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December 2000

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Water treatment chemicals contribute to Arsenic levels in drinking water

Sun, 29 Oct 2000

George Glasser




Oct. 29. 2000

From George Glasser, St. Petersburg, FL


Fluoridation chemicals contain highest levels of Arsenic

In an October 2000 Opflow article, "Treatment Chemicals Contribute to Arsenic Levels," the authors report that if the US Environmental Protection Agency Arsenic standard were set at three to five parts per billion, about ten percent of the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Arsenic would be contributed by water treatment chemicals. They stated that 90% of the Arsenic contamination found in drinking water is attributable to fluorosilicic acid used in artificial fluoridation schemes. The EPA is lobbying Congress and the Senate to reduce Arsenic levels to three to five parts per billion.

Many studies have concluded that chronic health effects due to low concentrations of Arsenic in the drinking water include prostate, skin, bladder, kidney, liver and lung cancers. The non-cancerous effects include skin pigmentation and keratosis (callous-like skin growths), gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, hormonal (e.g., diabetes ), haematological, (e.g., anaemia), pulmonary, neurological and immunological effects and damage to reproductive/developmental functions.

The International Agency for Cancer Research has classified Arsenic as a Group 1 (a) substance, "known to cause cancer in humans," and the National Academy of Sciences strongly advocates urgent moves to reduce human exposure to this contaminant via the drinking water.

The EPA suggested that a reduction in the MCL for Arsenic from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 5ppb will result in the lowering of the Maximum Allowable Level (MAL) in the fluoridation product - fluorosilicates derived from phosphate fertilizer pollution scrubbing operations.

The new MAL would prevent about 20 cases of bladder cancer and approximately 5 bladder cancer deaths per 100,000 population per year. This translates to 50,000 cases and 12,500 deaths from bladder cancer each year.

The results of tests indicate that the most common contaminant detected in the fluoridation product is Arsenic. The National Sanitation Foundation International (NSFI) showed that the average Arsenic levels in the fluoridation agent were well above the proposed MAL. They said that if the lower Arsenic MCL of 5 ppb is promulgated, future tests of fluoridation chemicals may result in "increased product failures".

The fluorosilicic acid is a toxic waste byproduct from phosphoric acid plant pollution scrubbers. This acid contains two other Group 1 (a) substances - Uranium and Beryllium. Studies have revealed that Beryllium is a causative of osteogenic sarcomas (bone cancers), and Uranium is also known to cause cancers in humans.

In response to a recent Congressional inquiry by the US House Committee on Science regarding the fluorosilicic acid used to fluoridate drinking water, the EPA disclosed that no safety testing has ever been conducted with the toxic waste byproduct. However, Charles Fox, EPA Assistant Administrator, indicated that a pharmaceutical grade of sodium fluoride was an adequate laboratory surrogate for the toxic waste.

The authors of the AWWA Opflow article recommended that the utilities should test the water for Arsenic at the tap because even trace amounts found in water treatment chemicals can add up and contribute up to ten percent of the MCL of Arsenic, and that this is "hardly a minimal amount." This estimate does not account for Arsenic found at source in many water supplies. The authors are concerned that if the EPA Arsenic regulation is imposed, the addition of Arsenic-containing chemicals, such as fluorosilicic acid, may reach the Maximum Contaminant Level. Ends.

* Note: The American Water Works Association sets and implements quality standards for all water treatment chemicals.

** C. Wang, D.B. Smith, G.M. Huntly, "Treatment Chemicals contribute to Arsenic Levels," Opflow (AWWA), October 2000.

EDITORS' NOTE: Following are internet sites offering more information on Arsenic and a CDC attempt to sanitize the toxic "pollution soup" used to fluoridate drinking water.

US CDC attempt to cover up the source of Fluorosilicic acid:




Cancer statistics:




How much Arsenic is fluoridation adding to the public drinking water?:


National Resources Defense Council Arsenic report:


Contact: George Glasser

(001) 727.896.9050

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