Over the past few months there has been an increasing number of questions put forth to the public health community concerning fluosilicic acid. Fluosilicic acid is the substance derived from the pollution scrubbing devices of the superphosphate fertilizer industry, 70 to 75% of which comes from the Cargill fertilizer corporation. But what, one might ask, does this fluosilicic acid have to do with public health?
Fluosilicic acid, which is a classified hazardous waste, is the substance used in 90% of the water fluoridation programs in the United States.
This fact has raised concern amongst health risk assessment scientists at the EPA who have helped draw attention to the fact that the only other place this fluosilicic acid can legally be disposed of is in a hazardous waste facility. As Dr. William Hirzy, Senior Vice President of the EPA’s Professionals Headquarters Union, put it, “if this stuff gets out into the air, it?s a pollutant; if it gets into the river, it?s a pollutant; if it gets into the lake, it?s a pollutant; but if it goes right straight into your drinking water system, it?s not a pollutant. That?s amazing!” (1).
Amazing, but true.
Due to the obviously intriguing aspect of this “waste disposal policy”, there has naturally been quite a bit of curiosity concerning the safety of this public health practice. Apparently, however, there are no government safety studies currently available on fluosilicic acid. This is because the government is basing their fluoridation policy on the assumption that there is no chemical difference, after dilution into the water supply, between pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride and the industrial grade hydrofluosilicic acid.
However, results from a recent study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies, does not support this assumption. The authors found significantly higher lead levels in the blood of children living in communities where fluosilicic acid was added to the water (2).
Along with the possibility that children ingesting fluosilicic acid may be absorbing more lead, one other troubling aspect of the fluosilicic acid issue has been the unwillingness of the public health pro-fluoridation community to openly discuss it.
Jane Jones, Campaign Organizer for England’s National Pure Water Association, has written several letters to no avail to Dr. Michael Easley, Director, National Center for Fluoridation Policy and Research; Thomas Reeves, National Fluoridation Engineer for the CDC; and Dr G. Pakhomov, Responsible Officer of the World Health Organization’s Oral Health Programme. In her letters, Jones asked for responses to the following two questions.
1) Would you agree that the ‘fluoride’ used in drinking water fluoridation schemes is liquor scrubbed from the chimney stacks of the phosphate fertiliser industry – pollution – as stated hereunder? If you do not agree, will you please tell me what you think the substance is and describe the exact method of its production?
2) What safety tests have been undertaken on the substance used to fluoridate drinking water? I will be glad to receive copies of any safety test data on this specific substance that you may have in your possession, or please tell me where I can obtain it.
However, after several months and repeated requests, Jones has not recieved any answers to either of her questions.
The lack of response to Jones’ request has created more interest among activists, in fluosilicic acid.
Recently, however, instead of ignoring the issue, the dental health community has become increasingly critical of those asking questions about it. When a Maryland citizen raised concerns about fluosilicic acid, he got this response from the Special Events Director, Dr. Teran Gall, of the California Dental Association (August 23, 00).
You haven’t a clue! You’re clearly a cultist disciple of some branch of the Flat Earth Society regurgitating guano fed to you by the ‘crackpots’…
Check out the haz-mat and EPA statements on chlorine, lye, sulfuric acid, diatomaceous earth, and about 20 other chemicals used in water treatment you buffoon.
Do you have an advanced science degree? A B.S. in chemistry is not much to tout.”
While proponents of fluoridation certainly have the right to believe that fluosilicic acid is perfectly safe for long term human consumption, it is the Fluoride Action Network’s position that they should back their belief up, not with denial and citizen intimidation, but with evidence-based reasoning. Considering that they are public health officials, this is particulary important.
However, the dental public health community seems to view such questions about fluosilicic acid, not as legitimate questions concerning public health policy, but as unacceptable affronts to a policy they enthusiastically endorse.
The most recent example of this rejection of citizen concern comes from Mark Greer (August 31, 00), an official from the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health. Greer got quite distraught by a recent question that asked what studies existed to prove that fluosilicic acid at 1 part per million in the water supply is safe. The question, put forth on a dental public health listserve, by Peter Meiers, got a quick reply from Greer who urged all fellow listserve members not to reply to Meiers’ request. Greer’s reasoning behind rejecting Meier’s request was that Meiers is an opponent of fluoridation, and thus he may use any responses to further his anti-fluoridation agenda.
