The fluoridation of water, with lead-contaminated fluoride, a
substance also capable of leaching lead from water pipes and fittings.
An Old Lead Mine
Silicofluorides contain more lead than sodium fluoride.
Compared with NaF, SiFs cause more lead to be leached from
brass pipe and fittings and from the lead solder used to solder
copper pipe and cast iron water mains. For all these reasons
SiFs should be disallowed as fluoridation materials.
Original → HERE ←
The fluosilicates are the by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry.
In the manufacture of this kind of fertilizer, phosphorus is obtained from phosphate rock,
which has to be broken down with sulfuric acid.
(1) Fluorine occurs naturally in combination with the phosphates.
(2) In these two facts lie the keys to the presence of lead in the fluosilicates.
Step One: Sulfuric acid is prepared by either of two ways, the lead chamber process
(3) or the contact method.
(4) In its purest form (made by the contact method) it is used in pharmaceuticals; in its lowest grade (produced by the lead chamber process) it is used by the fertilizer industry.
(5) It is also frequently recovered for re-use, but this form is too impure for any purpose except the manufacture of fertilizer, for which it is quite suitable.
(6) In the lead chamber process purification is carried out only to the extent of removing substances that could clog the machinery.
(7) Of the common metals, only lead is resistant to cold sulfuric acid in concentrations up to 100%. But in hot acid the resistance is up to about 70%.
(8) The lead chamber type uses heat (about 600 C) and isn’t cooled during the process. That’s why a certain amount of lead is leached during this procedure.
If a pure product is needed, the contact method is used, but it’s more expensive, more complicated. In the making of fertilizer, however, a pure grade is not necessary. After all, neither fertilizer nor its by-products were intended for human consumption.
Step Two: Fluorine, which is a highly reactive element capable of joining with any other element except oxygen, is able to leach lead from the contaminated sulfuric acid. In the past hydrofluosilicic acid was simply neutralized and discarded. The picking up of lead wouldn’t have been a problem. But eventually it was decided that the acid, being already in solution, would be better, simpler to use, and less expensive than sodium fluoride.
(9) The lead contamination, apparently, was forgotten (if, indeed, it had ever been noticed.)
Sodium fluoride is also lead-tainted (and with arsenic, as well.) Aluminum ore (bauxite) is usually contaminated with lead and arsenic (and a number of other elements.) In order to obtain a pure product, these have to be removed.
(10) They become part of the major by-product of aluminum refining, sodium fluoride.
Another way in which fluoridation contributes to lead in the water is through its action on whatever lead pipes may still be in existence in older homes. Any lead pipes would be old lead. These are ordinarily covered by a protective coating made by the lead itself which is impervious to diluted acids (as all of them would be in water.) Water acts slowly on lead, forming lead hydroxide, but the action is slight if the water contains carbon dioxide or carbonates or sulfates which interact with lead to form these protective coatings.
(11) It’s interesting that the lead pipes in Roman aqueducts, 2000 years old, are still in such good shape the numbers and letters engraved on them are clearly legible.
(12) In fluoridated water, though, it’s a different matter. Fluorine can and does destroy the protective coatings; it can and does leach lead. A pediatrics textbook published in 1964
(13) noted that the incidence of lead poisoning had been rising in certain metropolitan areas in Eastern United States. The blame was laid on old lead paint flaking from walls and woodwork. But most of the lead chips were old before 1964; some children chewed them long before then. But a new source of lead had arisen–unnoticed: The fluoridation of water, with lead-contaminated fluoride, a substance also capable of leaching lead from the pipes. Although there were scattered places fluoridating throughout the nation, larger numbers of eastern metropolitan communities were doing so.
Today one in nine children under the age of six is said to have unacceptably high blood lead levels
(14) even though lead paint was banned in 1978 (and hadn’t been used extensively since the 1950′s!) Lead in gasoline has been phased out, and lead solder hasn’t been permitted on copper tubing since 1986 (eight years ago.) The EPA says that lead stabilizes in five years. So except for fluoride use, any pipes, whether of lead or lead-soldered, should not now be hazardous. The most revealing statistics, though, are the high blood lead levels in 400,000 newborns each year. Newsweek in its article on lead and the threat to children
(15) said that pregnant women passed this toxic substance to their unborn children by eating, drinking, or breathing it. But even though pregnant women do sometimes have weird cravings, it’s not likely more than a tiny percentage would be chewing paint chips, nor would a significant number of them be engaged in renovating old houses. The lead is in the water–and in foods and beverages prepared with the water.
The EPA estimates that 10-20% of the lead in children comes from the water.
(16) That agency, which knows of the lead contamination of fluoride products, insists the amount is too small to be of regulatory concern. What they have overlooked, though, is that it concentrates in the body tissues, and over time, would add up to quite a lot. In addition, it becomes concentrated in products processed with the water. The 10-20% directly from the water can easily become three or four times as much.
