According to a study released in a recent online Osteoporosis International edition, fluoride in water plus fluoride from other common sources (tea & toothpaste) can result in serious damage to human bones called skeletal fluorosis.
Sound ridiculous? It did to us as well until we took the time to think about the real point the researchers may have intended to make: We get exposed to potentially harmful compounds like fluoride all the time and from a number of sources we probably never even think about.
In all honesty, we knew about fluoride in toothpaste and the drinking water, but brewed tea? Really? Apparently so. It does make sense, though, since boiling water reduces the amount of water in the kettle/pot — thus increasing the concentrations of certain contaminants (like fluoride and metals) in the remaining water.
NEW YORK, Nov. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Fluoride consumption from tea and toothpaste damaged a woman’s bones, report researchers in Osteoporosis International published online October 9, 2010.
Fluoride, added to water intending to reduce tooth decay, accumulates in and can weaken bones. To prevent bone damage or skeletal fluorosis, in 1986 EPA set 4mg/L as water fluoride’s maximum-contaminant-level. In 2006, the National Research Council reported that 4 mg/L is too high to protect health. Some brewed teas contain almost twice that concentration.
This case describes a 53-year-old British woman with a broken bone in her foot and abnormally dense bones and badly decayed teeth.
“A striking feature of our case was the very high serum, urine, nail and bone fluoride levels, to our knowledge the highest ever reported in a patient with [skeletal] fluorosis,” the research team writes.
Her standard breakfast tea measured 7.6 mg/L fluoride. She drank six 8-ounce-cups daily, made with low-fluoride water (0.3 mg/L) and therefore 11 milligrams of fluoride daily.
She brushed her teeth 8-10 times a day. “…it is not uncommon to swallow about 25% of the toothpaste applied to the brush,” report the researchers estimating their patient’s fluoride intake from toothbrushing at 4 mg/daily.
Adding 2-3 mg of fluoride from other dietary sources, this woman ingested “a chronic daily dose of 17-18 mg [daily], an amount sufficient to cause the skeletal changes…,” the researchers report. ( source )
This story reminded us of the man who developed an illness as a result of exposure to diacetyl, an additive used in flavoring for microwave popcorn. Why? Because the man ate an unreal number of bags on a daily basis; kind of like the way this woman drank 8 cups of brewed tea a day and brushed her teeth 8 to 10 times a day.
We don’t know too many people who follow either of those people’s dietary and/or hygienic regimen but if we did, we’d probably suggest a few changes… and possibly some therapy. Having said that, though, the presence of fluoride in the water supply does make us wonder what amount the average person ingests on a daily basis.
Why do they add fluoride to the water supply?
Good question! The answer lies in fluoride’s ability to strengthen teeth and inhibit toot decay. Aside from that it serves no purpose — except, of course, to serve as the center of a raging debate where health officials have lined up on BOTH sides and each side has an arsenal of evidence to support its claims.
Do all water systems add fluoride? And if so, how much?
First of all, not all municipal water systems add fluoride to the water they distribute. Furthermore, the ones that do add different amounts depending upon things like water alkalinity and average water temperature. Suggested fluoride in water concentrations range between 0.5 mg/L and 1.2 mg/L since different organizations have different opinions on how much fluoride a water supply ought to contain.
I have well water so I don’t have to worry about fluoride, right?
Completely and totally false! Fluoride occurs naturally in the environment and concentrations in ground water can, in some cases, reach dangerously high levels. As for where naturally occurring fluoride in ground water comes from, “Fluoride is a common constituent of groundwater. Natural sources are connected to various types of rocks and to volcanic activity. Agricultural (use of phosphatic fertilizers) and industrial activities (clays used in ceramic industries or burning of coals) also contribute to high fluoride concentrations in groundwater.” ( source )
Testing drinking water for fluoride?
Although the eXact Micro 7+ Meter has the ability to test for fluoride levels as low as 0.1 mg/L and as high as 1.1 mg/L without the need for dilutions, most people will need to consult with a certified water testing laboratory such as National Testing Laboratories for assistance.
Water filters that will remove fluoride from drinking water?
As a general rule, “Pitcher or faucet-mounted water filters do not alter fluoride; the more-expensive reverse osmosis filters remove 65–95% of fluoride, and distillation filters remove all fluoride.” ( source )