Reviewing the research on the human health effects of fluoride, a new paper in the Scientific World Journal concludes that the potential damage from ingestion outweighs any benefit:
Fluoride has modest benefit in terms of reduction of dental caries but significant costs in relation to cognitive impairment, hypothyroidism, dental and skeletal fluorosis, enzyme and electrolyte derangement, and uterine cancer. Given that most of the toxic effects of fluoride are due to ingestion, whereas its predominant beneficial effect is obtained via topical application, ingestion or inhalation of fluoride predominantly in any form constitutes an unacceptable risk with virtually no proven benefit….Artificial or natural fluoridation of water represents a public health hazard — significantly damaging health where fluoride levels are high but are clearly demonstrated as having harmful effects at lower levels found where water has been artificially fluoridated. In addition, ingested water is a very inefficient way of delivering fluoride to teeth given its topical effect but is an important cause of fluoride’s adverse effects on human health. Of all sources of fluoride, artificially fluoridated water is the most practical source to eliminate in order to reduce its human hazards at population levels.
There are, say the authors, more promising ways of addressing oral health as a matter of public health.
Currently, your best bet for removing fluoride from drinking water is reverse osmosis. But a recent letter to the British Dental Journal puts a spotlight on an interesting potential – and less expensive – means of defluoridating water: the daisy-like plant tridax procumbens .
Recently, researchers in India have developed a filter system based on a medicinal herb, which can quickly and easily remove fluoride from drinking water. Tridax procumbens – a medicinal herb – has been tested for the extraction of heavy metals from water. Singanan has suggested this medicinal herb as a biocarbon absorbent for fluoride. When this herb is loaded with aluminium ions it is possible to create a safe biocarbon filter that readily absorbs fluoride ions from water. These trials show that it takes just three hours to remove 98% of fluoride with just 2 g of the biocarbon filter, which might provide an inexpensive way to defluoridate water in regions where the natural level of this mineral is high including in India, China, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Spain, Holland, Italy, Mexico, North and South America.
Time will tell if a consumer product is developed from such findings.