It is of great concern that globally, people and particularly children are exposed to unidentified toxic chemicals. Silently and insidiously, they cause inflammation and chronic diseases, damage organs, disrupt metabolic processes, erode intelligence, disrupt behaviour, curtail or even put a stop to future achievements – all adding up to damaged societies, particularly and most seriously in developing countries.

Exposure to Fluorides

Fluorides are a family of such chemicals. They are compounds of the gaseous element fluorine. Fluorine is probably the most reactive chemical on this planet. It combines with almost any element. Fluorides are highly soluble and exist in solution in an ionic state.

Fluorides are used in water treatment, as a purported protector of teeth and even in some drugs.

Drinking water in Sri Lanka is not fluoridated; we must be thankful for that. Drinking water is fluoridated in some countries that have many immigrants from Sri Lanka such as the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.

Fluoride in water is of interest in Sri Lanka because, in some areas, drinking water from wells contains unhealthy levels of fluoride.

Dangers of Fluorides

Fluorides are neurotoxins and endocrine (Hormone) disruptors Fluorides affect the brain, teeth and bones and even body organs.

Estimation of the amount of fluoride ingested from all environmental and dietary sources is very important so that rational and scientifically sound decisions can be made when guidelines for the use of fluorides are reviewed periodically and modified. (Journal of Dental Research, 1992)

They should have included toothpaste too as a source of fluorides.

Brain damage

Fluoride’s ability to damage the brain is well documented; it is one of the most active areas of fluoride research today. Over 400 studies have found that fluoride is a neurotoxin (a chemical that can damage the brain). To note a few briefly, with minimal changes in the text;

• Over 200 animal studies show that prolonged exposure to varying levels of fluoride can damage the brain, particularly when coupled with an iodine deficiency, or aluminium excess

• 53 human studies link moderately high fluoride exposures with reduced intelligence (IQ)

• 45 animal studies report that mice/rats ingesting fluoride have an impaired capacity to learn and/or remember;

• 12 studies (7 humans, 5 animal) link fluoride with neurobehavioral deficits (e.g., impaired visual-spatial organisation) [see action on pineal gland]

• 3 human studies linking fluoride exposure with impaired fetal brain development.

• 3 Mother-Offspring studies linking certain levels of fluoride in the urine of pregnant women to reduced IQ in their offspring.

Action on Pineal Gland

Because of limitations of space, we’ll take just one case of brain damage by fluorides – damage to the pineal gland. This is a very small pea-sized gland in the centre of the brain, but unusually, not protected by the blood-brain barrier.

It is light sensitive, with a cellular structure similar to that of the retina. This light sensitivity is called non-visual photoreception which is a feature that synchronises periodic functions of life forms to changes in light in the environment.

One example is the daily and seasonal circadian rhythms – the sleep-wake cycle and reactions to the four seasons.

It converts the “feel good” hormone serotonin to melatonin which is the hormone that regulates the circadian rhythms.

Fluorides calcify the pineal gland, turning it into “stone” – gravel-like pieces of calcium carbonate and/or calcium hydroxylapatite. The latter is similar to calcium in bone and teeth.

Pineal gland calcification is associated with or linked to, a number of diseases:

Alzheimer Disease, Bipolar Disease, Circadian Dysregulation, Insomnia, Low Back Pain, Parkinson Disease, Schizophrenia, Sleep Disorders, Stroke, Hormone Imbalances: Low Melatonin

All these disorders, except stroke, are direct brain disorders and can be linked to the damage to, and the destruction of, the pineal gland.

Hormone disruption

In summary, evidence of several types indicates that fluoride affects normal endocrine function or response; the effects of the fluoride-induced changes vary in degree and kind in different individuals.

Fluoride is, therefore, an endocrine disruptor in the broad sense of altering normal endocrine functions or response (National Research Council, 2006)

The endocrine system is a network of glands that secrete hormones which are chemical signals to cells and organs to regulate their functions. The effects on four main glands are discussed briefly.

The Thyroid Gland

This gland produces two essential hormones T3 and T4. T4 is the active hormone. The body must change T3 to T4 for effective use. Over or underproduction of too much or too little of T3 and T4 results in disruption of many body functions. Fluoride has been shown to cause hypothyroidism, a condition of too little T3 and T4, evidenced by fluoride

[1] promoting anti-thyroid effects of iodine deficiency

[2] causing goitre in some people

[3] changing thyroid hormone balance as a suppressant does.

The Pancreas

This gland produces the hormone insulin which signals cells and regulates their take of sugar from the bloodstream, to produce energy. Many studies have shown that fluoride increases glucose levels in the blood. Chronic elevation of blood glucose is, in effect, Type 2 diabetes. In other words, fluoride can cause diabetes. The mechanism is yet to be identified.

The Parathyroid Gland

This gland produces parathyroid hormone [PTH], which regulates calcium in our bones and blood. Falling blood calcium levels trigger PTH to transfer stored calcium in bones to the blood supply. Too much PTH is called hyperparathyroidism.

It has been found that hyperthyroidism occurs as a side effect of fluoride-induced bone disease – skeletal fluorosis.

The Pineal Gland (See under Brain Damage, above)

Kidney disease

Research shows that persons with chronically impaired kidney function face an increased risk of chronic fluoride toxicity and may develop skeletal fluorosis through drinking water containing even 1 ppm of fluoride.

With advanced kidney disease, the susceptibility to fluoride toxicity is very high because there is a higher accumulation of fluoride in bones and tissues. This leads to the painful disease of skeletal fluorosis as well as the complex bone disease renal osteodystrophy and staining and disfiguring of teeth. Another likely disease is osteomalacia – the softening of bones. Discovery of this disease led to the practice of filtering out fluoride from dialysis water to ensure proper dialysis. People who drink fluoridated water are exposed to these diseases.

The kidney being of soft tissue and directly exposed to fluoride in water, there is a concern that it might get diseased by exposure to fluoride. Kidneys so damaged can accumulate more fluoride causing further damage to bones, kidneys and other organs. Animal studies show that consumption of water containing just 1 ppm of fluoride over a long time leads to kidney damage. In humans, a high level of kidney damage is found in those with skeletal fluorosis, and the continued intake of fluoride-free water results in a significant recovery in their clinical signs and symptoms.

We in Sri Lanka do not have to worry about the fluoridation of drinking water. It appears that the National Water Supply and Drainage Board is aware of the dangers of fluoride and have tried out a resin for its removal.

It looks like the NWSDB is not de-fluoridating any water even in areas in which high fluoride in drinking water is endemic because the water sources they use do not have a high fluoride content.

Such contaminated water is found in wells and deeper tube wells. Therefore it looks like the people in areas in which Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown origin is endemic are getting good water wherever possible and others are supplied with needs for the collection of rainwater. Above all, it appears as if the people are educated on the harm caused by fluoride.

Going on the basis of the finding that people even with skeletal fluorosis who completely change over to fluoride-free water make significant recoveries, it is hoped that now, with clean water, people in the North Central Province will have a better life that they so richly deserve.

*Original article online at