Fluoride Action Network

Sodium Fluoride used in Fluoridation is NOT Pharmaceutical Grade

Source: International Fluoride Information Network | August 19th, 2002

Dear All,

One of the downsides of stressing the dangers posed by untested silicofluorides used for fluoridating over 90% of the water systems fluoridated in the US, is the unintended implication, that perhaps the other agent used for fluoridating the other 10% of the systems is OK. This is not the case. This is stressed in a letter (see below) that Jane Jones, from the National Pure Water Association (UK), has sent to both IFIN and Dr. Roger Masters.

She rightfully points out that the sodium fluoride used (usually in communities less than 10,000) is not pharmaceutical grade.

If the sodium fluoride was pharmaceutical grade it would be prohibitively expensive – and thus would make nonsense of any claims of “cost effectiveness”, since you can only begin to make that argument if you are prepared to expose children and others to industrial grade chemicals. In the usual “cost-benefit” analysis (which ignores many other critical arguments, including the costs of treating dental fluorosis) the costs of using industrial grade fluoride containing chemicals are compared to the costs of supplements, toothpaste, topical treatments with gels, etc., all of which use expensive pharmaceutical grade chemicals. My response to these misleading cost analyses is simply that, of course it’s cheap to dump industrial waste into your drinking water if you are prepared to do this. Those communities that do this are only able to get away with it because most citizens and officials don’t know the source of the chemicals being used. They don’t know that they are obtained from the scrubbing system of the phosphate fertilizer industry. The phosphate fertilizer industry would probably be prepared to give the stuff away if there was anyone daft enough to put it into their drinking water! This would still be far cheaper than having to reprocess it for industrial feedstock (e.g. Calcium fluoride) or send it away to hazardous waste facilities.

Moreover, Jane points out that this “industrial grade” sodium fluoride has never been tested in toxicilogical studies. Scientists always use pharmaceutical grade stuff for those.

I would also add, that it would also be incorrect to assume that pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride has been given a clean bill of health. It hasn’t. In animal studies it lowers melatonin production and shortens the time to puberty (Luke, 1997). Rats given 2.2 ppm sodium fluoride in their drinking water (doubly distilled and de-ionized) for one year had morphological changes in their kidneys and brains, and a greater uptake of aluminum into the brain and amyloid deposits similar to that observed in Alzheimers’ patients (Varner et al, 1998). In humans (post menopausel women) pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride at doses of about 70 mg per day for four years, increased the rate of hip fracture ( Riggs et al, 1990). And in 1958 Galetti and Joyet showed that doses as low as 3-5 mg/day of fluoride, administered as sodium fluoride, lowered the activity of the thyroid gland in patients suffering from overactive thyroid glands. Of course, US government agencies continue to ignore most of these findings.

All this being said, what remains critically important about Roger Masters’ argument is that the substances that are used to fluoridate over 90% of the fluoridated water supply in the US (industrial grade silcofluorides), have never been subjected to any long term toxicological testing and now US Agencies are to begin such testing! A bit late wouldn’t you think, after about 40-50 years of use? Moreover, his own findings have shown a correlation with their use and the greater uptake of lead into children’s blood and violent behavior.

May I suggest the following list of arguments (listed by priority) to anyone proposing to fluoridate your water:

1) You have no right to impose fluoride on me or my children without my permission. To do otherwise is to violate my right to “informed consent” to medication. Local authorities “police power” is irrelevent in this case because tooth decay is not contagious or life threatening.

2) There is little evidence that fluoride does much, if any, good for teeth and there is a lot of evidence that it may do some harm. See http://www.fluoridealert.org for details. The Precautionary Principle should rule it out.

3) Dental fluorosis rates are now 3- 5 times higher than the original goal of those who started fluoridation ( Spencer et al, 1996, Heller et al, 1997 and McDonagh, 2000). They are even too high in non-fluoridated communities. This means our kids are being overdosed on fluoride, we do not need any more. Our task today is not to increase our dose but to start reducing our exposure to fluoride from all sources, including dental products, pesticide and fertilizer residues, air pollution, natural foods high in fluoride (e.g tea) and from food and beverages prepared with fluoridated water.

4) If despite all this documented evidence, you insist on fluoridating our water, then you must take the following REASONABLE measures:

a) Use only pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride, since neither industrial grade sodium fluoride nor the silicofluorides have been tested in long term animal tests.

b) Provide an alternative source of water (or equipment like reverse osmosis) for those who want it, especially those who are supersensitive to it and to families whose children are already suffering from dental fluorosis.

c) Take urgent steps to warn mothers not to use tap water to make formula for bottle feeding of their babies, since this will result in their babies getting 100 times more fluoride than they would get from breast milk, and it will exceed the recommended dose of fluoride by many agencies.

d) Pay for all treatment of dental fluorosis which appears subsequent to fluoridation. This should be done in the name of equity. Why should some families pay out of pocket for damage to their teeth, while others are reaping a “claimed” benefit?

e) Take out liability insurance to cover future class action lawsuits which might accrue from those who suffer the ill-effects, such as neurological impairment in children or hip fracture in the elderly, which may be proven in the future to have been caused by overexposure to fluoride.

I realize that not everyone will be prepared to move to point 4) and instead will do everything humanly possible to vote those politicians, who propose fluoridation, out of office. However, I think the demands in 4) are the only reasonable grounds on which someone should accept this practice when they have been ignored on points 1-3.

I offer this as a draft for consideration and will be more than happy to entertain suggestions for improvement.

Paul Connett.

From Jane Jones

August 19, 2002.

Thanks for this IFIN ( #633) and Roger’s comments.

However, there is still an important point to address. I have looked at Roger’s site re sodium fluoride and noted the two references cited on the safety of sodium fluoride.

In a recent email I showed you that there are two types of sodium fluoride – one of a laboratory reagent/pharmaceutical grade (which would have been used in those two studies.). This grade would be prohibitively expensive for water fluoridation in any case.

The stuff they use for drinking water fluoridation in communities under 10.000 is NOT a phamaceutical grade. It has NOT been tested. It cannot be adequately tested at all because, even if it came from the same source, every batch would be different.

My worry is that the IFIN subscribers are being given incorrect information which could lead them to believe that “one kind of fluoride has been tested.”  This COULD lead some campaigners to ask authorities why they don’t consider sodium fluoride instead (when they are arguing what they perceive to be a ‘logical’ – and/or presenting – an impartial case.).

Most of our (NPWA) subscribers are aware that “none of the fluoridation agents have been safety tested” – and this includes commercial grade sodium fluoride, even though it is rarely used today. This lack of testing of fluorides used in water fluoridation is an extremely important, distinctive aspect of the campaign, about which there should be no confusion at all.

I notice that Roger’s site (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~rmasters/ahabs.) also carries this incorrect information and I do think that it should be corrected, both on Prof. Masters’ site and to the subscribers to IFIN.

Best – Jane


thank you.  I’ll have to modify the statements on my web site as soon as I can get to it.