Thursday, March 10, 2016
A new scientific study on fluoride exposure is the first to establish excessive fluoride levels in tea products for sale in Ireland and provides the strongest evidence to date that the total dietary fluoride intake in the general population can readily exceed the levels known to cause chronic fluoride intoxication. That’s the main finding of the paper published this month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The study is authored by an international team of researchers lead by Irish scientist Declan Waugh of Enviro Management Services. The study, the first of its kind to be undertaken in Ireland, assessed human exposure to fluoride from the consumption of tea by measuring the fluoride content in tea infusions from 54 different black tea products sold in Ireland. The fluoride content in tea infusions was found to range from 1.6 to 6.1 mg/L. The study found that all of the black teas had fluoride concentrations exceeding the maximum enforceable level in drinking water while also exceeding the maximum permitted level requiring labelling and safety precautions for bottled mineral water under European regulations.
“These findings are important because the European Food Safety Authority previously reported that drinking just 2 cups of tea per day prepared with fluoridated water, in addition to other dietary sources of fluoride can provide almost twice the recommended intake for adults.” said lead author Declan Waugh. “Drinking water has been artificially fluoridated in Ireland since the 1960s on the premise that the population had inadequate intake of fluoride in their diet for the prevention of dental caries “ he added, “what we’ve shown is that the Republic of Ireland has one of the highest fluoride intakes in the world due to our high consumption of tea, which is six times the global average”.
The study highlights that when Health Authorities implemented water fluoridation in Ireland no risk assessment was undertaken to establish the populations dietary fluoride intake from food sources, including tea. “Public health policy should not be based on assumptions” said Mr. Waugh “the results of our study demonstrate that the decision to fluoridate public water supplies in Ireland was a misguided political decision based on poor reasoning and a lack of scientific knowledge.”
Dr. William Potter, one of the four authors of the study and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry explained the results by pointing our that, “in countries with large water fluoridation programmes, such as the Republic of Ireland, fluoridated water is used in food processing and in making beverages such as tea, thus, raising the fluoride content of the foods above that of products consumed in countries without water fluoridation. This is particularly important in Ireland due to the culture of tea drinking, yet the significance of this has largely been ignored to date. Our study found that based on normal tea consumption intakes alone, that there is a high risk of chronic fluoride intoxication among the population in Ireland.”
Previous studies have already highlighted that in countries where tea drinking is common that water fluoridation is both unnecessary and possibly harmful. “You cannot control the dose of fluoride exposure on an individual level when you artificially fluoridate the public drinking water supply due to the wide range of other dietary sources available, particularly tea, fish and fluoridated medications” said co-author Dr. Hardy Limeback, Professor Emeritus and former head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto. “Our research demonstrates that when you include the contribution of tea to daily fluoride intake it is evident that excessive fluoride exposure is commonplace in Ireland. More importantly, the effect of fluoridation of drinking water is that it has resulted in compounding safety factors associated with uncontrolled exposure and contributed to excessive accumulation of fluoride in the general population.”
The researchers highlighted that the consequences of excessive fluoride intake will vary from one individual to another. "For me, as a medical physician, one needs to know the nutritional and health status of individuals when considering fluoride exposure. The dose by which fluoride can affect individuals is dependent on many factors” said co author Dr. Mike Godfrey MD. “For example, individuals with diabetes with reduced kidney function, as well as individuals with iodine, calcium or vitamin D deficiency have a much lower tolerance to fluoride. In Ireland, almost 10% of the general population are estimated to have diabetes and deficiencies in iodine, calcium and Vit D are commonplace, which places the Irish population at particularly high risk to the toxic effects of fluoride.”
The study also looked at potential health risks associated with excessive fluoride intake and reported that excess intake has been found to contribute to neurotoxicity, endocrine dysfunction, musculoskeletal disease, chronic pain, kidney and liver toxicity, cardiovascular disease and abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Cardiac arrhythmias can be serious and lead to sudden unexpected death. The study found that the burden of many of these diseases is high in Ireland and that excess fluoride intake may play a large part in contributing to the burden of these diseases among the population.
Authors: Waugh DT, Potter W, Limeback H and Godfrey M.
Source: Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2016, 13(3), 259; doi:10.3390/ijerph13030259