A few weeks ago I was driving through an industrial section of town and saw a cloud of yellow gas leaking out of a silo. I wish I had taken a picture of it because I had never seen anything like it before. Obviously this stuff was toxic and bad for the environment but I was curious to know exactly what it was so I did some research and determined that it was most likely some form of fluoride gas which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to do some research on fluoride for a while now since the government puts it in our water and we ought to know why they do and if it has any actual benefit to us.
But first lets have a little chemistry lesson. The way in which the periodic table is organized lets us easily see some similarities between different elements, elements in the same column have similar properties, some of these columns have special classifications, the noble gasses on the far right side of the table are the most well known of these groups, known for their unlikeliness to react with anything. Right next to the noble gasses is a less commonly recognized group of elements called halogens known for being the most reactive group of group of elements.
Another thing we can observe through looking at the periodic table is how reactive any element probably is. Generally speaking the higher up an element appears in the periodic table the more reactive it is. Theoretically speaking carbon and silicon can form the same kind of atomic structures, (this is why an episode of classic Star Trek features silicon based life) but if you were to throw a bunch of oxygen and hydrogen atoms in with some carbon and silicon you’re going to have a lot more stuff bond with the carbon than the silicon because carbon is more reactive than silicon.
Fluoride comes from the element flurine which is placed at the top of the halogens in the periodic table, meaning it is the most reactive of the most reactive elements, in fact it is the most reactive of all elements. Based purely on that logic it is safe to assume that fluorine is not something that you want in your body free to react with whatever random thing it comes in contact with like hydrogenated oils can, this is enough information for us to be at least a bit skeptical of the supposed health benefits and safety of putting fluoride in our bodies, so let’s dig a bit deeper. (Although it is worth noting that fluorides are not as reactive as fluorine since they are always already bonded with something else)
Other halogens include chlorine and iodine which are both commonly used to purify water by killing the bacteria and parasites in it, again we should be skeptical of putting things used to kill stuff in our bodies but the amount of either of these things used to purify water isn’t enough to really harm us (or at least whatever harm it might do is not nearly as bad as the harm of drinking bad water). If you have the ability to choose how your water is purified you should opt for filtration rather than chemical treatment but that is a whole other topic. Another thing that most people understand about iodine and chlorine is that they taste nasty and our taste buds are rather smart because they have evolved in such a way that if something tastes nasty it is probably not something that we should be putting into our bodies, fairly common sense. And of course we should all know that if you drink a bunch of pool water, which is heavily chlorinated, you’re going to get a stomach ache, a lot of us probably did that as a kid and have first-hand experience with that. So halogens look more and more like things we shouldn’t be ingesting.
Now where did the government and all the massive corporations that are pumping fluoride into our water get all that fluoride in the first place? It isn’t something that we find abundant in nature. The first people to ever have their hands on a substantial quantity of fluoride were the scientists in the Manhattan Project as it was a byproduct of uranium manufacturing. So if you ever want to turn some heads at a party you can say that the government is taking the waste material they have from making nuclear weapons and intentionally putting it into our water supply and you wouldn’t be wrong. Nowdays there are a lot of things that we manufacture that have some form of fluoride as a waste product, the silo I saw leaking the yellow gas was at a facility which I believe recycles car batteries.
But then why did it end up being put in our water? For quite a while now dentists have known that fluoride is rather good at cleaning teeth, virtually all toothpaste has fluoride in it and dental hygienists will use stuff that has a quite high concentration to fluoride to give our teeth an even deeper clean (notice how these things taste bad). The fact that the base element fluorine is highly reactive is probably a part of the reason why it is good at cleaning teeth. From my research I’ve found nothing wrong with this so you don’t have to go out and buy new toothpaste to avoid fluoride poisoning, just don’t swallow it.
