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The thyroid killer lurking in your water

Reading time: 12 minutes

Fluoride and chlorine, added to many water supplies, turn out to be a killer combo for your thyroid. Cate Montana investigates

When Bill Osmunson was in dental school back in the 1970s, fluoridation of water and the use of topical fluoride on patients’ teeth were heavily promoted. “There was only one instructor who had reservations,” says Osmunson. “He said one of the reasons people developed goiters in some places was because people were not getting enough iodine, but also because they were getting too much fluoride, which also affects
the thyroid.”

In the face of vast medical and public approval of water fluoridation, Osmunson dismissed the information, going on to establish a dental office in Canada and eventually moving his practice to the state of Washington (

Because city water was fluoridated, but not the water in outlying areas, he decided to make a game of trying to guess where a new patient lived based solely on looking in their mouth and the number of dental caries (aka cavities) they had. “About 90 percent of the time, I was correct when I said that the patients with the least amount of decay came from urban areas where the water was fluoridated,” he says.

“I was so convinced that fluoride had benefits, I gave my children prescription fluoride, because our local water supply didn’t have it. Fortunately, my wife was slack on giving it to them, and she almost never did.”

It took Osmunson years to get beyond his medical conditioning. After all, his own informal in-office surveys were telling him fluoride worked great, and fluoridation was (and is) a simple and immensely profitable procedure for any dentist’s office. At that time, he says, fluoride treatments cost him approximately $10,000 a year and brought in about $250,000 worth of revenue annually.

Inconspicuous injury

The tipping point came when he was walking down the hallway at his office one day and saw a basketful of crushed toothpaste samples. Curious, he picked up a sample and read the label. “It was a real shock,” he says. “The label read, ‘Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. If more is used, contact the Poison Control Center.’”

Osmunson started researching and discovered that fluoride was indeed a toxic poison. Studies were proving that it had neurotoxic effects on both children and adults and that it accumulated in the body’s cells, especially the bones and the pineal gland, contributing to everything from insomnia to inflammation, cognitive disorders and lower IQs.

He learned that his in-office surveys, along with the surveys conducted by the American Dental Association, municipal water boards, the EPA, the CDC and the FDA, were skewed. “When I looked at my patients and thought they were benefiting from fluoride, I was wrong,” he said. “I was not looking at fluoride. I was looking at socioeconomics. The people in town made more money than people out in the country. They had more healthcare access. They could afford to take better care of their teeth. Of course they had fewer dental caries.”

The CDC staunchly defends its position that fluoride is “safe and effective,” but, as Osmunson points out, it’s not examining the most important variable: socioeconomics. “They’re not looking at the statistics pointing to the fact that long before fluoridation was introduced into public water systems, there was already a drastic reduction in dental caries in urban populations because of improved health and living conditions.”

Dangerous doses

Despite the casual addition of various forms of fluoride to public drinking water throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, fluoride itself is actually a medication prescribed as a liquid, gel and chewable tablet intended to prevent tooth decay by strengthening the teeth and getting rid of cavity-forming bacteria. It is the dosage—the number of milligrams of fluoride in the product—that determines whether it can be purchased over the counter or by prescription only.

According to the US-based Fluoride Action Network, for which Osmunson is now a spokesperson, over 95 percent of all toothpastes in the country contain fluoride. The amount of toothpaste doctors recommend for daily use is no larger than a small pea. But who puts a small dab of toothpaste on their toothbrush?

TV commercials slather enormous blobs of toothpaste on a toothbrush in close-up shots. And yet a modest strip of toothpaste covering the bristles of a child’s small toothbrush is estimated to contain 0.75 to 1.5 mg of fluoride—which already exceeds the amount in most prescription fluoride supplements, 0.25 to 1.0 mg per dose. It also exceeds the recommended dosage from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US, a maximum of 1 mg fluoride for children age eight and under, and most likely exceeds the maximum recommended dosage of 2 mg for children up to age 13.1

Because we are encouraged to brush twice a day with massive amounts of toothpaste, multiply this dosage by two. As a result, the average child—and adult—using fluoridated toothpaste is likely ingesting 3 to 4 mg of fluoride a day, which is up to the recommended daily amount for men.

Fluoridated drinking water (including foods and beverages prepared using municipal drinking water) is thought to account for about 60 percent of the fluoride people ingest. But the amount of fluoride people absorb is steadily increasing as more and more fluoridated dental products, such as mouth rinses, gels and varnishes, hit the market.

