about fluoride’s neurotoxicity to children.
Infant warnings also have been issued on water bills in some U.S. cities regarding dental fluorosis. Communities in Finland stopped water fluoridation in 1993. The National Kidney Foundation no longer takes a position on fluoridation of drinking water.
The EPA has not applied margin of safety factors to any of the 21st-century reported harms caused by fluoride nor has it reduced the maximum contaminant level for fluoride in drinking water.
Compared to its action regarding microcystin, why is the EPA inconsistent when addressing the harms from fluoride? The amount of fluoride our children consume from Cleveland’s tap water, plus all other sources, approaches amounts associated with the average seven-point IQ loss noted in Harvard’s 2012 meta-analysis. Almost no protective margin of safety exists in our present environment preventing children’s IQ loss associated with high levels of fluoride. This is reckless and unacceptable disregard for our children’s health.
According to the city of Cleveland’s 2014 Annual Water Quality Report, Cleveland’s tap water contained an average fluoride concentration of 1.2 parts per million. That’s 4,000 times more fluoride concentration than allowed by the EPA for microcystin levels in drinking water for vulnerable populations (0.3 parts per billion) such as very young children, in spite of similar health hazard warnings. What’s worse — a liver toxin or a neurotoxin?
Ohio’s citizens deserve to know the solid science continuing to mount against water fluoridation. Our obsolete Ohio fluoridation law, mandating excessive fluoride concentrations, deserves urgent attention, legislative review, and repeal.
Ron Greinke of Medina is a retired Ph.D research chemist who was a corporate fellow for a local company and received the Pergamon Press Prize for one of his peer-reviewed publications. He is a member of the Fluoride Action Network.