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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUG. 31, 1999
STUDY FINDS CORRELATION BETWEEN FLUORIDES IN WATER AND LEAD LEVELS
REPORTERS: Roger Masters is the Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of
Government Emeritus at Dartmouth College. He can be reached at
603/646-1029 or by email at Roger.D.Masters@Dartmouth.edu.
HANOVER, N.H. -Although the dangers of lead poisoning have been
known for years, substantial numbers of children continue to suffer from
blood lead above danger level of 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood
A study published this month in the International Journal of
Environmental Studies, and led by Roger Masters, Emeritus professor of
government at Dartmouth, describes a factor that is correlated with
higher lead levels in children. Analyzing a survey of over 280,000
Massachusetts children, the investigators found that silicofluorides -
chemicals widely used in treating public water supplies - are associated
with an increase in children's absorption of lead. The research team
included Myron J. Coplan, retired Vice President of Albany International
and principal of Intellequity, Natick, Mass., and Brian T. Hone,
research associate at Dartmouth College.
In their analysis, the investigators found that levels of lead in
children's blood was significantly higher in Massachusetts communities
using the silicofluorides fluosilicic acid and sodium silicofluoride
than in towns where water is treated with sodium fluoride or not
fluoridated at all. Compared to a matched group of 30 towns that do not
use silicofluorides, children in 30 communities that use these chemicals
were over twice as likely to have over 10ug/dL of blood lead.
"Silicofluorides are largely untested," said Professor Masters, who
pointed out that over 90 percent of America's fluoridated drinking water
supplies are treated with silicofluorides. "Virtually all research on
fluoridation safety has focused on sodium fluoride, even though the
studies in the 1930s showed important biological differences between
these chemicals. The correlation with blood levels is especially serious
because lead poisoning is associated with higher rates of learning
disabilities, hyperactivity, substance abuse and crime."
Since completing the Massachusetts study, the investigators have
analyzed data from rural counties in six additional states as well as in
the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES III). The
results, which have not yet been published, find a correlation between
silicofluorides and blood lead levels, as well as higher rates of
violent crime and substance abuse.
Masters will summarize these findings in a plenary lecture at a
meeting of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences at the
Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday, Sept. 2, at 9 a.m.
The research was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency's
Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training and by the
Earhart Foundation, which integrates scientific discoveries in
neuroscience, environmental chemistry, and human behavior.
Last modified: 9 September 1999