Toxicity is in the dose or concentration of fluoride

By Ken Perrott 15/06/2014 2

FKANI came across a new organisation, the Fluoride Knowledge & Action Network, the other day. I first thought this is another one of those fluoride free activist groups and it is probably part of Paul Connett’s Worldwide Alliance to End Fluoridation. Digging a little deeper I was pleased to see it did not belong to this alliance, which is really just the anti-fluoride equivalent of the Comintern or the Fourth international.

In fact the Fluoride Knowledge & Action Network is an Indian organisation and describes itself as “a network of passionate people interested in finding solutions and improving awareness for the Fluorosis problem in Rural communities by working on safer water & better nutrition.”

So it’s not another one of these political activist anti-fluoride groups we have become so used to here. It is actually concerned with a real problem caused by excessive fluoride in water and diets which can cause severe dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis. These are real problems in parts of India, China,  Africa and the Middle East. They are not a problem in New Zealand and are not caused by fluoride at the optimum concentrations used in water fluoridation.

So, I wish the Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network well in their future activity. They are dealing with an important problem in their area and hopefully won’t get diverted by Connett’s organisation. I think that is a possibility because the fluoride free groups, and the “scientific” journal Fluoride they love to quote, does try to make capital out of these real problems by arguing that they are also a problem with fluoridation in countries like New Zealand. They aren’t.

Most of us understand the concept of “too much of a good thing.” This is also true with diet and with essential and beneficial micro-nutrients and micro-elements.  So it is not surprising to realise that, like selenium, fluoride can also be toxic at high concentrations but beneficial at lower concentrations.

Misrepresenting toxicity of fluoride

Trouble is, political activists opposing fluoridation often resort to using high dose, or high concentration, situations to argue against fluoridation. Here are a few example I came across today while browsing social media.

Remember – the optimum concentration for fluoridation of community water supplies is 0.7 ppm F.

Here’s a couple  of papers promoted by Carol Kopf, the Media Director of Paul Connett’s Fluoride Action Network. She uses the Twitter account @nyscof – the New York Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc.

  1. Zhou, Y., Qiu, Y., He, J., Chen, X., Ding, Y., Wang, Y., & Liu, X. (2013). The toxicity mechanism of sodium fluoride on fertility in female rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology : An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 62, 566–72.

    These workers reported harmful effects of sodium fluoride on rats supplied with drinking water containing 100 and 200 ppm F.

  2. Simon, M. J. K., Beil, F. T., Rüther, W., Busse, B., Koehne, T., Steiner, M., … Oheim, R. (2014). High fluoride and low calcium levels in drinking water is associated with low bone mass, reduced bone quality and fragility fractures in sheep. Osteoporosis International : A Journal Established as Result of Cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 25(7), 1891–903.

    The paper reported negative effects on sheep in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia, which were drinking water containing about 10 ppm F.

Fluoride Free Hamilton often quotes “natural” or alternative health sources. Here they link to the article Fluorides: The neurotoxins in water and toothpaste. Trouble is they raise the bogey of high fluoride concentrations (in India) and link it to  flawed work claiming fluoride is a neurotoxin:

“Here in India at least 20 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Mahatrashtra and Punjab are victims of elevated fluoride levels.”Fluorides are known to cause brain toxicity and neurological symptoms in humans,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH”

See Repeating bad science on fluoride for my comments on Grandjean’s paper.

Fluoride Free NZ is just as bad (well they are the same organisation and people). Fluoride Free Hamilton via Declan Waugh was recently fear-mongering about fluoride claiming it could be causing depression. They posed the question:

Have you noticed how many people who kill themselves are on anti-depressants? Prozac for one, has fluoride compounds in it. I wonder if there is any connection?

And cited to this paper:

O’Hara, P. J., Fraser, A. J., & James, M. P. (1982). Superphosphate poisoning of sheep: the role of fluoride. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 30(12), 199–201. doi:10.1080/00480169.1982.34940

Simply reading the abstract shows this paper is not relevant to fluoridation. It says, in part, “A lethal dose of NaF caused severe depression, salivation, hyperpnoea, blindness, ataxia and incoordination. Death ensued three to 52 hours after dosing.” This paper described research into superphosphate poisoning of animals forced to graze freshly topdressed short pastures.

I have a picture of a poor sheep which has been poisoned and is lethargically sitting around waiting to die. But evidence for human depression! Come off it.

There is a lesson here of course. Be very wary of anti-fluoridation activists citing scientific papers as evidence for fluoridation being toxic. In most cases they will be using the evidence obtained from studies using much higher concentrations than used in community water fluoridation.

Concentration does make a difference – don’t be fooled.

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2 Responses to “Toxicity is in the dose or concentration of fluoride”

  • Hi Ken,

    Which one is it ‘dose’ or ‘concentration’? What about ‘dosage’?

    Another question. Is there any peer-reviewed scientific evidence that the toxic effect of fluoride has a threshold below which there is no effect or is the effect linear to zero – just as with radiation?



    • Both or neither – the terms are at least explanatory within themselves without bringing in a new one. Like many essential or beneficial elements one is not obliged to be as accurate as when handling a powerful drug. After all,mod,you ask those question about the concentration of calcium, phosphorus or magnesium in your diet. And in the case of fluoride, where in most cases dietary intake is dominated by the concentration in drinking water, this is a suitable differentiator.

      With regard to community water fluoridation the only recognised negative effect is dental fluorosis and the NRC report indicated a threshold value of 2 ppm F for any severe fluorosis.

      Whatever, you didn’t seem to notice the main point of my article – the way activists dishonestly use research involving very much higher F concentrations to argue that fluoridation is dangerous.