LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 10 no 1, June 2010 ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Guest Editor: Monica Maharjan, Master of Science Management and Master of Applied Sciences (Biotechnology).
Editor-in-Chief: Anne Roberts

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Fluoride in water: a magical ingredient?

By Monica Maharjan. Edited by Anne Roberts

Due to the amount of landfill produced by plastic drinking water bottles, there are campaigns in industrialized countries to encourage people to drink water from the tap.

However, a recent study by Sawan et al, suggests that tap water containing fluoride may not be wholly beneficial.

[Ref: “Fluoride increases lead concentrations in whole blood and in calcified tissues from lead-exposed rats” by Rosangela MM Sawana, Giselle AS Leite, Maria C.P. Saraiva, Fernando Barbosa Jr., Jose E.Tanus-Santos, Raquel F. Gerlacha.
Toxicology - Volume 271, Issues 1-2, 30 April 2010, Pages 21-26 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X10000351

Tap water is a complex solution that may contain lead, copper, chlorine and fluoride, depending how it is stored, treated and transported. Lead and copper can get into water during the transportation process via pipelines; chlorine and fluoride are intentionally added: chlorine for disinfection and fluoride to prevent dental decay.

In many of articles about drinking water, fluoride is described as a ‘magical ingredient’ for tooth decay prevention. It is believed to be good for our bones and teeth. Fluoridation of water is said to be a safe and cost effective way to reduce dental caries. Many health organizations (both national and international, and including the World Health Organization, WHO) support fluoridation of drinking water; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even said that it is one of the 10 greatest  public health achievements of the 20th century. However, fluoridation of our drinking water has always been debated for its safety and effectiveness.

The study by Sawan et al was on the effect of fluoride on blood lead levels. Even the level of 10ug/dl could cause in cognitive impairment in children. It was found that ‘magical’ fluoride is actually responsible for an increase in blood lead levels. The study was carried out under controlled condition, using highly purified chemicals (lead, fluoride and complex of fluoride-lead); initially on 28 rats (24 females and 4 males) and later on their offspring. The lead level was measured in dentine, enamel, bone and whole blood samples at the end of the study. It was found that the complex of fluoride-lead significantly increases the lead concentration in blood and calcified tissues. That means fluoride on its own could be a beneficial ingredient but when it complexes with lead could result into higher level of that metal in our bodies.

The amount of chlorine and fluoride in water are regulated by Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, but the amount of lead and copper at the tap cannot be not be known for sure without testing.

The study “showed that co-exposure to fluoride increases lead concentrations in the blood and in calcified tissues in animals exposed to lead from the beginning of gestation. These findings suggest that a biological effect not recognized so far may underlie the epidemiological association between increased BPb levels in children and water fluoridation.”

The aim of this article is to raise awareness of what your drinking water may be doing to you and your children. The LEAD Group’s advice is: If your drinking water is fluoridated, consider having the water tested for lead. If the lead levels exceed 0.01mg/L, we advise you to track down the source of the lead: is it coming from lead or galvanized water pipes or lead solder, or leaded bronze or brass in the taps, or is it because of the method of fluoridation used by your water authority?

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