Selected chemical properties of chromium (VI) and fluoride

Selected chemical properties of chromium (VI) and fluoride

It is fairly apparent that the chief editor of Natural News (Mr Mike Adams – The Health Ranger) and his associated writers appear to be thoroughly determined to “prove” that there is a conspiracy to deliberately poison the US public – en mass – using contaminated public and state drinking water. Quite recently, within the space of a week, Natural News published three separate articles on this general topic, with a fourth article discussing an apparent related Big Pharma pharmaceutical conspiracy. The first of these was authored by Mr Adams and is entitled ” Hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) was just found in 75% of drinking water… the mass chemical suicide of America is under way.” In this article Mr Adams states:

An Environmental Working Group review of government water analysis data reveals that 75% of drinking water in America is contaminated with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6).

The key source for Mr Adams is an article entitled “‘Erin Brockovich’ carcinogen in tap water of more than 200 million Americans” by David Andrews and Bill Walker. The article focuses on hexavalent chromium (i.e. Cr6+) and its level in the public drinking water system. As before, Mr Adams proceeds to link these new claims of chromium VI with his prior work from his ISO 17025 Accredited CWC Laboratory on the supposed heavy metal contamination of US public drinking water with a claimed conspiracy to poison the US public on a large scale. This is clearly illustrated in his statement:

This is on top of our own efforts at where my lab tested hundreds of municipal water samples from across the country and found high levels of lead and other heavy metals in 6.7% of samples.

In addition, Mr Adams makes reference to the debunked claims of fluoridation of drinking water being a serious health hazard as illustrated by his statements:

This doesn’t even cover the deliberate poisoning of public water systems with fluoride, a neurotoxic chemical purchased in bulk from Chinese chemical plants (or sometimes acquired as a waste product from fertilizer manufacturing factories). Fluoride is dumped into public water supplies under the quack science claim that every person in the nation is deficient in fluoride — a blatantly false and highly irresponsible claim. In reality, many children suffer from fluorosis, a dark mottling and discoloration of the teeth caused by too much exposure to toxic fluoride.

In the second article by Natural News entitled “Study confirms that fluoride causes weight gain and depression,” the writer states:

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that certain areas of England with fluoridated community water had increased rates of hypothyroidism. It was one of the largest studies to examine the adverse effects of elevated fluoride exposure.

The scientists discovered that areas with fluoridated water– such as the West Midlands and the North East of England – were 30 percent more likely to develop hypothyroidism than communities with low, natural levels of fluoride in their water. The scientists from the University of Kent warned that around 15,000 people in the U.K. could be suffering from preventable depression, fatigue, memory loss or weight gain.

Additionally, the third article by Natural News entitled “Water fluoridation linked to ADHD, obesity and depression states:

(NaturalNews) Water fluoridation has been linked with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a new study conducted by researchers from York University in Toronto, and published in the journal Environmental Health.

Although prior studies have suggested that there might be a connection between fluoride and hyperactivity, the new study is the first to look at the relationship between ADHD and water fluoridation in particular.

“Given the number of children in the U.S. exposed to fluoridation, it is important to follow this up,” said Thomas Zoeller of UMass-Amherst, who was not involved in the study.

The study used fluoridation data from 1992. Since then, the proportion of the U.S. population drinking fluoridated water has increased from 56 to 67 percent. During that same time, the proportion of children diagnosed with ADHD has increased from 7 to 11 percent.

Furthermore, the fourth article by Natural News entitled “Prescription nightmare! Fluorinated drugs used for anxiety and depression cross the blood-brain barrier, cause permanent nerve damage” makes a number of claims around the apparent risks of state and municipal water supplies in an article on the dangers of fluoroquinolone:

Fluoride accumulates in the human body, so people who drink unfiltered tap water regularly are more susceptible to poisoning from fluorinated drugs, which include – but are not limited to – general anesthesias, chemotherapy, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Once the human body reaches the saturation threshold, symptoms become unbearable and unmanageable by doctors, including severe nervous system disorders, nerve pain, tendon ruptures, gastrointestinal issues, sensory impairments, autoimmune diseases, blood sugar problems and even emotional disorders. Due to the catapulting of drug toxicity by fluorination, the human threshold for toleration can be crossed after just a few prescription pills. Imagine how many people wash down such medications with tap water or drinks made with fluoridated water.

