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Daily News Archive
From March 19, 2001

Fluoride in Drinking Water Linked to Lead Uptake in Children

In a recent article in the journal NeuroToxicology, a research team led by Roger D. Masters, Dartmouth College Research Professor and Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus, reports evidence that public drinking water treated with sodium silicofluoride or fluosilicic acid, known as silicofluorides (SiFs), is linked to higher uptake of lead in children.

Sodium fluoride, first added to public drinking water in 1945, is now used in less than 10% of fluoridation systems nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) 1992 Fluoridation Census. Instead, SiF's are now used to treat drinking water delivered to 140 million people. While sodium fluoride was tested on animals and approved for human consumption, the same cannot be said for SiFs.

Masters and his collaborator Myron J. Coplan, a consulting chemical engineer, formerly Vice President of Albany International Corporation, led the team that has now studied the blood lead levels in over 400,000 children in three different samples. In each case, they found a significant link between SiF-treated water and elevated blood lead levels.

There is also a theory that SiF is a cholinesterase inhibitor. "If SiFs are cholinesterase inhibitors, this means that SiFs have effects like the chemical agents linked to Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and other puzzling conditions that plague millions of Americans," said Dr. Masters. "We need a better understanding of how SiFs behave chemically and physiologically."