The Lowdown on Fluoride in Drinking Water in Australia
September 30, 2013
By Sano Mag Staff
The Lowdown on Fluoride in Drinking Water in Australia
We've all been brought up ingrained with the notion that fluoride is important for healthy teeth and gums. Colgate advertisements are a staple of any Australian's childhood. But what about ingesting fluoride through our drinking water?

Australia is heavily serviced by an artificial fluoridation scheme. Figures from 2009 show 17.6 million people in Australia were supplied with artificially fluoridated water, while 144,000 people were supplied with naturally fluoridated water.

Australia is one of the most extensively fluoridated countries in the world, according to a detailed report on fluoridation conducted by the British Fluoridation Society. Fluoridated drinking water in Australia has also rapidly increased. In 2009, 80% of the country had access to fluoridated water compared with 60% in 2002. The figure has continued to rise since 2009.

Fluoride has long been recognised as beneficial for oral health, such as preventing cavities, and so is routinely added to toothpaste. But controversy still lies around whether fluoride is safe to be ingested, such as in our drinking water.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is naturally occurring and comes from the element flourine. Before human intervention, fluoride was naturally found in drinking water and in small amounts in food. Naturally occurring fluoride is bound with other naturally occurring minerals and in most cases does not cause any problems.

Nowadays, isolated fluoride is chemically added to drinking water and toothpaste. Isolated fluoride depletes other elements in our bodies because it is separated from the many other complimentary nutrients that help our body absorb it.

While fluoride has been found to help prevent cavities in teeth, it is only effective when applied topically such as in toothpaste. This is contrary to beliefs in the 1940s that fluoride was most effective when ingested. However, people can also have healthy teeth without fluoride. And people who have plenty of fluoride in their tooth enamel can still have cavities.

In fact, fluoride is a known toxin and can lead to acute and chronic illness. What's more, fluoride is stored in your tissues and is not flushed out, which means it can cross the blood-brain barrier.

No Disease is Caused by Fluoride Deficiency

Fluoride is not a nutrient (a vitamin or a mineral) and so no disease is actually caused by fluoride deficiency. And yet, fluoride is added to drinking water in most cities across the world.

In the second half of the 20th century, tooth decay decreased dramatically across the world. However, it dropped much faster than the increase in fluoridated drinking water. And it decreased in countries without access to fluoridated drinking water. The decline in cavities is better linked to fluoride toothpaste, as well as better oral hygiene and better nutrition.

Is Fluoride Dangerous when Added to Drinking Water?

The majority of fluoride added to drinking water in Australia is artificial. Some of the types of fluoride added to drinking water include fluorosilicic acid, sodium silicofluoride and sodium fluoride. These are all industrial by-products and dangerous to your health.

Some of the health problems linked to the ingestion of artificial fluoride include:
  • Cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx
  • Colon and rectum cancer
  • Cancer of the urinary organs
  • Bone cancer
  • Brain tumours
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Melanoma
  • Monocytic leukaemia
  • Infertility
  • Skeletal fluorosis
  • Thyroid problems
Cairns Ceases Water Fluoridation

There have been some positive moves across Australia to remove fluoride from our drinking water. Earlier this year, Cairns' local government announced it would stop adding fluoride to the city's water supply because, as Mayor Bob Manning said, "involuntary medication must not proceed without the consent of the community". The decision was made despite warnings from the Australian Dental Association that the move would cause major dental health problems.

"If people want to have access to fluoride, they need to take that up with their dentists," a council spokeswoman told AAP (Australian Associated Press).

Fluoride is considered a drug rather than a nutrient when it is used to prevent disease, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Fluoridation treats the person consuming the water rather than the water itself. The FDA accepts fluoride as a drug, not a nutrient, when used to prevent disease. Therefore, fluoridating water actually violates medical ethics by depriving each individual of their right to informed consent to medication.

How to Avoid Fluoride in Drinking Water?

The best way to removed fluoride from your drinking water is by using a water purification device or by buying unfluoridated water. There are a number of filtering systems that remove fluoride from water such as the Ace Bio Mineral Pot by Waters Co. However, many water filters do not remove fluoride. Therefore, it is important to choose the right water purifier.

Here is a list of water filters that DO remove fluoride:

Reverse Osmosis Filtration: These are very expensive and are generally used commercially to purify some types of bottled water so they do not contain fluoride. They waste a lot of water and so are not very environmentally friendly.

Activated Alumina Defluoridation Filter: These filters are also relatively expensive and must be replaced often, but they can be used in the home.

Alkaline Mineral Water Filters: Alkaline water filters (or Bio Mineral filters) purify the water, removing heavy metals such as fluoride, and then activate the water, adding calcium, magnesium, alkali by magnetising the water, allowing the water to be more easily absorbed into the body. Examples of an alkaline water filter include the Ace Bio Mineral Pot.

Distillation Filtration: Distillation filters can also be bought to remove fluoride from water at home. It is important to know that bottled water labelled as distilled water may still contain impurities.

Solid Block Carbon Filters: These water filters will remove fluoride but only if they have a filter attachment.

These water purifiers and purifying methods Do NOT Remove Fluoride:

Most other water filters: Other types of water purifiers, such as filter jugs, UV filters, water softeners, water ionisers/alkaline water and ceramic filters, do not remove fluoride from drinking water.

Boiling water: Boiling water before drinking it actually concentrates the fluoride in drinking water rather than reduce it.

Freezing Water:
Freezing your water does not remove fluoride from drinking water.
"Fluoride is a drug, not a nutrient. No disease is caused by fluoride deficiency. Fluoridating water violates medical ethics by depriving each individual of their right to informed consent to medication."