People also absorb fluoride from mechanically deboned meat, teas, pesticide residues on food crops, and pharmaceutical medications such as antihistamines, antacids, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, steroids and appetite suppressants.2

The US Environmental Protection Agency advises public water suppliers to notify the public if fluoride levels reach higher than 2 mg/L, and it permits levels in public drinking water of up to 4 mg/L. If a child or adult consumes the recommended daily amount of water—eight glasses at 8 oz each—they may well be absorbing up to 8 mg of additional fluoride a day from water alone.

Add to that another 3 to 4 mg of fluoride from toothpaste, plus additional fluoride from mouth rinses, floss, medications and foods, and it’s not unreasonable to see that most men, women and children are being dosed with 12 to 15 mg of fluoride every day—an amount vastly over the allowable dosages for prescription fluoride medications.


The different forms of fluoride

Calcium fluoride is frequently found in water from natural sources such as streams, springs and wells. It is the least toxic form of fluoride because the calcium and magnesium molecules naturally found in water bond with the fluoride, resulting in an inert substance.

But fluoride additives used to fluoridate drinking water in the United States are fluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate, and sodium fluoride.1 Fluorosilicic acid, which is a byproduct of phosphate fertilizer production, is most commonly used because it is the cheapest.

Fluorosilicic acid is a colorless “fuming” liquid with a strong smell, and it is corrosive to metals and body tissue. According to the CAMEO database of hazardous materials, when dissolved in water, fluorosilicic acid releases heat and corrosive fumes, which, if inhaled, can severely damage mucous membranes.2

When ingested in liquid form, it can cause severe burns of both the mouth and the stomach. Fluorosilicic acid dissolves iron and aluminum, which is probably why many municipal water supply systems still using iron pipes have corrosion issues.

Sodium fluoride is a colorless crystalline or white powder labeled as a toxic, corrosive poison that is used as an insecticide. It is also used to manufacture cleaning compounds. Ingestion may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, thirst, disturbed color vision, convulsions, collapse and acute toxic nephritis.3

Sodium fluorosilicate is a fine, white, odorless powder that is corrosive to both living tissue and glass. It is toxic when inhaled, ingested or touched. It is used as a rodenticide (rat poison). Contact with skin causes rashes, burning and ulcers.4

Serious side effects

Children who get too much fluoride while their teeth are forming can develop a condition called dental fluorosis, a staining and pitting of the teeth. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the NIH, swallowing “large amounts of fluoride from dental products or dietary supplements” can cause a wide range of health issues:  stomach and abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, stiffness, nerve problems, muscle loss, and possibly even death.3

Acute reactions are not rare. “In the past, I had patients vomit in the parking lot because they swallowed the fluoride in a treatment,” says Osmunson. “Unfortunately, it made them sick. Fortunately, they vomited it up rather than keeping it in their bodies.”

Besides causing acute reactions, fluoride can cause long-term health problems. It has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.4 Ever-increasing numbers of studies also show that fluoride is a neurotoxin that lowers IQ in children.5 One study shows that children living in high-fluoride areas, where fluorosis is prevalent, are five times more likely to develop a low IQ than children living in non-fluoridated areas.6

“It’s unbelievable,” says Osmunson. “The official story cited by a lot of water boards and health organizations is that for every dollar spent on fluoridation, people, on average, save $38 in dental care treatments a year. But nobody’s talking about the millions, the billions of dollars of damage that we’re doing.

“Just from an IQ perspective, if you look at the science, anything above about 0.2 ppm [parts per million] of fluoride in water—which is very common—is lowering IQ in fetuses and infants who are drinking that water by about three to five IQ points. Statistically, that adds up to about a $500 loss in income per year for every point of lowered IQ for the rest of someone’s life.”

At levels of less than 0.5 mg/L, fluoride in drinking water also negatively impacts the thyroid and our production of hormones T3 and T4, which regulate metabolism and energy production in the body. In addition, it affects the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid to produce hormones in the first place.7

“Practically every cell of the body is affected by fluoride, including the endocrine system,” says Osmunson. “Back in the 19th century, there were reports by doctors that hyperactivity could be taken care of by giving a child fluoride. And if it didn’t work immediately, to simply up the dose. Of course, it worked because fluoride affects the thyroid, negatively affecting our metabolism and our energy levels.”

Fluoride exposure has been linked to hypothyroidism in pregnant women, possibly disrupting fetal development.8 It has also been found to create calcification of the pineal gland in the brain—an endocrine gland that regulates biosynthesis (the production of biochemicals throughout the body), including the production of the hormone melatonin.9 Melatonin, of course, is responsible for regulating the wake/sleep cycle.