Once a person becomes poisoned by the bioaccumulation of fluoride, they can become hypersensitive to even extremely small amounts. Think now of how many dentists push fluoride as “healthy” and good for building or maintaining “strong teeth.” Most medical doctors in America prescribe fluorinated drugs for even the mildest health conditions. Some doctors prescribe these toxic antibiotics for viral infections, where the drugs are not only useless, but extremely toxic and harmful. One good example is fluoroquinolone, an antibiotic with an added fluoride atom. The fluoride in drugs is boosted far beyond the limits allowed in drinking water, and is also commonly mass-prescribed in anti-inflammatory steroids and even anesthetic drugs used to put patients under for surgical procedures.

Drug companies and their evil scientists love using fluorine in medications because it serves as a solvent for penetrating human tissue, decreasing the amount of the expensive drug needed to be delivered to its “end goal.” Not only do fluorinated drugs penetrate the blood-brain barrier, but they also hinder the thyroid gland’s activity by replacing iodine.

And yes, fluoride causes cancer too. It also easily seeps into the pineal gland of the brain, calcifying it slowly over time. Fluorinated antibiotics are often completely synthetic and kill the good bacteria in the human gut that is responsible for the majority of immunity. This is also why free radicals are able to take over many human bodies and another reason cancer attacks one in every three Americans, killing about half in the process. Now you see why prescription medications are often the “beginning of the end” for so many people.

A look at the hexavalent chromium claims

A review of the article by Andrews and Walker, cited by Mr Adams in regards hexavalent chromium, indicates that their case is not as conclusive as they imply. In brief, Andrews and Walker commence by discussing the public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion (ppb) Cr (VI) in drinking water for life taken by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The concept behind the OEHHA decision appears to ensure that exposure levels to Cr (VI) are low enough over the individual’s entire life-span to give absolutely nil chance of developing cancer due to hexavalent chromium. In other words it is an extremely overcautious approach that was proposed by the OEHHA. It is at this point that Andrews and Walker argument becomes somewhat “opaque”. They proceed to claim that due to strong lobbying by large chemical industrial interests within California as well as an apparent conspiracy between Big-Chem, the state of California, and the EPA, that dangerously high limits for chromium (hexavalent and otherwise) were adopted by both the EPA and the state of California. It is this argument, and the fact that EPA data generally shows chromium levels above the public health goal of 0.02ppb, that Mr Adams cites as proof of deliberate poisoning of the US public via state and public drinking water (including a reference to his earlier claim based on analyses by his CWC laboratory).

Given Andrews and Walker claims, a review of the standards/limits set by the other regulatory bodies allows for an adequate evaluation of both the OEHHA public health goal and the EPA limits. The limits set by both the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) – ie. the UN – for total chromium in drinking water is 50 ppb. Also, neither make any distinction in testing for the different forms or cations of chromium (ie. Cr3+ and Cr6+) in drinking water. The limits set by the US EPA are 100 ppb for total chromium, and 10 ppb for hexavalent chromium as well as 50 ppb for total chromium respectively for the Californian state EPA. These limits are notably different from the EU and WHO limits, but within the same order of magnitude, suggesting that the EPA and Californian limits are adequate. In addition, a review of data provided by Andrews and Walker indicates that chromium levels in US state and public water are below the limits set by the EPA, EU, WHO and Californian state in all cases with most giving chromium levels below 1.0 ppb. Thus, even by the most stringent standards (ie. California’s EPA), US municipal water supplies are perfect safe to consume when considering chromium. This indicates that Andrews and Walkers claims, and by extension Adams, are completely unfounded.

