Fluoride Action Network

Middletown Maryland Latest City to Receive Toxic Spill of Fluoride in their Drinking Water

The Townsend Letter for Doctors | By Robert Carton, PhD | October 1994

Middletown Maryland Latest City to Receive Toxic Spill of Fluoride in their Drinking Water

Report by Robert Carton, Ph.D., & The Truth About Fluoride, Inc.

Officials of Middletown, MD warned residents by radio in November, 1993 not to drink or cook with city water due to high fluoride levels. Malfunctioning fluoridation equipment caused excessive fluoride levels of 70 parts per million (ppm) in the distribution system. This is 70 times the normal level and almost 18 times the level considered safe by EPA. The Maryland State Department of Health stated that they did not plan to do a health survey to determine if any residents experienced symptoms of fluoride poisoning.

Based on other fluoridation accidents, the 70 ppm of fluoride is sufficient to cause vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, fever, and other effects. In 1986, a fluoridation accident in New Haven (North Brantford), Connecticut, resulted in the public receiving water with 51 ppm fluoride for twelve hours. A health survey, conducted four days later on 312 persons, determined that 55 of those experienced symptoms of fluoride poisoning which lasted from 1-60 hours.

Robert Carton, Ph.D., local scientist and editor of the newsletter The Fluoride Report, stated that “Quick action by Middletown authorities may have prevented a public health disaster.” Dr. Carton referred to an accident that occurred last year in Hooper Bay, Alaska where 260 were poisoned and one man died. Levels of fluoride in Hooper Bay drinking water were thought to have been 150 ppm or less.

Middletown and state workers stayed up all night flushing out the distribution system. Although the town was warned by radio not to drink the water, many residents did not become aware of the problem until they read their morning paper, or talked to neighbors. Town and state officials had considered calling out the National Guard to go door to door to warn residents of the high fluoride levels. However, Louise Snodgrass, Middletown official, stated that this action was not taken due to concern this step would frighten citizens unnecessarily. The Frederick Post reported that Middletown water is again safe. Fluoridation has not been reinstituted.

Dr. Carton also pointed out that toxic spills of fluoride in drinking water are never publicized by fluoridation promotion agencies, the Public Health Service, the National Institute for Dental Research, and the Center for Disease Control. The following is a partial list of known fluoridation accidents never publicized with a national press release which would alert city councils and the public of the inherent risk in fluoridation:

*August 1993 — Poplarville, Miss: 40 persons poisoned; 15 sought treatment at hospital. Pizza Inn manager was the first to notify city officials after several customers became ill.

*August 1993 — Galesburg, Illinois: Tank truck delivering fluoride to water treatment plant leaked 15-20 gallons on city street. Streets barricaded until fire department’s hazardous materials unit could clean up the spill.

*July 1993 — Chicago, Illinois: 3 dialysis patients died; five additional patients allergic (toxic) reaction. Centers for Disease Control were called in to investigate, but no details have received a nationwide press release. (Read Chicago Sun-Times article about this accident).

*May 1993 — Kodiak, Alaska (Old Harbor): Residents were warned by phone and public radio of high fluoride levels. Officials warned that the more water consumed with elevated fluoride, the worse the danger becomes, and that boiling water could concentrate the fluoride even further. Boiling water in preparing foods always concentrates the fluoride even with 1.0 ppm. The fluoridation equipment appeared to be operating normally; 22-24 ppm fluoride was found when a monthly sample was sent to the Public Health Service lab in Kodiak. Bruce Erickson, DEC environmental manager, said these levels could indicate higher levels were in the system.

*January 1993 — Sarnia, Ontario: Fluoride at 13 ppm Mayor and public notified after the fact. Sarnia Mayor Bradley stated that the public should have been notified in time so people could choose whether to drink the water or not. And, that those responsible for fluoridating, “shouldn’t be investigating itself.” The fluoridating computer-controlled system had failed to shut down.

*July 1992 — Marin County, California: Due to a pump malfunction allowing too much fluoride in the Bon Tempe treatment, 2 million gallons of fluoridated were diverted to Phoenix Lake, elevating the lake surface by more than two inches forcing some water over the spillway.

*June 1992 — Danvers, Illinois: Fluoride pump malfunctioned; level of fluoride not stated in local paper, but warning must have been given. After flushing the water through fire hydrants, the Illinois EPA allowed the city to lift the warning.

*May 1992 — Hooper Bay, Alaska: One death, 260 poisoned; one airlifted to hospital in critical condition. It was first speculated that the residents had a “flu virus.” Alaska state health officials stated the fluoridation accident was due to poor equipment and lack of a qualified operator. However, accidents have occurred with “state-of-the-art” equipment and the highest qualified water operators. The widow of the deceased is suing the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation for $3 million, charging negligence for not warning villagers of the high fluoride levels. (Read Morning News Tribune article about this accident.)

*February 1992 — Rice Lake, Wisconsin: Residents vomiting: Centers for Disease Control stated that 150 water consumers potentially at risk. Pump overfed fluoride for two days, thought to have reached 20 ppm. In a domino effect, high winds caused volt lines to connect, causing conductors to burn to ground and a jumper to fail, resulting in failure of the anti-siphoning device, causing fluoride to pour through the pipes. The Wisconsin State Dental Director, stated, “To be harmful, exposure would have to have been about 225 ppm.” This statement cannot be substantiated in any publications documenting the toxicity of fluoride.

