Shocking revelations! Alcohol can kill you.

And it seems to kill a lot of people. You see, there’s a chemical in there called alcohol, which the body can deal with in small amounts, but, which in larger quantities, is really quite dangerous, in quite a lot of different ways.

Coffee? Dangerous. Caffeine (by the uncensored measure) is thus a ‘poison’.

Table salt? Dangerous! ‘Poison’!

Even vitamin supplements, which are often purported to be good for you (and, actually, probably are if you’re not getting enough from natural sources), can be dangerous if you take too many.

Which makes this post over at Uncensored — Queensland Health caught out on Fluoridation! — (exclamation mark not added by me, I should point out) a little puzzling. To sum up, someone has dug up a document from the Queensland Health Department, warning workers (who are presumably dealing with the fluoridation of the water supply there) to be careful of not getting too much of the stuff into their system.

Well, that’s very sensible, isn’t it? Too much of the stuff is toxic. A tiny little amount in your water is good for your teeth. As Mike points out in the comments

It has never been news that fluoride is toxic in high enough doses … You’d have to drink several thousand glasses of water at a single sitting to get to 2 grams of NaF!

Indeed. As usual, the ‘article’ itself is a mish-mash of sources that don’t really make a solid argument. Presumably the idea is to present us with examples of how toxic fluoride can be (and, no debate, it can be), and thus, by association, damn the practice of fluoridating our drinking water. From the aforementioned Australian document — Review of Water Fluoridation and Fluoride Intake from Discretionary Fluoride Supplements (NHMRC, 1999):

Fluoride can exert acute toxic effects … and the lethal dose in the range of 2-5 g NaF for an adult …

From The Merck Index (Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs and Biologicals)

Severe symptoms have occurred from ingestion of less than one gram; death from 5 to 10 g.

…and there’s several reported instances of people getting sick and/or dying from ingesting too much of the stuff, eg.

In 1973 a fatality occurred in Queensland with a 2-year old child. It had swallowed almost fifty 2.2 mg sodium fluoride tablets. Five days after admission to the hospital it died.

But, you know, I reckon if I swallowed the equivalent of 50 tablets of just about anything you’d find in your average medicine cabinet (nurofen, aspirin, cough medicine, etc.) then I’d probably be expecting to get pretty sick (at best) as well. It seems that this is, in fact, the case. That aside, the common theme there is that it seems you need to be working in the realm of whole grams of the stuff to make you sick.

Anyway, the level of fluoride in Australian drinking water is in the range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L (with the optimum concentration being 0.9 mg/L), as outlined in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. As per Mike’s comment above, you’d need to drink a vast amount of water before you started to get anywhere near a toxic dose (and you’d probably risk dying of hyponatremia before you got there — it even turns out that water can be a ‘poison’).

As an aside, it’s interesting to note that Queensland has the lowest rates of fluoridated water in Australia, but the highest rates of tooth decay (warning: PDF file). From the same document we learn that Townsville, which has had fluoridated water since 1964, has 45% less tooth decay than Brisbane. You could nearly draw some sort of conclusion from those facts, couldn’t you?

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3 thoughts on “Shocking revelations! Alcohol can kill you.

  1. Wahoo – I got an honourable mention in Nutbars – I’ve made it 🙂 (Yeah I made a couple of posts now on the Flouride “revelation”…..but I think i’ll stop – I’m getting a bit hysterical myself :/)

    But just to point out the obvious – let us not make unsupported conclusions from parallel info like flouride and decay rates from Townsville & Brisbane please..unless ther are actually studies that support the link??!!

    Let’s leave the great leaps of illogic to the folk who inspired the title of you blog 🙂

    • let’s leave the great leaps of illogic to the folk who inspired the title of you blog

      Indeed! And, yes, been watching that conversation over at uncensored with my usual sense of disbelief. I know how you feel with regards to getting a bit carried away with it all.

      unless there are actually studies that support the link

      Aha! I came prepared…

      Caries experience among children in fluoridated Townsville and unfluoridated Brisbane.
      Slade GD, Spencer AJ, Davies MJ, Stewart JF.
      Aust N Z J Public Health. 1996 Dec;20(6):623-9.
      “Caries rates were significantly lower (P < 0.01) among children in Townsville than in Brisbane, both in the deciduous dentition (according to age 32 to 55 per cent fewer tooth surfaces affected) and permanent dentition (20 to 65 per cent fewer tooth surfaces affected). Significantly lower rates in Townsville persisted (P < 0.01) in multivariate analyses that controlled for oral hygiene practices, exposure to fluoride supplements and household income. Water fluoridation appears to provide a substantial public health benefit for children in Townsville."

      Brisbane dental survey, 1977. A comparative study of caries experience of children in Brisbane, Australia over a 20-year period.
      McEniery TM, Davies GN.
      Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1979 Feb;7(1):42-50.
      “From data of a study of Townsville in 1975 after 10 years’ fluoridation it can be calculated that there would be approximately 180,000 fewer restorations required in Brisbane if that city had been fluoridated 10 years previously.”

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