In addition, fluoride has been linked to cancer. Young boys who drink fluoridated water are five times more likely to develop bone cancer.10

Recommended daily fluoride dosages

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US recommends the ingestion of various amounts of fluoride, in doses no greater than the following:

  • Infants 0–6 months: 0.01 mg
  • Infants 7–12 months: 0.5 mg
  • Children 1–3 years: 0.7 mg
  • Children 4–8 years: 1 mg
  • Children 9–13 years: 2 mg
  • Teens 14–18 years: 3 mg
  • Adult men: 4 mg
  • Adult women: 3 mg
  • Pregnant/breastfeeding women: 3 mg

And then there’s chlorine

As if all the health issues created by fluoride weren’t enough, there are also serious issues to consider regarding another commonplace addition to surface waters supplying urban and suburban public drinking water: chlorine.

Without a doubt, the injection of chlorine into water supplies has assisted in reducing the number of illnesses and deaths related to infectious waterborne diseases the world over since the practice was first introduced in the early 20th century. However, there are healthier, more efficient and cheaper ways to treat drinking water than adding chlorine.

Dr Kristin Neumann, founder of the organization MyMicrobiome ( in Bamberg, Germany, says chlorine is no longer used in many German water systems. Instead, municipalities there use high levels of filtration and bacteria to purify their water of toxins.

“Chlorinated water has an effect when we study it in the lab,” she says. “The difficulty is separating it out from other things and determining that one influencing factor impacting the microbiome. But just thinking logically, chlorine must have an effect—and not a positive one.”

Water chlorination can lead to the formation of “disinfection byproducts,” including trihalomethanes (THMs), a group of four chemicals that includes chloroform. Used as industrial solvents, THMs are associated with an increased risk of death from cancer as well as from other causes.11

THMs also negatively alter thyroid function12 and heighten both allergic sensitivities13 and asthma risk in young people.14 These mutagenic chlorination byproducts are associated with higher risks of breast, esophageal, rectal and bladder cancers in women15 as well as the risk of malignant melanomas.16

Because chloroform is an off-gas released from heating chlorinated water, simply taking a hot shower can be risky.17 Chlorine interacts with lipid contaminants in the water, creating free radicals that cause cell death (apoptosis) and contribute to atherosclerosis.16 One study discovered that pregnant women drinking five or more glasses of tap water containing over 75 parts per billion (ppb) of THMs per day had a nearly 10 percent risk of spontaneous abortion.18 Swimmers run the risk of developing chlorine rashes19 and other skin and eye irritations, as well as skin cancers.20

For those looking at the research, the question naturally arises, “How can people—how can doctors—go along with and even recommend these dangerous water treatment methodologies?” Osmunson is quick with his answer.

“Nobody ever taught us in school that as doctors we can’t accept things on blind faith, that we have to challenge and test everything that we’re told, to have an open mind and make sure that what we’re doing is correct and make sure that the science behind what we’re doing hasn’t moved on. We need to be humble about what we do, because a lot of what we do is just plain wrong.”

The poison called chlorine

Chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas with a strong, irritating odor used to bleach wood pulp and make other chemical compounds. It is so toxic, it may be fatal if inhaled. Skin contact can cause blisters and burns. Inhalation can cause chronic lung conditions, including bleeding.

Symptoms of acute exposure include tachycardia (rapid heart rate), hypertension (high blood pressure) followed by hypotension (low blood pressure), and cardiovascular collapse. Dizziness, anxiety, nausea and vomiting are other symptoms
of exposure.

To remove it from the body, try sweating it out in a dry sauna and take vitamin C, which neutralizes chlorine and chloramines. Chlorine kills bacteria in the gut, so taking a daily probiotic is vital.

Mitigating your consumption of fluoride and chlorine

Though fluoride and chlorine enter the body from many sources, we can take steps to lower our exposure, including filtering the water we use, avoiding certain products and eating organic foods.

Filter your drinking water

“The best thing to do is to filter the water in your home and carry your own water with you at all times so you don’t have to drink tap water in restaurants, et cetera,” says Dr Kristin Neumann. “Of course, the best water to drink is fresh water from the mountains.”

Unfortunately, unless you go to the source, fresh water from the mountains is almost impossible to obtain. And although bottled waters advertised as natural spring water are free of fluoride and chlorine, many bottled waters, because they are simply filtered tap water, still contain traces of both. If you can’t get bottled spring water, go with brands labeled as distilled water or water that has been purified via reverse osmosis.

