Another defeat for anti-fuoridation claims about arsenic

Anti-fluoride campaigners make a song and dance about contaminants, particularly arsenic, in fluoridation chemicals. However, a new study shows there is actually nothing to worry about – and, in fact, these campaigners should be more concerned with natural sources of arsenic, than with fluoridation chemicals.

The study is:

Peterson, E., Shapiro, H., Li, Y., Minnery, J. G., & Copes, R. (2015). Arsenic from community water fluoridation: quantifying the effect. Journal of Water and Health.

Past studies estimated the arsenic contribution to drinking water from fluoridation using the arsenic concentration of the fluoridation additives. This new study went further and compared the actual arsenic concentrations of  1329 paired raw water and treated drinking water samples. The samples were taken from 121 drinking water systems in Ontario, Canada.

The graph below compares the mean values of arsenic concentrations in raw water and treated water for both fluoridated (49%) and unfluoridated systems (51%).

Peterson

The data shows that even after treatment the concentration of arsenic due to natural sources is about 0.44 ppb. Fluoridation added a mere 0.07 ppb to this! (ppb = parts per billion = micrograms/litre = μg/L).

The authors concluded that fluoridation is associated with an extra 0.078 ppb compared with non-fluoridated systems when controlling for other factors (raw water concentrations, treatment processes and water source).

Let’s put these figures in context. The maximum acceptable value (MAV) for arsenic in drinking water is 10 ppb. So even the raw water mean concentration of 0.69 ppb (0.44 ppb after treatment) is safe. And the extra arsenic in fluoridated water is only 0.7% of the MAV!

Surely the sensible person will worry about natural sources of arsenic long before getting their knickers in a twist over the contribution from fluoridation.

I drew a similar conclusion from some New Zealand (Hamilton City) data in my article Fluoridation: putting chemical contamination in context. In that case, the contribution for arsenic from natural sources was much higher (around 30 ppb in the raw water – 3 times the MAV, and about 3 ppb in the treated water – a third of the MAV ).

New paper confirms previous studies

This new study confirms previous work based on the measured concentration of arsenic in fluoridating chemicals. That work produced regulations defining maximum permissible levels of contamination in water treatment chemicals. These are based on a maximum contribution of 1 ppb – 10% of the MAV.

Peterson et al., (2015) indicates the extra arsenic resulting from fluoridation is less that 10% of these standards. This is likely to be much less in Australia and New Zealand as the actual arsenic concentrations in the major fluoridating agent used, fluorosilicic acid, are much lower than those used in North America.

So – my message to anti-fluoridation campaigners is stop worrying about arsenic due to fluoridation. If you must worry then check out the concentration  of arsenic in your drinking water, and the raw water source, due to natural sources.

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11 responses to “Another defeat for anti-fuoridation claims about arsenic

  1. “Peterson et al., (2015) indicates the extra arsenic resulting from fluoridation is less that 10% of these standards. This is likely to be much less in Australia and New Zealand as the actual arsenic concentrations in the major fluoridating agent used, fluorosilicic acid, are much lower than those used in North America.”

    I wonder why they are chosen lower here.

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  2. Brian, the Hong paper is no better than Lin et al – possibly worse as only regional F levels were used.

    Again, there is no regression analysis – not possible for F but as individual values weren’t measured. It would be interesting, if these values were, to include education/social factors in the regression.

    But another poor quality study we have come to expect from Fluoride. In this case, one of the artricles they have trolled from Chinese sources and translated themselves – highly motivated to find anything they can which is negative regarding fluoride.

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  3. It’s not a matter of choice, Brian. The same regulatory standards apply. But in Australia and NZ the fluoridation agent is mostly fluorosilicic acid produced as a by-product in the manufacture of phosphate fertiliser. I think the differential boiling and melting points of the fluorides of heavy metals means they are easily separated and this by-product is very pure.

    I have only looked in detail at NZ and Australian certificates of analysis but these show As levels very much lower than some people quote for North America. Hirzy in his paper claimed much higher levels of arsenic and when I mentioned the low levels here he refused to believe me – calling me an activist!

    But, Ontario probably uses typical North American fluoridating agents so their figures from contribution for As will be much higher than ours.

    Whatever, the As from natural sources is going to be much higher than anything resulting from water treatment. Water treatment removes some of the natural As (this paper found about 50%) but not all by any means.

