Long-term Exposure to Fluoride is Hazardous
The fluoride conundrum hadn't made its way onto my radar until recently. Yesterday while I was checking in with my favorite resources on Facebook, I ran into a poignant infographic by the Fluoride Action Network.
I learned that the fluoride added to water is usually not the naturally occurring form, but rather, industrial waste by-products of the phosphate fertilizer and aluminum industry. It turns out that fluoride is a persistent, bio-accumulative pollutant. The Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water group says that if fluoride waste wasn't marketed as a “product” it could only be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility and never legally discharged directly into the environment.
Harmful Effects of Prolonged Exposure to Fluoride
Long-term exposure has been associated with serious health problems, such as increased bone fragility, dental and skeletal fluorosis, reduced IQ, and damage to the thyroid, developing brain and other tissues. You might be surprised to know that 41% of American adolescents (ages 12-15) have dental fluorosis (a visible sign of fluoride toxicity) according to the CDC. And here's the kicker: the most common sources of fluoride aren't toothpaste and drinking water, but actually conventionally farmed foods thanks to the widespread use of fluoride-based pesticides.
Amazingly, based on the assumed safety of such fluoride-based pesticides, iceberg lettuce can now contain a whopping 180 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride–that's 180 times higher than what's recommended in drinking water! Citrus fruits are allowed to be contaminated with 95 ppm of sodium aluminum fluoride. Potatoes may have 22 ppm on the outside and up to 2 ppm on the inside. Raisins can have up to 55 ppm. But of all the foods, grapes are perhaps one of the foremost sources of fluoride exposure.
And according to Jeff Green, an activist in the movement to eliminate toxic fluoride, the free fluoride ion acts as a transport of heavy metals, allowing them to enter into areas of your body they normally would not be able to go, such as into your brain. The good news is that three specific nutrients will help bind the free fluoride ions, allowing it to be excreted from your body more effectively:
- Vitamin C
I like the way Achelle Santos of Be Green summarizes the problem:
Fluoride, plain and simple, is a medication. And as with all medications, the dosage is not the same for everyone; yet the practice of water fluoridation assumes that everyone can tolerate the same levels of fluoride. While the public water supply is the simplest and most effective way to make fluoride’s dental benefits available to everybody, it may not be the safest means of delivery because ingestion of fluoridated water exposes all the tissues, the bones, and the nervous system to fluoride when only the teeth actually benefit from it and when certain fluoride levels are actually toxic to the body.
Because fluorosis is irreversible and incurable, prevention is the only remedy.
Given this information, will you reconsider the food you eat, the water you drink and the fluoride treatments your dentist recommends for your child's developing teeth?
Infographic credit: Fluoride Action Network