To the editor:
The fluoride ion has earned several nicknames over the centuries. In the 18th century it was called “the Devil’s Poison,” because it sickened and killed insidiously and effectively. More recently, it’s been referred to as “Lucifer’s Gas” and the “Tiger of Chemistry” because of the devilish damage that mauled early research scientists.
In any form, fluorides and fluorine are aggressive and dangerous substances. However, they have proved very useful to industry.
We often hear about yet more water pollution cases involving cancers and other illnesses from PFAs or PFOs. The F stands for fluorine and it is used for manufacturing fire-fighting foam as well as Teflon and other non-stick surfaces.
Dr. William Rich wrote in Environment, Health and Safety: “Fluoride from any source has the same toxicity. All in all, fluoride from whatever source can be very dangerous.”
In other words, regardless of what other element fluorine compounds with, it is still a danger.
It quickly and dramatically became apparent that water used for kidney dialysis must be defluoridated in order not to cause violent deaths in patients.
We deceive ourselves if we think we’ve tamed this tiger. A 2016 study specifically mentions the sodium fluoride compound used by Gloucester, Rockport and Manchester. This study looked at data from 22 states between 2005 to 2010. Using sophisticated scientific analysis, researchers found that fluoridation predicts higher rates of Type 2 diabetes.
Another 2016 study finds an increase in diagnoses of Crohn’s and other bowel diseases after fluoridation in multiple communities. The latest thyroid studies advise using reverse osmosis to reduce fluoride in water.
Illnesses and deaths from fluoride might be slower and more subtle in the 21st century than in previous centuries, but the Tiger of Chemistry is loose on Cape Ann.