Beware standard countertop filter models using an activated carbon filter such as Brita and PUR filter pitchers. These are ineffective against fluorides. Most do a better job with chlorine, but activated charcoal is usually only about 95 percent effective against chlorine.

The following are some other key steps you can take.

Filter your bathing water

Buy an under-the-counter model or have a whole-house filtration system installed so you won’t have fluoride and chlorine in your shower and bath water.

Get a water quality report from your water provider to find out what’s in the water, and in what amounts, so you know what level of filtration system you need.

Be sure to research any filtration system before purchasing or installing it.

Avoid all products that contain fluoride

This includes toothpastes, gels, mouthwashes, rinses and many medications. Avoid fluoride treatments at the dentist. There are many natural dental products on the market that make a point of not including fluoride. Buy those.

Eat organic

Many fertilizers and pesticides contain fluorides that stick to the foods you eat. Eating organic is the best way to avoid this kind
of contamination.

Also avoid processed foods that likely contain both fluorides and chlorine byproducts. One example is “mechanically separated” meats, especially chicken, because the process ends up getting bone particles in the meat that contain fluoride.

Cut out (or reduce) coffee and black teas

Coffee and tea plants pull fluoride from the soil and deliver it to you.

Never use Teflon-coated cookware

Teflon contains and releases fluoride in the cooking process.

Getting fluoride out of the body

Once fluoride is ingested, most of it is stored in four main regions of the body: the teeth, bones, brain and pineal gland. The highest concentration is found in the bones and shows up as a condition termed skeletal fluorosis. Not much research has been done, but some studies show that methionine (an essential amino acid), combined with vitamin E, may prevent the accumulation of fluoride in the skeletal system.

Taurine is another supplement that seems to help because it enhances thyroid gland function. Choline, a nutrient similar to vitamin B, helps mitigate fluorosis by supporting energy production and brain function, both of which fluoride suppresses. Pomegranate juice protects against fluoride-induced liver damage in rats. No dosages have been determined for any of these supplements at this time.1

The following are other ways to detox from fluoride:

  • Do a liver cleanse.
  • Eat liver-cleansing foods such as avocados, garlic, leeks and onions. Apples are great too. Artichokes stimulate your liver to produce bile.
  • Turmeric is believed to protect against the neurodegenerative effects of fluoride.
  • Iodine and lecithin are believed to remove fluoride from
    the body.
  • Studies show that the presence of selenium reduces the accumulation of fluoride in plants.2 It just might help humans.
  • Calcium and magnesium deficiencies have been related to fluoride absorption. Supplementing with calcium and magnesium may help.
  • Dry saunas are good for sweating out any number of toxins.

What do you think? Start a conversation over on the... WDDTY Community




Fluoride Action Network, “Sources of Fluoride,” May 6, 2012,


Fluoride Toxicity Research Collaborative, “Index of Fluorinated Pharmaceuticals,” accessed April 25, 2023,


NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Fluoride: Fact Sheet for Consumers,” March 22, 2021,


Int J Mol Sci, 2018; 19(12): 3965


Lancet, 2014; 13(3): 330–38


Biol Trace Elem Res, 2008; 126(1–3): 115–20


Sci Rep, 2018; 8(1): 2674


Sci Total Environ, 2023; 869: 161149


Appl Sci, 2020; 10(8): 2885


Cancer Causes Control, 2006; 17(4): 421–28


Environ Sci Technol, 2021; 55(13): 9043–51


Environ Sci Technol, 2021; 55(20): 14087–94


Sci Total Environ, 2023; 871: 162100


Eur Respir J, 2022; 59(5): 2101440


Cancer Causes Control, 1997; 8(2): 192–200


J Orthomol Med, 2000; 15 (2nd quarter): 89


Med Hypotheses, 1984; 15(2): 119–23


Epidemiology, 1998; 9(2): 134–40


Jenna Fletcher, “How to Identify a Chlorine Rash,” Sept 21, 2018,


Melanoma Res, 1994; 4(5): 281–86


The different forms of fluoride



NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Fluoride: Fact Sheet for Consumers,” March 22, 2021,


CAMEO Chemicals, “Fluorosilicic Acid,” accessed April 25, 2023,


CAMEO Chemicals, “Sodium Fluoride”


CAMEO Chemicals, “Sodium Fluorosilicate”


The poison called chlorine



CAMEO Chemicals, “Chlorine,” accessed April 25, 2023,


Getting fluoride out of the body



Biomed Environ Sci, 2017; 30(2): 147–49


Environ Pollut, 2020; 267: 115603

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