Interestingly though, the OEHHA public health goal is 2,500, 5,000 and 500 times lower than the EU/WHO, EPA and Californian EPA limits. This raises the question of where such low public health goal values originated from. As stated, the 0.02 ppb public health goal set by the OEHHA is apparently to ensure no chances of an individual ever catching cancer from Cr (VI) through daily exposure during their lifetime. Also as stated, this would result in an extremely low value by definition. This article’s author conjectures that this is more likely due the lowest detection limits available presently for the standard analytical methods employed for such analysis or the lowest levels that can be achieved by one of the most robust water purification method available today – namely reverse osmosis. In essence, the unstated aim of the OEHHA appears to be: “nil exposure to Cr (VI) equate to nil possibility by Cr (VI- induced cancer”. Although admirable, in real world applications, this is overkill in dealing with a given threat.

But we’ve been here before …

Returning to Mr Adams claims around heavy metals and fluoride in US public drinking water, we can clearly state that we have been here before. Both sets of claims have been adequately reviewed and debunked. One of my prior articles has shown that the results from Mr Adams’ own CWC lab do not support his claim that the US public is being deliberately poisoned en mass by elevated levels of heavy metals in the public drinking water. In fact, his own results show the complete opposite (among other things). Furthermore, a review of the data presented by Mr Adams to support his claims around hexavalent chromium itself also now shows that chromium levels in state and public water supplies are well within the safety limits specified by the EPA as well as the EU and UN (ie. most of the rest of the world). In regards perfluoro and polyfluoro-alkanes, as stated in my other article, the EPA (and other relevant governmental agencies) are aware of the problem presented by these and are taking actions around the issue. In the same article, water fluoridation within the acceptable levels of 0.7-1.3 ppm has been shown to beneficial to dental hygiene, with dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis only occurring at much higher levels (4.5-10 ppm for dental, and approximately 10 times higher than that for skeletal).

A look at the new Natural News anti-fluoride claims

In regards the second Natural News article and its claim around hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) due to fluoride in US municipal water (based on the article published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health originally written by Stephen Peckham), a more than adequate counter has be provided by the Open Parachute website in an article entitled “Paper claiming water fluoridation linked to hypothyroidism slammed by experts.” A summary of the contents of this counter article are:

  1. Correlation is not causation: As discussed in Open Parachute, the Peckham study referenced by Natural News used data from two sets which were collected in complete isolation from each other in two unrelated studies. The authors of these original two studies and Prof. Peckham made no attempt to directly link the occurrence of hypothyroidism to elevated fluoride uptake so no direct causation was demonstrated. Thus, Prof. Peckham has done no more than make a comparison between two broad (all-inclusive) trends without addressing the critical issue of causation between the two key parameters. A large number of such correlations exit, but they do not necessitate causation, an aspect that is particularly true for a comparison of broad all-inclusive generalized trends. A perfect example of this questionable approach, as proposed by the present author, is to draw an all-inclusive correlation between increases in inflation and increased autism reporting – two trends that move together but have no reasonable link between them.
  2. Critical role of iodine: Prof. Peckham also ignores the impact of the confounder iodine as the lack thereof is a major cause of hypothyroidism. Not adequately considering iodine as confounder, particularly as the study was implying that fluoride is an iodine inhibitor, invalidates the conclusions of the study.
  3. The size of the effect: The size of the observed effect was very small (3.2% with 1.1% standard deviation). This raises the question as to whether, assuming this is a true effect, the benefits of avoiding a small level of hypothyroidism in the general populous would justified the large and broad loss of benefits in dental hygiene that would result if water and other fluoridation efforts ceased. (This argument, though, maybe morally questionable in the opinion of some.)
  4. Stephen Peckham is a well-known anti-fluoride activist: As indicated in Open Parachute, Prof. Peckham is a well-known anti-fluoride activist and has been so for some time. This raises questions around his objectivity – particularly in the light of a distinct lack of direct evidence for his assertions. Peckham is also not an epidemiologist, so the research is outside of his field of expertise.