*December 1991 — Benton Harbor, Michigan: Faulty pump allowed approximately 900 gallons of hydrofluosilicic acid to leak into a chemical storage building at the water plant. City Engineer Roland Klockow stated, “the concentrated hydrofluosilicic acid is so corrosive that it ate through more than two inches of concrete in the storage building.” This water did not reach water consumers, but fluoridation was stopped until June 1993. The original equipment was only two years old; Mr. Klockow had hoped to recover the cost of the pump and repair costs to the building.

*September 1991 — Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Fluoride diffuser problems in six machines. Leak of seven liters (quarts) of fluoride sent two water treatment personnel to the hospital for oxygen after breathing the fluoride fumes. Gary Lamb, engineer, stated that “This product is an acid so we can’t put it through a steel pipe because it corrodes, but plastic isn’t strong enough.”

*September 1991 — Burlington, North Carolina: 4,000 gallons of a 6,000 gallon fiberglass fluoride tank ruptured. Water plant workers wearing special suits contained the spill to the water treatment plant. Replacement tank was expected to cost $15,000.

*July 1991 — Portage, Michigan: Approximately 40 children with 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 tested at 92 ppm. (See study about accident)

*November 1990 — St. Louis, Missouri: 500 gallons of hydrofluosilicic acid leaked from a ruptured pipe at the St. Louis County water works plant. About 12 employees were evacuated. Fireman built sand dikes around the leak, added lime to the spilled fluoride to neutralize it, and plugged the pipe.

*October 1990 — Westby, Wisconsin: Four families suffered a week of diarrhea, upset stomach and burning throats. Fluoride equipment malfunctioned, causing the fluoride to surge to 150 ppm. The water utility supervisor said he had expected the fluoride to be ten times normal since it had burned his mouth. The fluoride corroded the copper off the pipes in area homes, 70 times higher than the EPA recommended limit. Westby Council stopped fluoridating.

*January 1988 — Schenectady, New York: Spill of 2,000 gallons of fluoride completely destroyed the fluoridation facility. Over $48,000 spent to clean up the spill and dispose of fluoride in approved dump site. It was estimated that the cost to replace the facility would be $261,000.

*March 1986 — New Haven (No Branford) Connecticut: Of the 312 persons interviewed four days after the accident, in the 127 households at risk, 18% had symptoms of abdominal cramping, nausea, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, diaphoresis (profuse sweating), and fever. This did not include those with rashes and irritation from bathing and washing dishes. The fluoride peaked at 51 ppm. The acidic fluoride leached copper; the Connecticut State Dental Director chastised water department personnel for not recognizing immediately that public complaints were due to fluoride and not copper. This accident was finally reported two years later in the American Journal of Public Health, June 1988 where it would not have received public notice to alert other states.

*November 1979 — Annapolis, Maryland: (Read Newspaper article on this incident) One death in a dialysis patient; other dialysis patients suffered a cardiac arrest (resuscitated), nausea, hypotension, chest pain, diarrhea, itching, flushing vomiting (blood tinged), difficulty breathing, profuse sweating, weakness, numbness, and stomach cramping. Water consumers not on dialysis also reported nausea, headache, cramps, diarrhea and dizziness.

The Evening Capital reported in October 1982 that the wife of the dialysis patient who was brain-injured had sued the City of Annapolis for $480 million; this was settled out of court in 1985. Other patients also sued. Pepsi Cola sued for $1.6 million for damage to product. Waterworks personnel were also sued, demoted, and had payroll deductions.

The Baltimore Sun reported in a November 1979 story on the fluoridation accident that, “Even though state and county health officials learned of the spill nine days after it occurred, no public announcement was made and the City Council was not told of the situation for six more days…” And, quoted a County Health officer stating that the delay in notification was because “We didn’t want to jeopardize the fluoridation program…”

Ironic and tragic, again in Annapolis, the Evening Capitol reported on January 6, 1990 of the death of the executive director of the Association of Area Business Publications, and former Kentucky newspaper publisher. On July 27, 1989, he had asked for a glass of water in a drug store to take a penicillin tablet for a toothache. By mistake, he was given a glass of stannous fluoride. He immediately suffered a cardiac arrest and brain damage, going into a coma. On August 22, the family asked that life support systems be withdrawn.

Much of the information on toxic spills of fluoride that does reach the public is incomplete and inaccurate. In the November issue of Opflow, an American Water Works Association publication for water operators, only seven fluoridation accidents were listed as occurring from 1976-1992. The population at risk for the Annapolis spill is listed as “8” when, in fact, thousands were at risk. Unless a death occurs, Tom Reeves, National Fluoridation Engineer, Centers for Disease Control, refers to fluoridation accidents as “overfeeds,” and has stated that water consumers “cure themselves by vomiting” during fluoridation accidents.

The toxicity and corrosiveness of fluoride compounds the risk of fluoridation equipment malfunction and operator error for all fluoridated water systems.