Not too long ago I was talking with my mom about water fluoridation. She said that she isn’t a big fan of it. When I asked her why, she said that although she thinks it is good for teeth, she doesn’t like that they use toxic waste fluoride to fluoridate our public water supplies. I was pretty skeptical, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look into this claim.
Here’s what I found.
The Three Types of Fluoride That Are Used in Water Fluoridation
There are three main types of fluoride used to fluoridate public water supplies in the United States: sodium fluoride, sodium fluorosilicate, and fluorosilicic acid. Here’s a quick overview of each of those materials:
Sodium fluoride is a white powder or crystal. It is easy to transport and is the “gold standard” of water fluoridation. When artificial water fluoridation began, sodium fluoride was the powder that was used. Unfortunately, sodium fluoride is relatively expensive, so some utility companies use other fluoride-containing compounds. It is made up of the elements sodium and fluorine.
Fluorosilicic acid is a liquid by-product formed when phosphate fertilizers are made. It is a liquid that has varying concentrations. Due to the liquid form, it is expensive to ship. It is made up of the elements hydrogen, silicon, and fluorine.
Sodium fluorosilicate is similar to fluorosilicic acid, but it is in powder form. It is much less expensive to ship and has thus found widespread usage in many cities throughout the United States. It is made up of the elements sodium, silicon, and fluorine.
Just to clarify above, fluorine is an element whose ion is known as fluoride.
Fluoride Used in Water Fluoridation Must Meet Rigorous Standards
The American Water Works Association has set rigorous standards that fluoride must meet in order to be used in public water supplies. Here is how they describe each set of guidelines:
“The purpose of this standard is to provide purchasers, manufacturers, and suppliers with the minimum requirements for [the particular type of fluoride], including physical, chemical, packaging, shipping, and testing requirements.”
Here are their guidelines for the three types of fluoride used to fluoridate public water supplies:
- Sodium Fluoride Water Fluoridation Guidelines
- Sodium Fluorosilicate Water Fluoridation Guidelines
- Fluorosilicic Acid Water Fluoridation Guidelines
Is Water Really Fluoridated With Toxic Waste Fluoride?
Water is fluoridated with the above three fluoride-containing chemicals. Many times, these fluoride chemicals are by-products of fertilizer production or other industrial by-products. Calling them “toxic waste” may be a bit of a stretch.
Before the fluoride “waste products” can find their way into our water, they must be purified and have any contaminants removed so that when they are added to water, the water can still meet the minimum water quality guidelines.
If you’re interested in learning more about the water quality guidelines in the United States, here’s a good resource put out by the Environmental Protection Agency of all the chemical contaminants that are regulated in the public water supply.
If pure toxic waste were added to our drinking water, it wouldn’t be safe to drink. Fluoride, when added to water has been found to make teeth more resistant to cavities. On the flip side of the coin, fluoride also causes dental fluorosis.
If you have any questions, comments, or opinions to share on the chemicals we use to fluoridate our water supplies, please leave them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!