The EPA lists as health problems caused by lead the following conditions: Interference with formation of red blood cells, anemia, kidney damage, impaired reproductive function, interference with Vitamin D metabolism, impaired cognitive performance, delayed neurological and physical development, elevations in blood pressure.
(17) The agency also suggests lead my be a carcinogen, possibly causing kidney tumors and lymphocytic leukemia.
(18) Furthermore, it’s a known scientific fact that lead poisons the bone marrow.
(19) Surely, then, it would be prudent to avoid even “a little bit of lead,” assuming that’s all fluoridation contributes.
But the evidence shows it’s much more than that. Let us tell you a tale of two cities–Tacoma, Washington, and Thurmont, Maryland. Both of them saw significant decline in lead levels only six months after fluoridation was stopped. (In Tacoma, that was due to equipment problems, in Thurmont, it was a temporary ban by the city council.) Tacoma registered a drop of nearly 50%
(20); in Thurmont it was 78%.
(21) To the best of our knowledge, no other explanations were offered. In Thurmont the ban is now permanent.
(22) In Tacoma, we’re told, a battle continues over whether or not to resume fluoridating.
We have more points to add. As we’ve already mentioned, the EPA says that lead may be implicated in causing leukemia. A booklet published by the Leukemia Society in 1987 noted that chemicals which damage the bone marrow can cause leukemia. The Book of Popular Science, 1974, pointed out that bone marrow is poisoned by lead. [link added by us]
(23) Are we to believe, then, nothing is wrong with putting a little bit of lead into the water (from which it will also enter, more concentrated, food and beverages prepared with the water?)
The EPA permits lead-contaminated fluorides to be added; they do not require it. Thus, any community, anywhere, could halt the program any time, with the consent of its citizens, who surely would consent if given the facts.
Lead-tainted fluorides are waste products mainly of the aluminum and phosphate fertilizer industries, largely from US companies. But we’ve learned that in some communities sodium fluoride imported from Japan or sodium silicofluoride from Belgium are used. Neither of these nations fluoridates its own water supplies.
(24) (Don’t you get the feeling we’re in the same category as a Third World country becoming a toxic waste dump for others?)
In California recently the Attorney General and two environmental groups have sued the makers of brass pumps containing lead which could contaminate water from wells.
(25) But who is suing companies who sell lead-tainted products to cities for their fluoridation purposes? Who is suing the EPA for allowing it? Where are the lawsuits against the US Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control for adamantly promoting it?
In conclusion, there’s still the matter of lead being leached from old pipes. Anyone who argues that fluoridation had nothing to do with it will have to explain those well-preserved lead pipes from more than 2000 years ago in unfluoridated Roman water. ♦
(1) Book of Popular Science, Grolier, Inc., 1974, Vol.7, 63. (2) Ibid. (3) Book of Popular Science, Vol. 3, 167-169. (4) Book of Popular Science, Vol. 7, 62. (5) Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1957, Vol.21, 545. (6) Ibid., 545. (7) Ibid., 546. (8) Ibid., 545A (9) Book of Popular Science, Vol. 7, 63-64. (10) Encyclopedia Americana, 1945, Vol. 1, 456. (11) Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1957, Vol.1, 715. (12) Book of Popular Science, Vol. 3, 39. (13) Textbook of Pediatrics, Nelson WS, MD, WB Saunders Co., Philadelphia,London, 1964, 1557. (14) Newsweek, “Lead and Your Kids,” July 15, 1991. (15) Ibid. (16) Ibid. (17) Federal Register, Bol. 56, No. 110, June 7, 1991, 264. (18) Ibid., 265-70. (19) Book of Popular Science, Vol. 3, 74. (20) Letter from the Tacoma Public Utilities, Dec. 2, 1992. (21) Fluoride Report, newsletter, April, 1994, 5. (22) Ibid. (23) Book of Popular Science, Vol. 3,74. (24) Letter from Tacoma Public Utilities, May 22, 1992. (25) Kansas City STAR, April 19, 1994
See also ↓
MORE INFO ON FLUORIDES AND LEAD ON OUR POST ↓
There is a custom of using pipes for electrical grounding.
Many older houses are still grounded through metal water pipes.
This accelerates lead corrosion and also increases lead in drinking water.
11 October 2014 original ↓
For millennia lead has held a deep attraction for painters, builders, chemists and winemakers – but it’s done untold harm, especially to children. And while it’s no longer found in petrol, you’ve still got several kilograms of it in your car.
Element number 82 is one of a handful that mankind has known for millennia. The oldest pure lead, found in Turkey, was made by early smelters more than 8,000 years ago.
That’s because lead is very simple to produce. It often comes mixed up with other more coveted minerals, notably silver. And once the ore is out of the ground, thanks to its low melting point, the lead can easily be separated out in an open fire.
One place lead has long been mined is the Derbyshire Dales, at the southern end of the UK’s Peak District National Park.