A counter of the third Natural News article, based on a paper published by Ashley Malin and Christine Till and claiming of a link between fluoride and ADHD, is also provided by Open Parachute, and is entitled “More poor-quality research promoted by anti-fluoride activists.” Many of the counter points here are a repeat of the first and an overall summary thereof are:

  1. Exploratory investigation – correlation not causation: Once again, correlation does not necessitate causation. The authors of this study also used two unrelated data sets that were collect in complete isolation from each other, and also conflated two broad trends without critically addressing the issue of causation. Furthermore, one of the data sets used (ADHD prevalence reporting) was of questionable quality because of the subjectivity by which ADHD prevalence was assessed by the observing reporter. This data set was collected via a randomized telephone survey, from selected locations, in which parents were asked to indicate the ADHD status of their children based their own opinions and observations. In other words, no standardized assessment or expert diagnosis was used, just the parent’s personnel view regardless of their socio-economic, ideological, and educational status. The survey also did not account for how well informed and educated the parents were of their children’s ADHD status. Furthermore, the authors made no attempt to directly inquire about the fluoride intake for those children in the data from this survey.
  2. The starting hypothesis: Although there was a literature survey, it was limited and brief, focusing on two articles (Grandjean & Landrigan (2014), and Choi et al. (2012)) which claim a detrimental impact of fluoride on health. However, they failed to cite Broadbent et al., (2014) whose work showed contrary evidence. In addition, not all of their sources appear to be relevant to the topic. As Open parachute states, Broadbent is relevant to the topic, Choi is not.
  3. ’Natural’” vs ‘artificial’ fluoride: It is interesting to note that although a correlation between fluorosilicate (“artificial”) and ADHD was observed, the opposite was observed with regards to “natural” fluoride (ie. no correlation). In addition, their claim that fluorosilic acid could cause elevated lead levels due to corrosion (the main mechanism proposed for a correlation between “artificial” fluoride and parent-reported ADHD) is also not strongly supported by the literature. Fluorosilicate is known to decompose into fluoride anions and silica once dissolved in water, having very little impact of the pH of the water.
  4. The thyroid story again: Little needs to be said here given the debunking of the Peckham paper by Open Parachute.

Another point of interest is that Malin and Till did not include in their analyses the well-documented fact that genetics is the most important cited driver of ADHD (75%) and that environmental contributions are typically very small (as noted here, here and here).

In short, the claims of both the second and third Natural News articles are just as unfounded as Mr Adams’ prior claims in the first. They ultimately prove nothing.

Fluorinated drugs

The fourth Natural News article discusses the views of its author on fluorinated pharmaceuticals which also contains a number of claims in regards the fluoridation of water. At least one or two of these claims have raised a number of times in the past by a variety of writers and these have already be thoroughly debunked. However, Wells has made new claims around fluoride (which this author has not reviewed), which involve the hypothesis that fluoride “bio-accumulates” in the human body and its subsequent health impacts. In Wells’ view, fluoride accumulates over time in the soft tissues of the body to near-toxic levels, from the fluoride present in drinking water. Then, upon the uptake of prescription medications containing fluorine as fluoride or as fluorinate pharmaceuticals, the toxic limit of the body is quickly exceeded, resulting in severe adverse effects. However, there is one key problem with the proposed mechanism, namely that fluoride does not accumulate within soft tissues. It is readily removed by normal renal functions to levels equivalent to that in the drinking water consumed. In regards its content in bone and the teeth, these levels are also dictated by the concentration within the drinking water as fluoride does not additively accumulate with time in the bone and teeth due to the dynamic process of fluoride dissolution and re-absorption by dental hydroxyapatite/fluoro-hydroxyapatite. At the stipulated EPA limits, the fluoride present within the bone and teeth of a human is far below the hypothetical limits suggested for a toxic response. Thus, without the possibility of “bio-accumulation”, the assertions becomes completely unfounded. Claim around “bio-accumulation” are, hence, completed debunked. In addition, the article appears mix the chemical properties of “free” fluoride with those of pharmaceuticals when one of the functional groups is replaced by a fluoride atom (eg. fluoro-quinolone). In other words, the article mixes and equates the chemistry and kinetics of two completely different chemical species, which is poor chemistry as the chemical properties of each are determined by the whole composition of the molecule and not solely by a single atom in the structure, a point I discussed in the prior article.

