Fluoride Action Network


A health study was carried out on 2066 workers in an aluminum smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia to study the effects of exposure to fluoride and other air contaminants encountered on the potlines on the musculoskeletal system, hemopoietic tissue, liver, and renal function. Three hundred seventy-two railway repair workers from Squamish, British Columbia served as an “external” control group. Examination of the spine and sacroiliac joints and pelvic X-ray were conducted on long-term potline workers and a number of “internal” control workers in the smelter not exposed to any air contaminants. Urinary fluoride measurements and personal sampling for airborne fluoride were also carried out. Blood samples were collected for routine blood count and liver and renal function test. Definite cases of skeletal fluorosis were not found in any potroom workers. Some of the changes of early skeletal fluorosis described on pelvic X-rays, e.g., increased density, calcification of ligaments, and periosteal changes, were found in a few workers who were employed on the potlines for more than 10 yr. There was, however, poor agreement in the findings of the two radiologists who read the films. The entity “musculoskeletal fluorosis” does not exist in this smelter where the potroom workers were exposed to total fluoride levels below the currently accepted threshold limit value of 2.5 mg/m3. No ill effects on the hematopoietic tissue or liver and renal function were found.