Friday, July 26, 2013

Populations Dietary exposure to Fluoride

Eighteen months ago I authored a comprehensive report which was submitted to the Irish Government and the EU highlighting concerns regarding the high level of dietary fluoride exposure of the Irish population from all sources, including fluoridated water, foods, beverages and medications, and its possibly association with chronic disease burdens prevalent in the Republic of Ireland.

The World Health Organization (WHO) have repeatedly stated that prior to commencement of water fluoridation programmes the total dietary intake of the population must be accurately determined for all sectors of society.[1]

As far back as 1994 the WHO also recommended that in countries where fluoridation of water was practised that the fluoride content of foodstuffs and beverages should be labelled on products so as to ensure that consumers were aware of their total dietary intake and avoid toxic overexposure to fluoride.[2]

Neither of these recommendations were ever implemented in Ireland; yet we are the only country within the European continent with a mandatory water fluoridation policy.

What is particularly alarming is that Irish people are the worlds largest consumers of tea and tea contains very high levels of fluoride. The WHO have reported it may contain up to 8.6mg/L.[3]  In Ireland we make our tea using fluoridated water further adding to out total dietary intake. 


The European Food Safety Authority (2006) have reported that for individuals who live in a fluoridated country, if they use fluoridated tap water to prepare food and beverages they would consume on average an additional 3.5-4mg of fluoride per day, compared to individuals living in a non-fluoridated country. This does not account for additional sources of fluorides such as from toothpaste, tobacco or medications all of which may contain high levels of fluoride.

The Minister for Health has stated; based on erroneous data from the Food Safety Authority, that the average fluoride intake for an adult in Ireland is approximately 1.65mg/day from all sources. Not only is this illogical but it is scientifically impossible. The data which the FSAI based their calculations on are out by a factor of ten (1000%) or more. 

For example the FSAI reported that the fluoride content of tea in Ireland was between 0.4 and 0.7mg/L, when made with deionised water. This data is clearly incorrect.  As a scientist I have independently tested black teas available on the market in Ireland and found high levels of fluoride in these products (2 - 5.6mg/l), I have verified this data with third party laboratory testing.

The measured levels I found are comparable with all published data worldwide over the past twenty years. Furthermore, the results I obtained are comparable to current data for the UK as recently published in the peer reviewed journal Food Research International (2013).[4] In this study researchers tested thirty eight tea products in order to assess human exposure to fluoride from the consumption of tea in the UK. What they determined is that basic black teas on their own contained between 75 and 120% of the recommended upper daily intake of fluoride. Certain popular brands of tea contained 6mg or more of fluoride, when prepared with deionised water.

A published study in 2004 evaluating the safety of fluoride content in black teas warned of the risk of chronic fluoride overexposure for heavy black tea drinkers in areas with water fluoridation.[5]  Published research in 2012 found a causal link between high consumption of tea and prostate cancer.[6]

There is no question but that large sectors of the Irish population are chronically overexposed to fluoride, a fact made worse by mandatory fluoridation of our water supplies. This concern was raised by WHO who noted that in countries with large water-fluoridation programmes, fluoridated water may be used in food processing, raising the fluoride content of the processed food above that of products for which unfluoridated water has been used.

What recent experience has taught us is that regulatory authorities in Ireland have failed to protect the public interest. The failures of the financial regulator in the recent past cost this country dearly, the failure of the health authorities to properly examine water fluoridation may have cost this nation its health.  The failure of our broadcasting and media organisations to report this with one exception being Hotpress magazine, has added to this travesty.

Before the financial crash the few independent voices raising concern were ignored and ridiculed. I have experienced the same regarding fluoride yet despite this more and more medical physicians, scientists, health and dental professionals are demanding an end to this practice in the few countries that still support such a blunt and dangerous public health policy.

[1] The 1971-2003 World Health Organization International Standards for Drinking-water.
[2] Fluorides And Oral Health, World Health Organization,Technical Report Series 846, 1994.
[3] Fluorides And Oral Health, World Health Organization,Technical Report Series 846, 1994.
[4] Laura Chan, Aradhana Mehra, Sohel Saikat, Paul Lynch, Human exposure assessment of fluoride from tea (Camellia sinensis L.): A UK based issue? Journal of Food Research International 51 (2013) 564–570.
[5] Cao et al. Safety evaluation on fluoride content in black tea, Food Chemistry 88 (2004) 233–236

[6] Kashif Shafiquea, Philip McLooneb, Khaver Qureshic, Hing Leungd, Carole Harta & David S. Morrisonb. Tea Consumption and the Risk of Overall and Grade Specific Prostate Cancer: A Large Prospective Cohort Study of Scottish Men. Nutrition and Cancer Volume 64, Issue 6, 2012. pp. 790–797


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