The presence of elevated concentrations of fluorides in the atmosphere has been associated with changes in certain plants and an increase in the fluoride content of forage in certain areas in Utah. Long-term ingestion of such forage by some animals has produced changes characteristic of fluorosis in some of them. It seemed important to determine if man was also being adversely affected. In this investigation, 127 human bodies were autopsied and studied for gross, histological, and clinical evidence of fluoride intoxication. Eighty-eight of these deceased persons came from geographic areas known to have had elevated fluoride levels in the atmosphere and forage. Analyses for fluoride, calcium, phosphorus, and ash were made on the calvarium, sternum, rib, iliac crest, and lumbar vertebrae. Determinations for fluoride and dry matter were made on the brain, heart, lungs, thyroid, aorta, liver, spleen, pancreas, and kidney.
The highest fluoride levels were observed in older adults showing the end-stage kidney of bilateral pyelonephritis and polycystic disease. Average levels were found in subjects with unilateral pyelonephritis and in subjects with pyelonephritis with only slight to moderate disease. The highest fluoride levels were found, in subjects with the most severe kidney disease, were within the normal range, and no disease associated with fluorides was evident. Because the number of cases of chronic renal disease in this series was limited, further studies seems advisable.
Data accumulated in this study indicate that the levels of fluorides to which Utah residents in the area studied had been exposed were not responsible for gross or histological changes in soft tissues or bones.
Comparison of fluoride content in the soft tissues of persons meeting the criteria of exposure to fluoride with the content in soft tissues of persons not meeting the criteria revealed no significant difference (P > 0.05). This finding indicates that fluoride is not stored in the soft tissues in significant quantities (table 3). The fluoride content was higher in the aorta than in any of the other soft tissues studied, a result in agreement with that of Smith and associates. An increase in the fluoride content of the aorta was associated with calcification, as indicated by an increase in the calcium content of the tissue (fig 1). This increase parallels the degree of aortic arteriosclerosis and calcification. The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient for this relationship (based on analysis of 60 aortas) is 0.93.