Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride is safe in your toothpaste and drinking water, experts say – PolitiFact

Source: PolitiFact by the Poynter Institute | July 13th, 2022 | By Jeff Cercone
Industry type: Misinformation
Note from Fluoride Action Network:
We classified this article as misinformation as it is a one-sided look at this issue, taking the claims of fluoridation promoters at face value. This article presents no discussion of the neurotoxicity of fluoride at levels added to drinking water in fluoridation schemes (Green et al., 2019 and Till et al. 2020) and no mention of the Mother-Offspring fluoride studies. (EC)
Facebook posts stated on June 24, 2022 in a Facebook post:

Fluoride will eat a hole through concrete, so it’s not safe for your teeth.

If Your Time is short

  • Hydrofluorosilicic acid is an additive used to fluoridate community water supplies in the U.S.
  • Like many chemicals, it is caustic in its concentrated form. But it’s diluted in water treatment plants to produce a safe amount of fluoride in drinking water.
  • Toothpastes made by Colgate and other companies use different fluoride compounds, typically stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate.

Can a substance that requires crews to wear hazardous materials gear to clean it up after a spill be safe to drink or use to brush your teeth?Well, yes, experts told PolitiFact as we checked a claim about the safety of fluoride, a subject of misinformation we’ve tackled several times over the years.”Fluoride exposed,” reads the caption on a Facebook reel posted on June 24, 2022. The video’s narrator said he’s heard a lot about fluoride safety, so he went to the website of Colgate, the maker of toothpaste and other consumer hygiene products. He sarcastically highlighted the site’s claim that fluoride is “safe and effective.””Now when this very safe chemical spills, this is who comes to clean it up,” the narrator said, showing an image of workers in hazmat suits cleaning up what he said was a spill in Ohio. He said the chemical “will literally eat a hole through a road if it’s spilled on, but it’s for your teeth,” implying that it’s not safe to use.The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)A reverse image search shows that the images of crews in hazmat gear o are from a 2011 video report from WQAD — an ABC TV station in Moline, Illinois — about a spill of hydrofluorosilicic acid in nearby Rock Island (not in Ohio, as the video claims). An article on that station’s website said the chemical leaked from a tanker truck at a water treatment plant, where it was being used to add fluoride to the plant’s water supply.A fire official in the report described the chemical as a “corrosive agent,” and the article said it had begun eating through concrete before crews safely contained the spill.The claim that because the chemical that spilled is corrosive, it’s not safe in your toothpaste is wrong on a couple of points, experts told PolitiFact. It misunderstands both the process used to fluoridate drinking water and what type of fluoride is in your toothpaste.

“??This type of misleading information is commonly spread by fluoridation opponents who have little or no understanding of the science of water fluoridation,” said Steven Slott, a spokesperson for the American Fluoridation Society, a group promoting community water fluoridation.

First, the hydrofluorosilicic acid, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is one of three types of fluoride additives used in U.S. water supplies, arrives at water treatment plants in concentrated form.

Like any chemical, hydrofluorosilicic acid can be dangerous to people who come into contact with it, such as in the spill referenced in the video, experts said. But water treatment plants are equipped to handle such chemicals, and the additives are then diluted to safe levels in the water supply.

“One drop of that fluoride additive in its concentrated form is diluted by 250,000 drops of water. The resultant fluoride concentrations delivered to homes and businesses for the community is at a concentration that is at 0.7 parts per million,” said Dr. Howard Pollick, a spokesperson on fluoridation for the American Dental Association. Pollick is also a consultant on fluoridation for the California Department of Public Health and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry.

“This has been established as the effective and safe concentration of fluoride in drinking water to help prevent tooth decay, which can be a very serious disease if it’s not prevented or taken care of,” Pollick said.

Our Sources

Facebook post, June 24, 2022WQAD.com, “Hazmat crews respond to chemical spill at Rock Island water treatment plant,” archived, March 24, 2011WaterLoo Watch video, YouTube, “Rock Island Illinois Hydrofluorosilicic Acid Spill & Clean-up WQASD News 24-Mar-11“Phone interview with Dr. Howard Pollick, spokesperson on fluoridation for the American Dental Association, fluoridation consultant for the California Dept. of Public Health and professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry, July 12, 2022

Email interview with Steven Slott, a spokesperson for the American Fluoridation Society, July 12, 2022

American Dental Association, “Fluoridation FAQs,” accessed July 11, 2022

American Fluoridation Society, “Fluoridation facts,” accessed July 11, 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “About Fluoride,” accessed July 11, 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Water Fluoridation Additives,” accessed July 11, 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Other fluoride products,” accessed July 11, 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Over 75 Years of Community Water Fluoridation,” accessed July 11, 2022

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, “Fluoride,” accessed July 11, 2022

Colgate, “ Can You Have Too Much Fluoride? Get The Facts,” accessed July 11, 2022

Colgate, “Learn more about what’s in our products,” accessed July 11, 2022

PolyProcessing, “Designing Proper Hydrofluorosilicic Acid Storage,” accessed July 12, 2022

*Original article online at