EVENING CAPITAL (Annapolis, Maryland)
November 29, 1979
Fluoride Linked to Death
by Mary Ann Kryzankowicz
Fluoride poisoning has been definitely linked to the death of a 65-year-old kidney dialysis patient who became ill during a blood cleaning process Nov 11.
State Medical Examiner Dr. (illegible) Guard has ruled that Lawrence Blake, 65, of Arundel Road, suffered a toxic reaction leading to cardiac arrest. Excessive levels of fluoride were found in Blake’s body during an autopsy.
Blake was one of eight patients who became ill during the renal dialysis process at the Bio-medical Applications Inc. center on Forest Drive Nov. 13.
In addition, state health department authorities said at a press conference to Baltimore yesterday that tests conducted on the other seven patients also showed high levels of fluoride in their bodies.
One of the seven surviving patients, Donald Konrad of Pasadena, is in stable condition at Johns Hopkins University today. Another of the patients who suffered minor symptoms during the dialysis treatment, is at Arundel General Hospital where he is being treated for an unrelated medical problem.
State authorities said yesterday that the accidental spill of 1,000 gallons of fluoride into the city’s drinking water supply probably would have gone undetected if the kidney patients had not become ill.
The effects of the fluoride overdose is unprecedented because spills have never occurred in a city where a dialysis center is located.
The spill occurred Nov. 11 when a worker at the city’s water filtration plant inadvertently left a central valve open for 11 hours, allowing 10 times the normal amount of fluoride to escape into the water supply. The accident was discovered Nov. 12 but state authorities were not notified.
When public works personnel first noticed an increase in the acid level of the water after the spill, lime was dumped into the system to neutralize the water as proscribed by normal procedures.
Public Works Director Joseph Axelrod said the lime was introduced to combat the high acidic levels caused by the high amounts of fluoride while the plant personnel were tracking down the cause of the problem.
However, he said, none of the lime escapes into the drinking water. It settles in storage tanks, he said, and is eventually removed with other sediment.
If the lime, which Thomas Crabtree, the plant superintendent, said did return the water to a more neutral state, had escaped into the drinking water, it would have presented no dangers to residents, health department officials said.
Axelrod and Crabtree were unable to say how much lime was put into the water.
Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the health department must be notified within 48 hours of any incident that…
EVENING CAPITAL (Annapolis, Maryland)
October 30, 1982
City sued in fluoride spill
by Mary Ann Kryzanowicz
A $480-million lawsuit has been filed against the City of Annapolis, three water treatment plant employees and the designers of a fluoridation system blamed for the November 1979 poisonings of kidney dialysis patients.
The lawsuit is believed to be the largest claim ever filed against the city.
Donald C. Konrad, allegedly brain-damaged after receiving a dialysis treatment with fluoride contaminated water, and his wife Jacquelyn, of 218 Atlanta Road, Riviera Beach, are seeking damages from the mayor and aldermen, water treatment plant employee Robert Moccia, supervisor Thomas Crabtree, and former Deputy Public Works Engineer John Eick; and seven persons from Whitman Requardt and Associates, the Baltimore firm that designed and approved plans for the fluoridation system.
The lawsuit contains 32 separate counts, seeking $60 million from each of the employees, $90 million from Whitman Requardt, and $210 million from the mayor and aldermen.
City attorney Frederick Sussman said the lawsuit was not a surprise to city officials, although they have not yet received copies of the lawsuit.
“I’m not surprised,” Sussman said. “We’ve been waiting for it. As far as the amount is concerned, anybody can sue for anything. It doesn’t mean they’ll get it.”
The Konrad’s lawyer, Joel L. Katz, had notified the city in December 1979 that the couple would file a lawsuit. Litigants are required to notify municipalities within 180 days of the incident that they intend to sue, but the actual lawsuit can be filed at any time within the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for fluoride-related claims expires Nov. 11. Sussman said no other claims are expected.
He said the lawsuit will be forwarded to the city’s insurance carrier attorneys.
The city will go to court in April on a $1.5 million claim filed by the widow of Lawrence Blake, an elderly dialysis patient who died as a result of fluoride poisoning.
About 1,000 gallons of fluoride enterred the city’s water supply when Moccia inadvertently left open a control valve. He was demoted after the incident, and Crabtree and Eick took payroll reductions for allegedly failing to notify authorities of the spill.
The Konrads claim in the lawsuit that the defendants discovered the high concentration of fluoride but failed to take “corrective action” or warn superiors and consumers that the city water supply was contaminated.
The lawsuit claims Eick knew of the spill on Nov. 13, but did not notify his superiors until Nov. 21.
Eight patients receiving blood-cleansing treatments at Bio-Medical Applications on Forest Drive became ill during the treatments Nov. 13. Konrad suffered “cardiac arrest, fluoride poisoning, brain damage and other serious, painful and permanent injuries,” the lawsuit states.
The Konrads claim the city “carelessly, recklessly and negligently employed Moccia, Crabtree and Eick (knowing) they lacked the background, training, experience and judgment to perform the duties and functions for which they were employeed… in an emergency situation…” They also charge the city failed to properly train and supervise the employees.
The lawsuit also claims the city violated implied warranties that the water supply was safe and fit for consumption.
The Konrads also charge that the city and its water treatment plant employees were liable for actions constituting “an offensive, unhealthy, hazardous and dangerous nuisance that persisted over the course of several days…”
Whitman Requardt and Associates, a Baltimore engineering firm and seven employees are named as defendants in the lawsuit because they “designed, prepared, developed, analyzed, recommended and approved designs… for construction work and/or improvements and modifications to the plant.” The firm and the individuals are charged in the lawsuit with negligence in designing and approving a system that permitted treated water to enter the city supply “without any method or means of testing or determining whether the water (in recycling tanks) contained impurities, contaminants or other hazardous and dangerous substances.”
The lawsuit charges the engineering firm “failed to perform the work according to sound engineering principles and with reasonable care, skill and diligence…” The Konrads claim the firm also failed to meet the terms of an agreement for “correcting and abating an existing unhealthy and unsanitary pollution conditions resulting from the drainage of backwash water into a natural creek that threatened the health and welfare of the public.”
The city also is charged in the lawsuit with failing to adopt policies and procedures for notifying the public of the danger due to water contamination or other incidents that pose a health hazard.