Fluoridation: emotionally misrepresenting contamination

By Ken Perrott 05/05/2014

Another attempt by me to put the issue of contamination of fluoridation chemicals into proper context.

This time I am using data placed on-line by Sapphire Eyes Productions. They produced an emotional anti-fluoridation film Fire Water which relies heavily on the argument that fluoridation chemicals are waste products full of contaminating heavy metals. Trouble is – the data they put on-line does not support the argument – rather it destroys it as it shows that the measured levels of contamination are well below regulated limits.

You can find their data at Raw Fluoridation Chemical Analyses – Freedom of Information – South Australia Water Corp.: FOI Fluoridated Water Analyses for South Australia, 2006 – 2010.

I have extracted the relevant data – from the 16 certificates of analysis for fluoroslicic acid they presented. In the table below I compare the range of contaminant levels with the regulated maximum concentrations for New Zealand (quoted in  NZ Water and Wastes Association Standard for “Water Treatment Grade” fluoride, 1997). As mentioned in previous articles the specific impurity limits are calculated from the maximum acceptable value (MAV) of an element taken from the Drinking-Water Standards for New Zealand 1995. A further safety factor is used as described in the regulations:

“Specific Impurity Limits (SIL) have been calculated based on a maximum dosage (MD) of fluoride ion/litre of water and the maximum acceptable value (MAV) of a parameter taken from the Drinking-Water Standards for New Zealand 1995. The safety factor (SF) used in the calculation should be a minimum of 10, which reflects the view that no more than 10 percent of aMAV should be contributed by a given impurity in a water supply chemical.”

Put simply, the contamination from fluoridation chemicals should contribute less than 10% of the maximum acceptable value in the finished water.

Element Regulated maximum – ppm Range 16 certificates – ppm
Antimony 40 0.005 – <2
Arsenic 132 1.1 – 4.3
Cadmium 40 0 – <2
Chromium 660 0.6 – 7.3
Lead 132 <0.001 – <5
Mercury 26 <0.1 – 7.9
Selenium 132 <0.05 – <2

The data clearly shows that contamination is far lower than the regulated maximum in all the relevant cases. Even for mercury the high top end of the range was for only two samples all others would have contributed less than 10%

And remember less than 10% of the regulated maximum means less than 1% of the maximum acceptable value for drinking water.


So, don’t be taken in next time an anti-fluoridation activist goes on about waste products and contamination – even if they refer to specific analytical data. Insist on looking at the actual data and checking the levels against the regulations. Don’t be fooled by their tendency to flash the data and quickly move on (as they did in the Hamilton Fluoride Tribunal).

Remember, these days analytical methods can be extremely sensitive. Just because we can measure a contaminant concentration does not mean we should be concerned about it. After all, all our foods and drinks, natural or not, will contain almost any element at extremely low concentrations.We should always attempt to put the information into its real context.

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