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  4. Ken – Thanks for your confirmation that the fluoridation agent used in NZ is a by-product of phosphate fertiliser manufacturing. Given your self-promotion as the resident font of knowledge on fluoridation I must accept the accuracy of your statement, despite it being denied by most proponents of fluoridation.
    I see your contribution as another one being highly motivated to find anything you can which is positive regarding fluoridation.

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  5. despite it being denied by most proponents of fluoridation.

    Trevor Crosbie is telling lies again.

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  6. Well if that is the case i,m sure Trevor Crosbie could name a major Dental or Medical institution that supports his opinion?

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  7. Trev – I said the most commonly used agent is a byproduct of the phosphate industry not all agents. And the manufacturing process ensures contamination is very low – much lower than the values quoted by Bill Hirzy for North America. But even usi9ng nhis values it is clear that the contribution of As from fluoridation is minuscule – much less than the naturally occurring As in water.

    Now, Trev, could you tell us which “proponent of fluoridation” denies that fluorosilicic acid is a byproduct of the phosphate industry? And provide citations?

    Why do I expect you to run away as usual?🙂

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  8. Hi Ken – given that my knowledge of science and chemistry is limited I rely on people and agencies whose comments make sense to me. Much of the evidence the pro lobby disseminates is by any measure questionable. I suggest the comments by the following group are far more credible than that presented by the likes of Chris Price etc.
    ” Spending a huge sum of taxpayers’ money on a new system that might get pulled in the near future would be unfortunate. The money would be better spent on a fluoride application program local pharmacists and dentists could provide to those who really need it. In an effort to save throwing more good money after bad, we urge you to consider seriously the liabilities involved in continuing a program that, as dominos fall, is being dropped by municipality after municipality across North America. Be on the winning side of this local, national and international debate and please cease any further fluoridation of our water supply”.
    Kris Phillips B.S.P., R.Ph.
    President/Chief Compounding Pharmacist/GMP QA Consultant
    OmniVet Pharma Inc.
    Hani Jaber – B.Sc.Pharm.
    Gordon Lane – B.Sc.Pharm
    Lewis Lau, B.Sc.Pharm
    Mulin Yang, B.Sc.Pharm
    Howard Oldham LLB
    Bonnie Oldham, LLB
    Bigi (Becky) He, Pharmacist, Shopper’s Drug Mart Parry Sound franchise owner
    Gord Cole, Hon BSC, Aqua Cage Fisheries, owner
    John Myers BSc, MSc, high school teacher
    Fritz Distler, Distler Construction, owner
    Sherry Keown, Ryman Titles, owner
    Ann L. Moore, BsC pharmacist
    SOURCE URL: http://www.parrysound.com/opinion-story/6155332-united-voice-comes-together-against-fluoride/

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  9. Thanks for your confirmation that the fluoridation agent used in NZ is a by-product of phosphate fertiliser manufacturing….despite it being denied by most proponents of fluoridation.

    (silence)

    Trevor won’t back up his lies, because he can’t.
    Trevor just runs away from his steamers, every single time.

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  10. Well, Trev, what a strange comment – but I guess that is what we have come to expect from you.

    You completely ignore requests to identify these “fluoridation proponents” who deny fluorosilicic acid is most commonly produced as a byproduct fo the phosphate industry. I can only conclude that this is a pathetic acknowledgment you original claim was a lie!🙂

    You concede that “my knowledge of science and chemistry is limited I rely on people and agencies whose comments make sense to me.” Perhaps this explains why you appeared to not understand my post about arsenic or feel confident enough to comment on it. But you then go on to claim as your authorities a group of people and provide a quote from them which say exactly nothing about science or chemistry of this issue. Instead, it expresses a financial concern – and even then makes the unwarranted claim that the number of utilities lumping for CWF in the USA is decreasing when in fact the figure actually show their number to be increasing.

    Perhaps you understanding of science and chemistry is really so pathetic you thought this quote was about science and chemistry?🙂

    Still – you are making progress – at least you provided a link this time. Congratulations – I think it is your first.

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  11. Looking at Trevs list. I dont see one Dental professional that has put their name to the old song book. Wonder why. Boy I bet ParrySound is have a real chuckle over this. I just recently read that if you put “toxic” and “fluoride” in the same sentence it is probably Bullshit. This letter proves it
    Mind I,m still waiting for the institution that supports Trevs opinion? In saying that ,Im not holding my breath.

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