And it seems to kill a lot of people. You see, there’s a chemical in there called alcohol, which the body can deal with in small amounts, but, which in larger quantities, is really quite dangerous, in quite a lot of different ways.
Coffee? Dangerous. Caffeine (by the uncensored measure) is thus a ‘poison’.
Table salt? Dangerous! ‘Poison’!
Which makes this post over at Uncensored — Queensland Health caught out on Fluoridation! — (exclamation mark not added by me, I should point out) a little puzzling. To sum up, someone has dug up a document from the Queensland Health Department, warning workers (who are presumably dealing with the fluoridation of the water supply there) to be careful of not getting too much of the stuff into their system.
Well, that’s very sensible, isn’t it? Too much of the stuff is toxic. A tiny little amount in your water is good for your teeth. As Mike points out in the comments…
It has never been news that fluoride is toxic in high enough doses … You’d have to drink several thousand glasses of water at a single sitting to get to 2 grams of NaF!
Indeed. As usual, the ‘article’ itself is a mish-mash of sources that don’t really make a solid argument. Presumably the idea is to present us with examples of how toxic fluoride can be (and, no debate, it can be), and thus, by association, damn the practice of fluoridating our drinking water. From the aforementioned Australian document — Review of Water Fluoridation and Fluoride Intake from Discretionary Fluoride Supplements (NHMRC, 1999):
Fluoride can exert acute toxic effects … and the lethal dose in the range of 2-5 g NaF for an adult …
From The Merck Index (Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs and Biologicals)
Severe symptoms have occurred from ingestion of less than one gram; death from 5 to 10 g.
…and there’s several reported instances of people getting sick and/or dying from ingesting too much of the stuff, eg.
In 1973 a fatality occurred in Queensland with a 2-year old child. It had swallowed almost fifty 2.2 mg sodium fluoride tablets. Five days after admission to the hospital it died.
But, you know, I reckon if I swallowed the equivalent of 50 tablets of just about anything you’d find in your average medicine cabinet (nurofen, aspirin, cough medicine, etc.) then I’d probably be expecting to get pretty sick (at best) as well. It seems that this is, in fact, the case. That aside, the common theme there is that it seems you need to be working in the realm of whole grams of the stuff to make you sick.
Anyway, the level of fluoride in Australian drinking water is in the range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L (with the optimum concentration being 0.9 mg/L), as outlined in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. As per Mike’s comment above, you’d need to drink a vast amount of water before you started to get anywhere near a toxic dose (and you’d probably risk dying of hyponatremia before you got there — it even turns out that water can be a ‘poison’).
As an aside, it’s interesting to note that Queensland has the lowest rates of fluoridated water in Australia, but the highest rates of tooth decay (warning: PDF file). From the same document we learn that Townsville, which has had fluoridated water since 1964, has 45% less tooth decay than Brisbane. You could nearly draw some sort of conclusion from those facts, couldn’t you?