Fluoride has been added to Brisbane’s water supply since December 2008. The debate about whether this form of fluoride is beneficial in our water supply is ongoing, and involves concerns of safety, choice and benefits.
In this article we look at exactly what fluoride is, what it is generally used for and why it is a controversial topic.
Fluoride added to the water supply is made up of the following 3 chemicals:

  • Sodium fluorosilicate
    Also known as: Sodium silicofluoride; disodium hexafluorosilicate
    Uses: water fluoridation, wood and leather preservation, etchant for opalescent glass
  • Fluorosilicic acid
    Also known as: Hexafluorosilicic acid; Dihydrogen hexaflurosilicate
    Uses: fluoridation of potable water
  • Sodium Fluoride
    Also known as: Sodium monofluoride
    Uses: Water fluoridation, steel degassing, adhesive preservative, glass manufacture, disinfectant

According to the Queensland Government, fluoridation of water is a safe and effective way to deliver fluoride to the population.  They stand by their belief that every person of every age benefits from drinking fluoridated water, and that it reduces the chance of developing tooth decay.  The water fluoridation Code of Practice states that the water supplier must ensure any impurities in these fluoridation chemicals will not adversely affect public health, with minimum standards in place to ensure each batch received contains a batch analysis from either the manufacturer, importer or supplier of these chemicals.
However, other studies have shown a link between fluoridation and reduced intelligence.  A particular meta-analysis study (a review of 27 studies) by Harvard Review in 2012 found that 26 of the 27 studies found a relationship between elevated fluoride and reduced IQ.  The National Research Council identified fluorides as having the ability to interfere with brain functions, with a Toxicological Profile for Fluorides by the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2003, reporting that fluoride crosses the placenta and can be found in fetal and placental tissue, with a newborn baby having similar blood fluoride levels as the mother.
Fluoride does occur naturally in water, plants, rocks, soil, air and foods.  In some council areas in Queensland, natural fluoride is blended with the predominant standard chemicals used in the water supply.
Whether to fluoride or not, is an ongoing concern, with more scientific research required to ascertain whether the benefits of fluoridation on preventing tooth decay outweighs the toxic effects on brain development.  Fortunately, we have a choice to drink non-fluoridated or fluoridated water.  Many water filtration systems are able to provide fluoride-free water, such as Alkafill Water System which provides alkaline and fluoride-free water, which you can refill in a reusable 15L water bottle.  Vive health now provides an Alkafill Water Station in our carpark available 24 hours 7 days a week for your convenience.

By Sandra Wood
1. Queensland Health,  2009. Fluoride, Queensland Government. Retrieved from http://www.health.qld.gov.au/fluoride/water_fluoridation.asp
2. Queensland Health n.d, Facts of Water Fluoridation in Queensland, Queensland Government.  Retrieved from  http://www.health.qld.gov.au/ph/documents/ehu/fluoride_codepractice.pdf
3. Orica Chemicals, 2013.  Safety Data Sheet: Sodium fluorosilicate.  Retrieved from http://msds.orica.com/pdf/shess-en-cds-010-000031020201.pdf
4. C.S.B.P, 2013. Fluorosilicic Acid.  Retrieved from  http://www.csbp.com.au/Media/MSDS/AN/MSDS_Fluorosilicic_Acid.aspx
5. Orica Chemicals, 2013.  Safety Data Sheet: Sodium Fluoride.  Retrieved from http://msds.orica.com/pdf/shess-en-cds-010-000031020001.pdf
6. Choi A, Sun G, Zhang Y, Grandjean P, 2012.  Developmental Fluoride Neurotoxicity, A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.  Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public HealthEnvironmental Health Perspectives,  120(10).  Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/fluoride-childrens-health-grandjean-choi/
7. National Academy of Sciences, 2006.  Fluoride in Drinking Water, A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards.  National Research Council of the National Academies, Washington D.C.  Retrieved from   http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11571&page=205
8. U.S Department of Health & Human Services,  2003. Toxicological Profile for Fluoride, Hydrogen Fluoride and Fluorine.  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia.  Retrieved from  http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp11.pdf