Disused lead mine in Derbyshire UK
As well as its tourist-friendly natural beauty, the area’s volcanic and limestone geology also provided the perfect conditions for mineralising the lead sulphide ore called galena.
For 100 million years the lead just sat there harmlessly, locked up in the rock. Then, 3,000 years ago, people began to dig it up. And then the Romans arrived. And soon enough boatloads of Derbyshire ingots were being shipped back to the Continent.
The Romans were the first to exploit lead on an industrial scale. Ice cores in Greenland contain traces of lead dust from 2,000 years ago, carried on the wind from giant Roman smelters. One of the largest, located in Spain, was operated by tens of thousands of slaves.
Lead found dozens of uses throughout the Empire. Being apparently insoluble, it was used to line aqueducts and make water pipes – the word “plumber” derives from the Latin for lead, plumbum.
The Romans excelled at plumbing, unfortunately they used lead pipes
“I think of it as the plastic of the past,” explains Derbyshire lead mining historian Lynn Willis. “It’s flexible, you can cast it into thin sheets, solder it into pipes.”
The metal was malleable and seemingly impervious to corrosion, and so – just like modern plastics – it became ubiquitous. And not just in Roman times.
“In a large house in the 17th Century you might find the table covered with [lead tableware], the cisterns holding the water, the drains, the pipes.”
Lead has a long association with the building trade, providing a waterproof material for roofing, window frames, and for sealing stone walls. And a heavy lump of lead on a string formed the plumb-line builders used to ensure those walls were vertical.
The metal was found to have other magical properties. Lead carbonate, for example, has provided a cheap, durable paint since ancient times. Known today as “flake white”, it was prized by Old Masters such as Rembrandt because of the steadfastness of its colour and the beautiful contrasts it would bring to their oil portraits.
Meanwhile, glassmakers learned that adding in some lead oxide would yield glassware such as wine decanters that would glisten, because the lead refracted the light across a wider arc.
Unfortunately, a leaded crystal wine decanter turns out to be a singularly bad idea, according to Andrea Sella, chemistry professor at University College London, especially if the wine (or sherry, port or brandy) is held in it for a long time.
“The lead slowly dissolves out into the wine itself. The intriguing thing is that you get a compound that used to be known as ‘the sugar of lead’.”
This compound, lead acetate, not only looks like sugar, it also has an intensely sweet flavour, Prof Sella explains.
“One of the curious things is that the drink that you would put into your decanter would over time gradually become sweeter.”
But lead, of course, is also toxic. Once inside the body, it interferes with the propagation of signals through the central nervous system, and it inveigles its way into enzymes, disrupting their role in processing the nutritious elements zinc, iron and calcium.
And so history is littered with examples of people, often unwittingly, enhancing the flavour of their beverages with lead, with horrendous consequences for the health of the end-consumers.
The citizens of Ulm in Germany were plagued by agonising stomach cramps in the 1690s. But it was soon noted at a local monastery that some of the monks, who happened to abstain from drinking the popular local wine, were being spared by God.
The source was eventually identified as a lead oxide sweetener added to the wine – and then eliminated via what was possibly the world’s first formal ban on the use of lead.
In England, these same stomach cramps became known as “Devon colic” after a similar 17th Century outbreak, this time caused by the lead used in local cider presses.
Gout could also be brought on by lead poisoning, and became a hallmark of the English nobility in the 18th Century. The apparent cause this time was the 1703 Methuen Treaty between England and Portugal, better known as the “Port Wine Treaty”.
It cemented military friendship and favourable trade terms between the two nations, stimulating a booming trade in port. Guess what the wine came laced with? Lead acetate.
Lead-induced gout was all too familiar to the Romans too. They associated it with the morose god Saturn, who ate his own children.
The link was apt. Chronic lead exposure causes depression, headaches, aggression and memory loss. It can also cause sterility, and some suggest this explains the common failure of Roman aristocrats, such as Caesar Augustus, to produce a natural heir.
How were the Romans poisoned? Tiny amounts of lead in water pipes dissolve into soft water (the lime-scale from hard water stops this process). The Romans also handled lead in the form of coins, pots and dishes. And they used it in paints and cosmetics.
However, the biggest probable source was once again wine, specifically a sweetener-cum-preservative the Romans called sapa or defrutum.
The Romans boiled concentrated grape juice down in lead pots into a syrup that helped extend the life of wines. Why lead pots? According to the winemaker Columella, “brass vessels give off copper rust, which has an unpleasant flavour.”
The outcome is clear from bones in ancient Roman cemeteries, which contain lead levels more than three times the modern safe limit recommended by the World Health Organization.
- SOME KEY FACTS ON LEAD -
The Babylonians used the metal for plates on which to record inscriptions
Malleable, ductile, and dense, it is a poor conductor of electricity
Symptoms of lead poisoning include abdominal pain and diarrhoea followed by constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, and general weakness
Resistant to corrosion