This abstract is reprinted from Fluoride, the scientific journal of the International Society for Fluoride Research.

Pictures of Caimans

Toxic Effects of Water Fluoridation on Crocodilians and Rodents in Captivity

P.N. Jacobs and A.W. Burgstahler, Ph.D.

For 20 years prior to the spring of 1981, caimans, alligators, and rats were successfully bred and raised at Parrot Hill Croc Farm in Kansas City, Missouri. During these years, the rare reproduction of caimans in captivity occurred, e.g., in June 1978. Among the more than two dozen crocodilians at the farm there were only two deaths. Many of the rats lived for three years or more, and only four tumors were found among the hundreds of rats in the colonies.

On 9 April 1981, fluoridation of city water with hydrofluosilicic acid (industrial phosphate fertilizer by-product) began. Within three days the eye membranes of the caimans and alligators started to swell and later became discolored and ulcerated. The animals also began to avoid being in the water, preferring to remain on deck more than normal and going from tank to tank, evidently seeking water less toxic to their eyes. These eye conditions, diagnosed by a veterinarian, have continued and worsened.

By 1983 bloated bellies, gastric distress, and spinal deformities were also noted. During the next 15 years, 21 caimans and 3 alligators died, often in apparent agony. Many were less than 10 years old (natural life span 35 years or more). Autopsies showed severe disintegration of the GI tract as well as other gross abnormalities. None of the eggs laid since 1981 have hatched, and all were infertile, even though matings had occurred.

During the first six months after fluoridation began, the health of the rats declined dramatically. Over 200 tumors were counted, with as many as 6 per rat. Beginning on 1 October 1981, the rats were given only distilled water to drink. Their condition quickly improved, and no new tumors were detected.

These findings clearly indicate that water fluoridation as practiced in Kansas City, Missouri, has induced severe adverse health effects in reptiles and rodents raised in captivity. As observed previously with chinchillas in captivity, these effects can be prevented in rodents by changing to distilled water.