It is also noteworthy that the article refers to an entry on fluoride from Truthwiki (a website maintained by Mike Adams):

Mustard gas from World War I was modified and used to kill the Jews in gas chambers (Zyklon-B). In fact, Zyklon-B would later be used by Americans for chemical warfare in a country named Vietnam (aka Agent Orange).

These claims are completely incorrect. First, mustard gas (both that used in World War I and today) is known as a blistering agent. It attacks and damages any moist epidermal layer like the lining of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, resulting in blindness and preventing the adequate uptake of oxygen through the now damaged air-sacks of the lungs. In the worst cases, the victim then dies of slow asphyxiation, usually in considerable pain. Zyklon-B is actually hydrogen cyanide stored in sealed cans and stabilized by a filler material – typically wood pulp (ie. same material as highly fluffed brown cardboard container boxes or brown paper bags) or clay filler. It kills by shutting down the “energy factory” in all living cells by binding to the cytochrome c oxidase protein subunit on the surface of the inner membrane of the mitochondria via a non-competitive inhibitor process. This disables the cellular respiration pathway and stops the energy production in all cells affected. This results in death within seconds. Agent Orange, on the other hand, is an equal combination of two well-known herbicides: 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, that are generally not used today due to their environment persistence (ie. they tend not to break down in the environment and, thus, are susceptible to building up in the food-chain). These three materials are most definitely not the same chemical. If Truthwiki (ie. Mike Adams) and his contributing authors cannot get this simple chemistry correct, how can we give any credence to what they have to say in regards the chemistry and biochemistry of any other topic they broach? It would be advisable to view much of what they state, particularly when it runs contrary to the general accepted consensus of academia, with great suspicion and caution. As the old mariner seamen used to say: “Beware! Here be dragons!

Where one invests the most is where one will stand…

In general, the fact that the Natural News website has an entire separate section on water “feature articles” replete with numerous entries on the topic of the supposedly toxic US municipal and state water sources, is clear evidence that the writers of Natural News and Adams in particular appear to be heavily invested in this narrative. Review of the Natural News website also indicates that these views have been held for years prior to Mr Adams CWC lab being started and accredited, as well as before testing of these accretions could have even commenced. Hence, this appears to be another case of a core-belief and narrative being held, and subsequent attempts to make the scientific evidence fit the claim, rather than doing the analyses first and allowing the results dictate the direction of their conclusions. In other words, a typical case of pseudoscience rather than real science.

Conclusion: The water is safe, drink it

Despite a lively campaign by Natural News and its chief editor to “prove” the dangers inherent to drinking water (municipal and state) in the US, using a numerous and varied range of sources, the facts behind the science proves what has been known for a considerable length of time. Most of the US municipal and state drinking water (approximately 90%) is perfectly safe for human consumption due to the actions taken by and controls in place in most US municipalities, and no amount of assertion by Mr Adams and his supporters to the contrary will make it any different. Properly executed and undertaken science never lies.



Posted by Craig D Pearcey

CD “Tiger” Pearcey obtained his Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. The title of his Masters dissertation was “Catalytic Oxidative Coupling of Methane with Consecutive Gas-Phase Reaction”. His original Bachelor of Science degree was a double major in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Pearcey has over 20 years’ experience in applied chemical research, most of which was obtained in service to his present employer who is a leading manufacturer in the paper, pulp, and dissolving pulp industry. Pearcey manages the laboratory with a speciality in bleaching technology at one of the company’s main research facilities. The views expressed are those of the author, CD Pearcey, and do not reflect those of his employer on any topic in question.