In 1939 a dentist named H. Trendley Dean was paid by the government to do some research on the possible effects of putting fluoride in drinking water. He collected data which included the varying fluoride levels in the water of over three hundred Texas communities along with the dental records of their populations. Dean published a paper suggesting that there was a correlation between fluoride in drinking water and good teeth and he suggested to the government an optimum level of fluoride that should be present in drinking water so that everyone in the population, rich or poor, could have beautiful white teeth free of cavities. Now the government has been putting fluoride in our water as per Dr. Dean’s recommendation for decades and this obviously didn’t happen.
So what was wrong with Dr. Dean’s study? Researchers have since reviewed the study and found that, much like in the infamous seven countries study, Dean cherry picked the data that he used to come up with his conclusion. Dean had data from over three hundred Texas communities and yet he really only took into account the data from 21 of these communities which showed the correlation he was hoping to find, when taking all of the data Dean had access to into account there was no correlation between the levels of fluoride in the water and the dental health of a population. Dean was taken to court over this and admitted under oath that his findings were not valid.
Dean was not practicing real science he was practicing the corrupt science that is all too present in today’s age. The question the government paid him to answer was not, “How does the level of fluoride in the water affect dental health?” it was, “How can we get rid of all the excess fluoride we suddenly have in a cheap and/or profitable manner?” Finding truth was not the motivation of his study, money was. It is rather foolish to think that ingesting fluoride would give people similar benefits as applying it topically does, it’s like saying that drinking a sunscreen smoothie will keep you from getting sunburned.
So what does ingesting fluoride do? Well since it tastes nasty, is an industrial waste product not typically found in nature and is made with a highly reactive element so we can assume that bad things will happen, and bad things do indeed happen when we ingest too much fluoride. Fluoride intake is linked to things like bone decay and thyroid issues among other things. It is considered to be more toxic than lead and yet we put fluoride in our water that is 250 times over the level that we would consider a safe amount of lead. (Interestingly enough when it comes to lead contaminated water there are people who speculate that the high lead levels in the water of Flint Michigan when they had a big crisis with that were partially caused by high levels of fluoride in the water accelerating the decay of the old lead pipes, however I haven’t dug into that claim deep enough to determine if it could be true.)
Once a lot of people started figuring this out activists began lobbying local governments to stop putting fluoride in the water, the biggest success story of these groups was probably getting fluoride out of Portland’s water* around twenty to thirty years ago but there aren’t many other places where they’ve found success and the type of people who had that did that activism back then are now the same type of people who would argue that questioning science is politically incorrect so further activism would require the education and mobilization of a completely different subset of the population. So I guess I’m doing my part here.
If you live in an area where fluoride is in the water there sadly isn’t much you can do to avoid it. You could start buying spring water to drink but that is expensive and comes in plastic bottles. You should avoid drinking water from plastic bottles since estrogen-like chemicals from the plastic seep into the water and mess with your hormones. Is that worse than drinking fluoride contaminated water? I don’t know but I’m inclined to think it might be, unless you have your own natural water source with good filtration there is really no way to get perfect drinking water, it is an area where we have to pick our battles and work to educate enough people that some political change will eventually take place for governments to actually give us good water.
When I was in the Philippines people there thought it was crazy that you could drink water straight out of the tap in America. It turns out that more Americans should start to think of it as crazy as well. The government is pumping known toxins into it, all the old pipes are made out of lead and asbestos, harmful chemicals from industrial fertilizers and pharmaceuticals our bodies don’t absorb aren’t being filtered out, and on top of all that we have things like train derailments to worry about. Alex Jones was right when he famously claimed that the water was “turning the frickin frogs gay.” Our water is far from safe but there is nothing we can do about it as individuals but educate those around us.
For more information on flouride I reccomend this article from the Weston A Price Foundation.
* - If you’d like to try to debunk my claim that fluoride being present in drinking water makes no difference in dental health compare the average dental health of people in Portland to that of people in any similarly sized city in America that put fluoride in their water.