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Arsenic and Fluoride; Watch the Double-Speak

I rarely have mentioned my complete opposition to community water fluoridation on this blog.  I suppose it would be appropriate seeing how it is illustrative of so many of concerns I have regarding liberty and big government and progressivism.   Today I learned of a controversy which just seems to be so ironic that I can’t help myself.

If you’ve heard about the Dr. Oz expose about arsenic in apple juice, then you might guess where this is going.   If not, take a look at this article, from which I will extract quotes to use in making my point.

Natural arsenic is found in everything from water to air to apples, and is referred to as “organic arsenic.” The FDA says organic arsenic is not harmful. Arsenic that’s added from chemicals like pesticides is not natural and is referred to as “inorganic arsenic.” High levels of it can be harmful, even fatal.

Whether or not  this is the case is not my concern.  What I noted with interest was the fact that the FDA felt it was a reasonable retort to note that the argument by Dr. Oz concerns the ‘total’ amount of arsenic, irrespective of whether it is organic or inorganic.  The FDA apparently believes that this is an important difference.

However, if anyone were to make such a point regarding another toxic substance that we are told is not bad for us (indeed, is good for us!) in low doses, it is laughed off and ridiculed.  I am speaking, of course, of fluoride. 

Proponents for community water fluoridation almost always go out of their way to point out that our water almost always has fluoride in it ‘naturally.’   And that is true.  However, if you point out that the ‘naturally occurring’ fluoride is not the same substance as what municipalities put in their water, you will be heckled and maligned.  And of course, they will say you must hate the children.  Granted, they will also frequently ignore your argument altogether.

There is Orwellian double-speak here of the highest quality.  Even in my simple use of employing the word ‘fluoride’ without any modifiers I have utilized pro-fluoridationistic double-talk.  You see, there really isn’t such a thing as ‘fluoride’ as a stand-alone substance.

To summarize: fluorine is an element; fluoride is an ion or a compound which contains the fluoride ion.

That article continues on to say:

Water fluoridation usually is accompished by adding sodium fluoride (NaF), fluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6), or sodium fluorosilicate (Na2SiF6) to drinking water.

The kind of fluoride that they wanted to put in my own local municipality’s water supply was hydrofluorosilicic acid.   This stuff is created by the phosphate fertilizer industry as a byproduct of the production process.  I’ll leave the reader to find out just how.  Fun stuff!

And what kind of ‘fluoride’ is actually found in the ground (apart from toxic sludge pools at fertilizer companies, of course)?  Calcium fluoride.

Calcium fluoride acts much differently in the body than the other ionized substances.  According to this entry on Wikipedia:

Fluorides are toxic to humans, however CaF2 is considered relatively harmless due to its extreme insolubility.

So doesn’t anyone else find it deeply ironic that the government is so quick to make a distinction between organic and inorganic arsenic but distinctions between fluoridated compounds are conflated seamlessly into one word, ‘fluoride,’ which we are told is found naturally in the ground water?    Check out this bit by the EPA:

Most water supplies contain some naturally occurring fluoride. Fluoride also enters drinking water in discharge from fertilizer or aluminum factories. Also, many communities add fluoride to their drinking water to promote dental health.

Elsewhere in the article by the EPA, and even in the very same paragraph,  it is acknowledged that different compounds are in play, and yet when they get right down to it, they still conflate them all as merely being ‘fluoride.’

Well, fine.  Perhaps that is an acceptable general use of of the term in that popular culture tends to lump things together.  However, when one is sitting down to take the matter seriously- like, you’re about to put it in your water, or your apple juice- if there are important differences between the things lumped together then they need to be tweaked apart.

However, advocates of community water fluoridation don’t dare allow this.  They are counting on the fact that most people have no idea what ‘fluoride’ really is and know they have a killer argument if they can just point out that our water already has ‘naturally occurring fluoride.’  Who can object, then, right?

In this same context, it is important to return to a point I already made- that different compounds have different effects on the human body.  The EPA is currently deliberating on new recommendations for ‘fluoride’ levels for community water fluoridation.  But given what I’ve just covered, aren’t you interested… even a teeny bit… in just which compounds they have under consideration?   Are the scientific studies they are relying on using the actual compounds that communities are adding to water, or something else?

Here is a document I uncovered while researching this topic that I found particularly fascinating in this context.  I hope that my readers will consider it carefully and give it its due weight, especially when you hear people throwing around certaintudes about ‘science’ telling us with confidence that ‘fluoride’ is safe, without distinguishing between the different compounds that are often given that name.

That letter was written in 2000.  I for one doubt very much has changed.

Now get out there and think for yourself.


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