What’s difficult to understand about Greer’s response, is that one would assume that it would be to Greer’s and other proponents’ advantage to respond to Meiers and provide him with a detailed response as to why there is no scientific reason to be concerned about fluosilicic acid. If Greer or others were to do this, then to what advantage would it be to Meiers to showcase their response?
If, for instance, the Fluoride Action Network received a question from the American Dental Association asking why we feel it is not wise policy to put fluosilicic acid in the water, we wouldn’t be disturbed by the idea that our response was going to fluoridation proponents. We would, instead, be encouraged that our concerns would get better distribution. Why Greer and his colleagues do not want to publicly distribute the rationale underpinning their support for adding an industrial waste product to the public water supply is disturbing. The lack of transparency here is an issue of concern.
As Meiers put it, “I just wanted to know whether people on the Dental Public Health Listserv, a communication forum of the American Association of Public Health Dentists (AAPHD), are aware of any studies attesting to the safety of fluosilicic acid as used for fluoridation of public drinking water. Instead of even a simple reply like ‘there are a lot’, or at least ‘there´s no report of harm from anywhere’, Greer sent a ‘CAUTION TO ALL !!!!!’, warning the listserv members of a ‘BLATANT ATTEMPT TO ABUSE THE LISTSERV AND ITS MEMBERS.'”
The Fluoride Action Network has reprinted the email exchange, to which Meiers’ refers, below.
1) Hirzy, William, J. Video interview with Michael Connett. July 3, 2000.
2) Masters, R.D. and Coplan, M. (1999). “Water treatment with Silicofluorides and Lead Toxicity” International Journal of Environmental Studies. September.
Subject: Fluosilicic acid
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 22:03:35 +0200
From: PMeiers@T-ONLINE.DE (Peter Meiers)
recently I run across a web article (forgot the URL again) claiming that no toxicological tests have ever been done on fluosilicic acid as used for water fluoridation. Do you possibly know any references to such studies, so this claim could be refuted?
Thank you in advance.
Above Message Sent By: PMeiers@t-online.de (Peter Meiers)
Subject: CAUTION TO ALL !!!!!! Re: Fluosilicic acid
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 16:42:05 -1000
From: “Mark H.K. Greer, DMD, MPH”
THIS IS A BLATANT ATTEMPT TO ABUSE THE LISTSERV AND IT’S MEMBERS. DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS REQUEST, AS IT WILL BE USED TO MISLEAD AND MISREPRESENT FACT…..IN YOUR GOOD NAME (emphasis in original).
THE NOTE COMES FROM A KNOWN FLUORIDE AND FLUORIDATION ANTAGONIST. INFILTRATION AND ABUSE OF OUR PROFESSIONAL LISTSERV ARE TYPICAL OF THE UNSCRUPULOUS PLOYS OF THOSE THAT STRIVE TO DENY THE COMMUNITY OF OPTIMAL ORAL HEALTH. YOU’LL FIND HIM LISTED AMONG THE FOUNDING MEMBERS OF THE “FLUORIDE ACTION NETWORK”. SEE HERE,
Subject: Re: CAUTION TO ALL !!!!!! Re: Fluosilicic acid
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 07:05:04 +0200
From: PMeiers@T-ONLINE.DE (Peter Meiers)
To: “Mark H.K. Greer, DMD, MPH”
you can see from my being listed there that I´m anti-F? Am I not also with the listserv?
Subject: GET A LIFE
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 08:28:17 -1000
From: “Mark H.K. Greer, DMD, MPH”
YOU ARE A FRAUD. Because you and your claims have neither integrity nor merit, you resort to skulking in the shadows, among the respectable members of a ListServ, in order to parasitize and abuse. In itself, your anti-social behavior and attempts to deceive demonstrate your character. GET A LIFE
Don’t bother responding, as this is the one and only response you’ll get from me.